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Journals of an Insane Genius - February 2000

Standing in line with Mel at the Create-A-Bear workshop in the Fashion Square Mall in Phoenix I have an inspiration. "Iíll make her a tripod cat", I announce. "Thatís perfect, sheíll love it", Mel agrees.

We were taking a break from the Phoenix Phiesta XXII: Phuture Schlock regional gathering and Mel wanted to pick up some gifts for her children. She decided her little daughter needed a new monkey; hey what kid doesnít? As soon as I saw the workshop I knew I couldnít be left out. You get to select your new friend, choose a voice for it, find it a heart (which you must kiss on both sides and make a wish on before inserting), stuff it, sew it together (actually you watch the last two activities - the Create-A-Bear workshop folks know better than to give scissors to strangers that just wander in off the street. All of my actions in the next hour will reinforce their decision), fluff it, and name it.

Since I am technically in between actual girlfriends right now, I decide to get a gift for my roommate, Jen, who I met at a Halloween party. I kind of thought that dyeing her hair blue after getting an eyebrow piercing and a tattoo to go with her pierced tongue might just limit her employment opportunities. Jen, however, proved me wrong and has recently started a new job answering phones for the Post Office. She enjoys working there and her supervisor thinks her blue hair is cool.

One day When Jen was young her family went out to adopt a kitten. Her baby sister held one up and said, "This One Mommie! I want this one!", to which her mom replied, "Ummm... that one only has three legs kiddo, pick a different one". Closer examination revealed that every kitten in the litter had been born missing a leg. So her sister got to keep the tripod cat. During the past few months whenever Jen wanted to convince me to do something that I didnít want to do, she would imitate a deranged tripod cat and limp around the apartment howling in a voice that bears no resemblance to the actual vocal range of an earth feline. The unfortunate part being that even if I acquiesced quickly she would still find the joke amusing enough to continue for the next quarter hour or so.

So I select my kitten, smack the voice box against the wall a few times and then step on it until it sounds warped, and then proceed to the stuffing station. "Ummm... Is it possible to have one of the arms removed from this before we stuff it?" I ask politely. As a person accustomed to getting strange looks from people I was still surprised by the level of disbelief this girl managed to evoke with her facial expression. I explain the reasoning and even offer to pay extra but she decides to ask the manager. I ignore the icy glares coming from the line I am now holding up. She returns with management approval and I am allowed to cut into the front of the line at the sewing station to have the surgery performed. More dirty looks.

I have to explain myself again to the triumvirate of seamstresses (three French girls sewing) employed there. The one performing the surgery was initially timid, but once she started the cutting she warmed to the task. They quickly start to grasp the awesome power they hold. "You know, we could make a bear with two heads", one suggests. Theyíre smiling at me now and, believing that I have converts, I decide to really open their eyes. "If you really want to grab peopleís attention what you need to do is slice open the chest cavity of one bear," I suggest animatedly, "and then sew another bearís head so that it appears to be gnawing itís way out, just like in that movie, "Alien". Make sure to sew the first oneís heart in itís teeth, and mix red stuffing with the white." As usual Iíve gone too far and you can actually see the words crystallize in the air as the conversation freezes. "Or... you could, ummm... just do that two headed thing..." I finish meekly.

Everyone eventually realizes that Iím not going to hurt them and they relax again. When it comes time to register my new animal and fill out a birth certificate I dub him Tripod. Mel helps me put together a customized beaded collar spelling out his name (The real profit for Create-A-Bear is in the accessories) and we head for the checkout counter. Just then the seamstress approaches us and tells us that every once in a while someone puts together something they really like and they take a picture of it for their photo album. The manager wants to know if they can take a picture of Tripod. Obviously I agree to this.

Picture taken, pet paid for, I took Tripod home to Jen. Elation does not begin to describe her response. The only drawback is that now that Jen has a partner in crime I have to endure the yowlings of twin Tripod cats whenever Jen wants something.

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