I'm going to have to wash all my linen when I get over this cold/flu/whooping cough illness, and I don't have a lot of time to do laundry, so in some ways, it might be better if I didn't recover for a while, or at least if I didn't premise my neuroses on children's books. Namely, The Velveteen Rabbit. Who remembers The Velveteen Rabbit?
In the story, a boy has scarlet fever (another supposedly extinct romantic-sounding Victorian illness that is probably re-emerging on this campus) and is kept company by his stuffed bunny, which is a conscious being made of something called "velveteen," or maybe that's just an obscure Victorian way of saying "something made of velvet." I didn't really ask these questions when I was eight. Anyway, once the boy recovers, his doctor instructs his parents to burn all the things in his room so that he doesn't come into contact with the germs and get re-infected, and the rabbit gets thrown in the trash heap.
I forgot what happens next, because the main lesson I personally derived from this story was the part about washing your stuff after you recover from some contagious illness, but I guess the bunny doesn't get incinerated after all, because that would probably be sad. There is also probably a moral--not about personal hygiene--but I missed that too.
We read the book in my second grade reading class from Hell, and then we had an assignment to bring in some stuffed animal or toy that was really special to us and explain why. The point was that the toy should be old and worn, but I was not about to submit my now armless and largely furless stuffed rabbit from Russia (stuffed with, might I add, insulation sponge--how low-class!) to the scrutiny of my clearly better supplied classmates, so I brought a generic teddy bear that played "It's A Small World" when you wound up a key in its ass, a gift which I had conveniently received the previous week from my mother as comfort and compensation after a beefy girl appropriately named Beeta had pushed me on the blacktop during recess, giving me a split lip and some slightly shifted front teeth. So with my mouth swelled to the size of a grapefruit, at least I had a brand new toy to show to my class.
Except it turned out that the rest of them had taken the assignment literally and brought in their smelly, limb-less rags covered in drool and recounted exciting tales of their adventures with said rags, like the time they got lost in the mall, just them and Raggy all alone versus the big bad world, and they had to fend for themselves for 20 whole minutes before mall security found and returned them to their frazzled parents. When it was my turn, I explained that my mother had bought my musical bear for me last week at Osco because my lip was bleeding. A lot. I pointed to my massively swelled mouth for emphasis. But I failed to melt the icy heart of my teacher with my tale of woe, and I got a check-minus on the project.
Since I still have that teddy bear (making it 12 years old, which is longer than anyone in my second grade class had even lived up to that point) and its musical butt still functions, and I have this whole long story to tell about it, I guess I could get a check-plus if I re-did my presentation now. And that's some consolation.