‘Do they serve alcohol?’ was my first question when embarking on my maiden voyage in the good ship Build A Bear.
There was no booze. Sadly. Next time I’ll take my own…
I think they’re missing a trick though. Booze, and a lot of free booze on entry, would make the experience a little less weird. It would soften the noisy, surreal, grotesque elements of the place which combine to make one’s head ache immediately upon entrance. It’s like a bad acid trip. Plus it’d probably mean people spend more money on pointless badly-made tut too. Kerching o’clock!
Ahhh, Build A Bear Workshop. Or, as I like to call it…
Yes team, I recently went to Build A Bear and it was my first time. Why had I missed this joyous experience up to now? Well, mainly because I’d publicly stated that the only way you’d ever get me into one of those shops would be if I was dead/it was over my dead body. That sort of thing. My death would have to play a part in me being in there.
But a weekend ago, ago, I went. FML. Sideways. Love does funny things to a hardened human heart.
I saw a queue of people waiting for their bear carcasses to be stuffed with fluff. Parents with their wallets and anal sphincters twitching simultaneously as they stood in line. Pale, drawn looking adults with looks on their faces I’ve seen in footage from documentaries about the Vietnam War.
I looked around and pointed to the ‘Fluff Me’ sign. The Girlfriend wasn’t up for that.
If you’ve not been to one of these places then you’re doing well and you’re my hero. To fill you in, you can make your bear, fill it with a beating heart (which sounds creepy because it IS creepy) and then fit it out in all manner of outfits. You can make a girl bear, a boy bear, a boy bear in a dress, a girl bear in dungarees and hobnail boots, a transgender bear. Probably. You can buy anything for your new best friend with it’s creepy ‘I love you’ or maniacal laugh voicebox, which you can also get sewn into it.
That laugh… *Shudders*
Imagine that laugh suddenly being set off as your child cuddles it in the wee small hours of the morning. Is that comforting? RUN AWAY RUN AWAY! It would sure as shit scare the shit out of me.
I looked around some more. With my eyes. You can buy anything and everything for one’s bear. I’m sure I spied a sex dungeon for some bears. You can even buy a set of crutches for one’s bear. Why? Does little Damien BREAK the legs of his bear? He’s 5 years old and a psychopath, so of course he does. Maybe psychopath is harsh but, let’s face it, we all know 5 year olds are terrorists in small form. They’re self-obsessed. They’re driven. You can’t negotiate with them. They’re ruthless.
Daddy or chips remember?
I mean ruthless and self-obsessed in the nicest possible way of course.
Anyhow, I digress…
You can make an army bear, a construction worker bear, a Red Indian bear… Hang on. I’m just thinking of the Village People here but… well. You know what I mean. You can buy clothes and a wardrobe for your new bear friend, give him or her a birth certificate and then cough up two large for the privilege of making one’s child happy, before they promptly leave their new forever pal in a carrier bag outside Argos.
Just. Like. Life.
I quite often feel like that bear left in the carrier bag outside Argos, but again, I digress…
It is a fact that all the staff in Build A Bear are medically trained, and they have defibrillators behind the counters for that ‘HOW MUCH????’ moment but that’s beside the point.
What is my point exactly?
Perhaps I’m being harsh. What could be nicer than buying a bear for your child. I like the idea of giving teddy bears as gifts to small people. This notion isn’t a new one but it’s also not a broken one. It’s fine. Buy a bear for someone and give it to them. Job done. Or make one for the small child in your life? That’s a lovely idea! But this place takes the idea of giving a bear and vejazzles it. It also makes me think that kids have it all on a plate nowadays. On a plate, on a stick, with hundreds and thousands on top.
“No daddy. I don’t want that bear you gave me, or that one granny made with the lopsided legs and the very weird eyes. I want to make my own. I want one that talks to me, is dressed like Grayson Perry and laughs like Joe Pasquale on helium. I am a mini Dr Frankenstein and you are Igor, my accomplice. DO MY BIDDING.”
Next time I go I’m gonna stand by the bears that have gone through The Process and shout IT LIVES at the top of my voice. That’ll learn them.
Perhaps I’m just bitter because they didn’t have those sort of things when I was a puppy. Hey, they didn’t even have bookmarks, mugs, door signs or anything with my name on it when I was little. Nowadays you can get all manner of pointless things with your child’s name on it, so perhaps I’m being harsh as I couldn’t find a bear with Spencer written on it when I was a bairn, and now I’m scarred for life. Emotionally trauma-fucked.
Y0u can make your bear Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Obi Wan Kenobi. Hey, you can even buy your bear a lightsabre!
For the love of all things holy, WHY? Can’t a bear just be a bear? Isn’t some of it all a bit… pointless?
In writing this I had to look up synonyms for a word which I thought I was going to use a lot. Pointless. One of the synonyms is ‘unprofitable’ and… well. Build A Bear certainly isn’t that.
Thanks for reading.