By RICH FOLEY
Some may wish to question my sanity, but two weeks ago Medium, one of my 15 stuffed Snuggle bears, visited the Fayette Normal Library for “Bring Your Child to the Library Day.” Lacking a child of my own to bring, all things considered, I think Medium was a fine substitute.
I didn’t just spring his appearance on the library staff without warning. Sometime ago, library assistant Barb Wixom asked if I’d like to display my Snuggle collection in one of the library showcases. I decided against that, but the library event offered a chance to bring one for a visit. With the general reaction of the library staff to the idea being amusement rather than horror, choosing the lucky visitor was the next step.
Medium was the first Snuggle I adopted in the late 1980’s and was known simply as Snuggle at first. After smaller and larger bears joined him, I added Big, Medium and Little to their names. Further additions to the family in later years got more conventional names to identify them.
A few years ago, a friend of both me and the bears gave them a fancy camouflage hat to share. One day, I was looking inside the hat and found a tag that said, simply, “MEDIUM.” After that, there was no doubt who should have custody of the hat, although he freely shares it with his brothers. Wearing the hat in case of bad weather, plus a Shrek watch from a McDonald’s Happy Meal set to the correct time, Medium was dressed and ready for his big adventure.
We checked out the cookies and punch table as we entered the library, but since green punch and a white bear without a bib is a possible disaster in the making, we continued on our way. We soon ran into Barb, who greeted Medium and shook his paw. I think he liked that.
Then we visited the children’s side of the library, where Denise Jensen was hard at work running the craft table. Since neither Medium or I are all that crafty, we just looked around a bit, then returned to the adult side.
By then, Barb’s park ranger husband Leo had arrived. I wasn’t sure what he might say about a bear on the loose, but he seemed to know that Medium was a friendly bear. It probably helped that Medium wasn’t running away with a picnic basket held in his paw.
I logged on to one of the library computers while Medium sat next to the monitor. I took his photo on my cell phone to show his brothers when we got home. I had the feeling that Medium might like his photo taken with the big bear he had seen on the children’s side, too, so we returned and I posed them together for their closeup.
On our way out, we stopped by the circulation desk and got a couple of souvenirs of his visit for Medium to take home. Then, a library patron who had seen Medium earlier brought her selections to the desk. She asked if Medium got his name because he could foretell the future, adding “Can he see dead people?” I laughed at first, but had to admit he seemed to be able to sense things and send messages to me. Perhaps I do need professional help.
Barb asked if Medium had gotten a book bag and I answered that I hadn’t seen any. She said there were some in the lobby, but I told her they must have ran out. She confirmed that, then I heard her ask Denise if she had any left, adding, “Medium needs one.” I would have liked to have seen Denise’s expression when she heard that.
Luckily, some more bags were found and Barb gave one to me, saying, “You can give Medium a ride in this.” I immediately sensed he liked that idea and put him inside for the trip home.
On the way out of the library, I stopped by the snack table for a cup of green punch-none for a bib-less white bear, thank you. I got the feeling Medium was pleased with my idea of wrapping up a couple of the delicious cookies in a napkin to share with the other bears. I placed the cookies in the book bag and Medium guarded them all the way home.
Once there, I showed the other bears the photos of Medium at the library while Medium displayed the souvenirs of his trip. I swear the cookies disappeared while I was out running errands later in the day. And I have the feeling the rest of the bears want to visit the library now, too. I wonder if they’ll ever have a “Bring Your Bear to the Library” day?