For my upcoming fortieth birthday, I wanted to find out if my Donkey, a present for my ninth birthday, could be restored. I took him to the Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop in Berkley, Michigan, where I stood in line and felt silly to be a grown woman holding a rather scruffy stuffed donkey.
Donkey on his way to hospital
Janice, a lovely woman in a work apron, checked him over and said she could clean him up. And that it would take three months -- that's how long their backlog of doll repair is. She must've seen the look of absolute horror on my face, coupled with brimming tears that mortified me, because she reassured me that he'd be safe with all the other dolls in the doll hospital waiting area. Which horrified me even more because dolls, let's face it, are creepy. Shelves of them, all staring down my gentle Donkey with their glossy doll eyes? With their stiff little arms held out in front like killer robots? Sure, it'd be fine during the day, but what about at night? (which is when dolls come alive; everyone knows that)
But I had no choice. I relinquished him to Janice, who told me a story of a biker guy who lost his teddy bear companion when it came loose from the back of his Harley and went thumpa-whump-whumping down the highway and got run over by three cars -- and how she restored the bear, and how the big, burley biker dude started to cry when he saw his buddy ready to ride again.
These people should be okay, I thought. And so I left him.
I nearly screamed when I got the call from Janice yesterday that Donkey was ready. Ready! I just dropped him off two weeks ago! They knew he was special!
So special, that Janice had even taken him home to work on him. Not only did she bathe him after soaking him overnight (filthy, she said), but she repainted his eyes, restuffed him, restitched spots, and replaced his entire yarn tail and most of his mane.
B picked him up on his way home from work. When I came home, there was Donkey, waiting for me.
As silly as this sounds, I felt instantly as if I was nine again. How many times in your life do you get to truly, truly feel like a child again? What a gift.
P.S. Forgot to add how Donkey came to me. With my ninth birthday a week away, my mother told me I could pick out one present for myself, but I couldn't have it until my birthday. I knew immediately what I wanted. In the stuffed animal aisle, there was a big pile of donkeys. I chose one.
Over the years, he was my first "fandom." I would draw him, usually in Sherlock Holmes gear, with a hat and pipe and coat, and he would solve mysteries.
He's not an Eeyore, just a mass-produced donkey. But he is my Donkey.
/sappy blog post about my stuffed animal