February 29, 2012

Late Night Surgery

No, we haven’t decided to sample another South African hospital. It was me, in this case, who was the surgeon, and I performed it right here at home. Without anesthesia. Unless you count the glass of wine I needed to make it through it.

The patient was Billy, who you haven’t met yet. He is the guy Sunshine has been inseparable from since birth. Billy is not his real name of course. Yes, I even give blog names to my children’s stuffed animals. You never know what evil lurks out there attacking innocent loveys who are too imprudent to hide their true identity from the blogosphere.



As you can see, Billy adorns many of Sunshine's baby pictures. But lately Billy has been in a bad way. He desperately needed to be sewn up. And to do that, he had to first be taken completely apart, more or less. The reason I had to perform the surgery in the darkest of hours was that Sunshine couldn’t possibly see what I was doing. 

It was too gory.

Billy split open and stripped of his innards

See, the problem when you’re an expat, more so than for other people, is that your family is typically spread across the globe. In the days before online ordering this meant presents would be shipped from one continent to the next for the various occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. And the arrival of new babies. So it was that Sunshine came to have Billy. He was purchased from Käthe Kruse in Germany, lovingly packed up by doting grandparents, and embarked on his journey to North Carolina. There he was rubbed and pulled and dunked into chocolate pudding and thrown up upon and dragged through the snow and sent through many many washing cycles until he was basically loved to a partial death about 4 years later. At which time a doting aunt was commissioned to please, somehow, I don’t care how you do it, procure a Billy replacement. Unbelievably, she succeeded (thanks to the branding commitment of Käthe Kruse) and we thought we were home free. Surely another four years would be ample time for Sunshine to wean herself from Billy.

We put Billy to bed one night with a big band-aid, wishing him a speedy recovery, and wouldn’t you know it, the next morning he woke up like brand-new. He was also a lot more colorful and about twice as fat, and I’m sure he had the wrong kind of smell, because four-year-old Sunshine regarded him very suspiciously for the rest of the day. But he was accepted soon enough, and this is how Billy2 came into our lives. Billy1 was put away into a big box where such things go that mothers cannot bring themselves to throw away.

Except that Käthe Kruse must be seriously going downhill. The quality of Billy2 was nowhere near the quality of Billy1, so he started showing signs of old age much earlier, even though he spent not nearly as much time in the tumble dryer. And then they discontinued the Billy line! What to do? Because in the past half year, Billy2 has gone downhill fast. The fabric was practically dissolving, stuffing was coming out everywhere, and whenever you sewed up one spot he would rip open with his guts spilling out right next to it. He looked so awful that I began to think that Billy1, tucked away in his memory box, might actually now be in better shape, comparatively. Wait a minute… Yes, you guessed it, exactly what I was thinking: Why not switch them back?

A big glass of wine helped me get through surgery

This is how I came to sit with a glass of wine – a HUGE glass of wine – one recent evening, Billy parts spread out in front of me. Billy1 unfortunately hadn’t been in very fit shape either, but patches of his skin were passable. I identified the useable parts, and then set to cutting. When Noisette came home from a late dinner and spotted me in the kitchen, he thought I was crazy. It was ten at night and I had just started.

The gory scene on our kitchen counter

Billy1 had to give an arm and a leg, in the truest sense

I am proud to say that Operation Billy succeeded. I myself had doubts about halfway through, especially since threading needles – and, trust me, there were lots of needles to be threaded – over the age of 40, already hard at the best of times, is near impossible with only lamplight to guide you. I needed several generous refills of wine to see me through, and somewhere around midnight I even had to do some touch-up work with a permanent marker on his spots to account for the different stages of fading in the fabric.

But I triumphed in the end.


At midnight I realized with horror that what I thought were polka dots were little bunny
heads, and that all the eyes and whiskers were missing on Billy1s skin (or was it
Billy2's?) so I got a thin black sharpie and started adding them back in.

Refurbished Billy, post-surgery, and slightly two-toned

The things we don't do for our children. What do you think? Sometimes I wonder who is more attached to Billy, Sunshine or me. Am I crazy to go to such lengths for a silly stuffed animal? But let’s just say he holds many special memories for me. And when you look at the final scene of the night, you will agree that it was all well worth it.

Refurbished Billy tucked back to where he belongs

Sunshine was absolutely thrilled the next day. I just have to make sure she never, ever, comes across the memory box, which is now holding a few stray arms and legs, just to be safe. She was ecstatic over Refurbished Billy.

Until she went to camp this week.

Billy back on the operating table, just two weeks post-surgery

Billy has now been issued a travel ban. Due to old age. Sunshine protested and said he wasn't old at all, but I told her that in Billy-years, he is a hundred and five.

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

A couple of days ago you said you had to drink water not wine since it is lent and you have given up wine for lent! I can only hope Billy's surgery took place before lent began.

Only the Anglican in me would notice this.

Love the new look (of the blog).

Anon in Pretoria

Sine said...

Now you've made me smile. I love to know that I have such diligent readers! And yes, surgery was pre-lent, but I typically schedule my posts ahead (and then rearrange them when it suits me) but perfectionist me (though not Anglican:-) should have realized the inconsistency and edited it out.

So far no slip-ups on the Lent thing...