Rocky is a little stuffed raccoon that my father gave me when I was a baby. It’s probably the very first toy I’ve ever owned. I’m not sure why I named it Rocky. Perhaps I named it after Rocky the Flying Squirrel from the The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons (because he kind of resembles the squirrel), which were my favorite as a kid. With my parent’s divorce and moving around a lot from city to city, Rocky was one of the very few constants in my life. Every time we moved to a new town, I had to get use to a new school, a new house, and make new friends all over again. That was always very difficult for me, but no matter where we lived Rocky was there. Rocky provided what little stability I had when I was kid. He was my first and sometimes my only friend, and by far my favorite toy of all time. Still having it to this day is a testament to that.
I remember one time when I was about 5 years old I lost Rocky, and I cried for literally days. I also remember that a little boy had a stuffed raccoon that looked identical to Rocky and I accused him of stealing him from me and took it back away from him. But I was so in touch with Rocky that I soon figured out that that stuffed raccoon wasn’t Rocky. It’s snout was was yellow and it was a bit more worn than Rocky was, so I gave it back. I don’t remember exactly how I got I Rocky back after that; I think my mom eventually found him somewhere, but I remember how much I missed him and I never let him go after that.
A few years later, we got a little pet toy poodle that I named Toto (yeah, after the little Yorkie in the Wizard of Oz). Rocky quickly became a second stringer to Toto, after all Toto was a real living dog. As a matter of fact, Rocky became Toto’s chew toy. I always took Rocky away from Toto if I saw him chewing on it and trying to destroy it. But some times I would leave Rocky on my bed when I would go off to school, and Toto would grab him and try to tear him to bits. Unfortunately, one day Toto succeeded. Toto tore Rocky’s head eyes and nose off, and his felt hands and feet were chewed off. Needless to say, I was devastated. My mother tried her best to repair Rocky. His head was sewn back on, and his nose was replaced with a small shirt button, but one of his eyes was never found. After that I kept Rocky as far out of Toto’s reach as possible.
As a teenager, I had Rocky on a shelf on in my bedroom. Of course, I didn’t sleep with Rocky at my side like I did when I was a kid, but I did take it down from the shelf from time to time just to look at his tattered and torn face and body, especially on days when I was sad and depressed. He reminded my of how much we been through together, and that there is no problem that can’t be solved, or trouble I can’t recover from.
I moved into my university’s dorms during my first year of college, so of course I couldn’t take Rocky with me (for fear of ridicule, but more for fear that I may lose him or that Rocky may be a victim of a college prank). As with my other belongings, I packed Rocky away in a box and stored him away in the attic in my mother’s house. Over the years, I had completely forgotten about Rocky and his whereabouts. My mother had since, moved to Atlanta so I didn’t think that she would take Rocky with her…but she did.
A few nights ago, my mom surprised me with bringing Rocky to Japan. This is perhaps Rocky’s first trip to Japan, and it felt strange to see him here. He still had his tattered torn face and shirt button nose, but it made be so happy to see my oldest and best childhood friend again. He looked very fragile as if his head might fall off or something, and he looks a bit skinnier (undoubtedly from losing some stuffing from holes in between my mom’s hand stitching on his neck.) The fur was no longer soft and supple, but more hard and stiff.
I decided to give Rocky to Haruka, because she took to him immediately. Strangely enough, she keeps calling him kitsune, which means “fox” in Japanese, so I corrected her and told her that his name is Rocky and that Rocky is a raccoon. She was able to figure it out because she pointed to a picture of a raccoon on TV and said “racoon, like Rocky”, but sometimes she still refers to him as kitsune.
I still have a lot of plenty of sentimental attachment to this toy which now seemed be an old rag. I want Haruka to enjoy him as much as I did when I was a kid. But in the condition that Rocky is in, I don’t think he will survive another childhood. I went online and found some stuffed animal repair shops on the web. Apparently, some of these shops can completely refurbish stuffed animals by unstuffing it, washing the fabric, replacing missing eyes and noses, replacing or restoring any missing material, and then restuffing him. I thought about having Rocky refurbished, but then I got to thinking. Rocky hasn’t never been washed or cleaned before. To me, all of my childhood memories and my tears from all of times I cried holding Rocky is on the fabric that makes Rocky. To me, that is what makes Rocky …Rocky. And if he is refurbished or washed, then Rocky will no longer be Rocky, but rather just another stuffed animal in Haruka’s collection.
Then it happened. The other day, my wife took Haruka grocery shopping and Haruka wanted to take Rocky with her. I told Haru to leave Rocky home because Rocky is old and not feeling too well. But she said she would take care of kitsune. So I decided to trust her.
My wife, Haruka, and Rocky spent two hours at the grocery store while I ran my own errands. The hole time I imagined Rocky’s head being torn off or losing his other eye. Maybe I shouldn’t have let her take Rocky! Or Maybe I should have at least told her to leave Rocky in the car!
After running my errands, I returned to store to pick up my wife and Haruka from the store, hoping that Rocky was still in one piece, or at least in repairable condition. After a few minutes of waiting in the parking lot my wife and Haruka emerged from the store. I glanced over at Haruka and she had a fully in tact Rocky in her hands. I breathed a sigh of relief.
On the ride home, my wife told me about the “situation” they had with Rocky. Apparently, Haruka stopped off in the toy section to play with some toys. She then told my wife that she needed to use the restroom so my wife took Haruka to the restroom. After she finished her business, she told my wife “kitsune is gone!” The two of them had scrambled frantically looking all over the store looking for Rocky. Eventually, they found him right where Haruka left him -in the toy section. Rocky was way too dirty and damaged to be mistaken for a new toy, so someone must have figured out that the someone left him, and propped him up so that Haruka could easily find him.
This whole situation got me to think that Rocky is no longer my toy, and that although I have a deep sentimental attachment to him, I need to let go and give Haruka a chance to enjoy him. Perhaps eventually when she get older, she’ll appreciate how precious Rocky was to me and take good care of him. But in order for her to have a childhood with Rocky without him falling to pieces on her, he’ll need to be fixed properly. So when Haruka goes off to the States this weekend, I am going to send Rocky off to get repaired.
Haru and Rocky
Haru and Rocky