Editor’s Note: From time to time, the author (Ben W. Dalton) of this eponymous blog (ben w dalton) takes leave of his senses and must be replaced, at the last minute, by a guest writer hastily selected by the editor (Ben W. Dalton). In the interest of providing a counterbalance to the absurdity and sarcasm that routinely occupies these pages, today’s guest is the impeccably mannered “Harry Bear,” who comes highly recommended by relatives.
First of all, let me say that my name is not a pun on “hairy bear.” I am neither hairy nor an actual ursine mammal. My real name is Harrods Bear, and I come from an upmarket London department store.
The proper designation you may ascribe to my appearance is “furry.” However, I am not currently especially furry or “fuzzy,” as the American family who adopted me likes to say. Indeed, in the time that it has been my honour to serve as a little girl’s stuffed-bear servant, my fur has grown remarkably trim and compact. I take no objection to being referred to as Harry—it would be hypocritical of me to judge a toddler’s pronunciation when my own vocal chords are non-existent and would have been crushed anyway, along with the rest of my neck and spine, by the incessant hugging I’ve endured—but I do wish that adults would refer to me by my correct name, and not just when I’m being amusingly silent. Suffice it to say that “Harrods” is plainly stitched on my back left paw.
I’m pleased to be able to express myself in this public forum. Previously, my pronouncements have been roundly mocked by the motley assortment of polyester-brained creatures in whose company I unfortunately find myself. Moose, for example, has yet to accept any of our manifold suggestions of a more distinct and individual name. Prairie Dog, afflicted with the same aversion to good sense, does not have the internal fortitude to remain standing for more than a minute. Magic Snow Puppy simply thinks that I am Santa Claus. However, I will say they are well-mannered and exceedingly kind. They are always throwing tea parties and snuggling up with one another.
The main thing I’d like to say is that I think there’s too much political polarization in this world. The information age’s explosive growth in channels of self-reinforcing media has sown division and misunderstanding throughout our culture. Our inability to comprehend competing views or empathize with each other on the basis of a common humanity threaten the foundations of democracy and imperil our prosperity and peace. The only way we can counteract this is to practice consistent compassion and patient reasoning with everyone we meet.
At this point, it’s tempting to link this statement of principle to the personal problems I’ve been having with Sad Puppy and Princess Justice Warrior, but that is both inappropriate subject matter for the internet and something that would rather upset Mild Molly, who usually sits next to me at picnics.
However, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that my public feud with Corduroy has been overblown. His little girl seems perfectly pleasant, if a bit nagging toward her mum. Corduroy himself is stupendously polite in my presence, too—a reaction that I’ve begun to suspect may be encouraged by my sterling British accent—and he always apologises after trying to remove one of my eye buttons. I wish him nothing but the very best, although I worry that he’ll never be satisfied. He constantly professes to have “always” wanted whatever new thing he sees.
Finally, I would like to say that I love my little girl very much, despite the fact that I have no autonomous nervous system or prefrontal cortex allowing me to experience or analyse my emotions. She has always taken excellent care of me, and though I may never fully forgive the lapses in her judgment that allow me to be occasionally kidnapped and drowned in a spinning tub of soapy water, I must still be one of the luckiest stuffed bears to come out of Guangzhou Industrial Development Park and Happy Toy Manufactory Zone. I rather like being hers. Sometimes it seems that we’re the only two creatures that understand each other. That’s why she’s the only one who can call me Harry any time she likes.
Harrods “Harry” Bear