The first gift I received when I was born, aside from that gosh darn gift of life!, was a brand new, pink stuffed dog. As soon as I was able to speak real words, I named him Purple. I don’t remember any of this, but it’s what I was told when I visited the Sphynx Gate that one time I starred in Neverending Story.
Ever since July 30, 1979, this cotton-stuffed object has been the only loyal friend in my life. We’ve been through the war and back, so he doesn’t exactly look the same anymore. In fact, he’s not even pink. What was once a plump and healthy stuffed animal is now a limp, decrepit rag. He’s also in three pieces: a stuffing-less head with one ear, no eyes, and a gaping hole where the nose once was; one washcloth patched paw; and a multi-colored patched torso, the whereabouts of which I am unsure.
Purple went everywhere with me. I had a habit of rubbing his paw between my fingers; it was my comfort, my pacifier. I freaked out anytime someone dropped him. Because he’s real. He has feelings. Nerve-endings. All that.
When I was four, my step-dad threw Purple into the fireplace. He hated my attachment to Purple, said I was too old. It was “time to let him go.” Thankfully, only his ear was singed, and those small black dots burned into Purple was a constant reminder of why I hated my step-dad.
That same year, we went to Florida with my grandparents. My step-dad was all, “Hell no, the dog stays home.” He thought Purple was “filthy” from me carrying him everywhere. My poor pappap, in an effort to make it up to me, bought me pretty much every stuffed Disney character he could find during our stay in Orlando. What kid wouldn’t love that? I know I did, but it wasn’t the same. Rubbing Mickey’s right mouse ear just wasn’t the same.
One of the few pleasant memories I have of my grandma is her sewing kit, full of colored threads, buttons, Jan Brady-esque ribbons, and hope for Purple. Because that kit is what re-attached Purple’s leg time and time again. My step-dad’s mom once offered to operate. I didn’t have the heart to say no; she was such a sweet lady. She returned Purple with his leg sewn on backward. After that, she stuck to the things she was good at, like buying me cheap snow globes.
I’m 31. Purple went from being patched up by my grandma to being surgically altered by Henry. And I still can’t sleep without (some part of) Purple. Fucking love that thing.