Real Men Sleep with Bears...

Teddy Bears

For the story of a real man who sleeps with his best friend, a real 1,000 pound grizzly bear named Brutus, check out this video link. As he says, their relationship is truly a lifelong commitment. 

But for those not quite ready to take on a real grizzly bear, well, a teddy bear or other similar substitute might be more appropriate and for sure a teddy is a much lower maintenance bear to have around. Childish as it might seem, men and women of all ages as well as children are attracted to stuffed animals. At night, teddy bears comfort their owners and help them de-stress and sleep better. They also make marvelous best friends who can always be trusted to keep a secret. Teddy will never tell your most intimate secrets to anyone!

The Travel Lodge hotel chain surveyed 6,000 Britons to find that 35% of adults in Briton still sleep with a teddy bear. Twenty-five percent said they took their teddy bear with them when on a business trip. In fact, the hotel chain has 75,000 forgotten bears left behind in its hotels, many of which were owned by adults, not by children. 

Still not convinced? This writer know two mature men who sleep with teddy bears, but I would never tell on them. However, there is one 33 year old man who isn't afraid to tell about his pal Sedrick, a stuffed orange tiger with whom he sleeps every night. As he says, we all hug our pillow from time to time. His just happens to be a ferocious tiger. Unfortunately the internet link is no longer active. 

Then there is the article in Time Magazine (online), a delightful story of a woman's life and her nearly devasting loss of her treasured stuffed animal. Hers was Elephant whom she purchased at a fourth grade school bazaar. Years later when she and her boyfriend took their first overseas trip together, just before boarding their flight he handed her a handmade document with a blue was Elephant's passport. Did she marry him? Yes, of course. If he understood Elephant, then certainly he was the man for her. 

Children have stuffed animal companions, college kids tote them off to college, but what about the older generation? A gift shop in a nursing home has shelves of stuffed animals just waiting to be purchased. Why? For the home's elderly residents. And for those not in a care facility but living alone...Hasbro's Joy for All line of stuffed cats and dogs have animation and sound activated by touch. 

One acquaintance of the author, a breast cancer survivor in her fifties, was able to take an extended trip following her medical treatment. What went with her? A doll, a doll who was in every photo she took and sent back to her family and relatives. For her, the doll reminded her of life and hope for the future. Another acquaintance now well into her senior years, had a roomful of stuffed toys as a young girl. Before she went to sleep at night, each one of them had to be in its rightful place. There they stayed until she was married in her early thirties. Although she had hoped to take them all with her into her new life, her husband to be said absolutely not. She was devasted at having to leave them behind and only occasionally in her later years was she able to purchase a doll to have at the house. 

And then there is the dental assistant who related her experience while working in a U.S. military dental facility. Service members in a unit headed for overseas assignment in one of the troubled areas of the world were required to have a dental checkup and any necessary dental work in preparation for leaving. One officer, a colonel by rank, had not been to a dentist for some time. Why? Because he was terrified of going to a dentist. How did the dental workers handle it? They gave him a big stuffed teddy bear to hug while in the dentist chair...and it worked. Although he did mention something to the effect that "If you ever tell anyone about this, I will..."

Unlike Brutus, Wojtek: The Bear That Went to War was not only a real bear but also a true Polish soldier during World War II. He was given the rank of private so he could get rations and was in time promoted to corporal. Here is a short video summary of  Wojtek's life. Statues in his honor may still be visited. Real bears in war are few but far more common are teddy bears. They too are often known to go to war, especially in Poland. A close Polish friend of the author served in the Polish army tank division. His tank had two teddy bears and one doll. The doll was given to the tank commander by his daughter. All three kept the men company...and their tank. Here is a photograph of a teddy bear mascot in an army tank.

When this same Polish friend was growing up in a small town in northern Poland, each child in the village had his or her own teddy bear or doll (and sometimes both). His was a dark green teddy bear made from old army material. Everyone in the village knew which bear or doll belonged to which child. When a child, boy or girl, went to another house to play or visit, the bear or doll went along and was placed in the front window of the house as a means of identifying the child's location. A parent or older sibling only had to walk down the street and look in the windows of the houses to find the child. 

Last but not least, consider visiting Poland on November 25, when World Teddy Bear Day is celebrated. 

So enjoy your teddy bear all night long. Whether you are male or female, younger or older, married or single...know that you are not alone. There a lot of others out there keeping company with a teddy bear, tiger, elephant, or... However, some of you may just decide to tuck Teddy away for safe keeping when company or friends are coming over, and that's all right. Some hug their pillow, others hug their stuffed friend. 

(Internet links to reports mentioned are included, just in case you might like to read further.)

Portrait of Bear, the furry little mentor of rag dolls Elizabeth Anne and Jenny Marie.

Portrait of Bear, the furry little mentor of rag dolls Elizabeth Anne and Jenny Marie.