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A crown of skulls and fat cats.   —   Kid Stuff

A few years ago Adam gave me an odd gift, a bright pink pillow case with a horse skull on it. It quickly became one of my favorite things and every night as it lay before me on the bed, welcoming me into the promise of slumber with a toothy grin, my spirits lift and my head finds its eager rest upon the pink casing, the skull so familiar now it's like a dreamtime friend.

Affectionate thoughts of this pink skull pillowcase eventually led way to memories of a previous favorite pillowcase from childhood, and ebay, the land where lost childhoods go to be reclaimed, assisted me once again in finding this beloved artifact, the Garfield and Odie pillowcase.

Sleeping on it for the first time last night was a wonderfully nostalgic sensation, turning my head to the right Odie is running away from me, turning my head to the left Garfield is running straight at me, I smiled deeply and drifted off with thoughts of fat cats and lasagna and a pale fellow named Jon. And so the pillowcase prompts this post about who else, Garfield and Odie.

As a child I was in love with Garfield and Odie. Garfield made me laugh, his antics and sarcasm and sour outlook on the mundane things in life registered something familiar within me, a budding personality that perhaps resembled qualities such as those. And his mean streak was somewhat familiar as well. Odie called out to the sympathetic side of me. Always sweet and forgiving the relationship between Garfield and Odie mirrored my relationship with my sister. I was Garfield, always picking on my unsuspecting, undeserving, innocent sister, Odie. And she always forgave, always bounced back, always wanted to be my friend. Garfield's captivity as a housecat also resonated, as a child stuck being a child and craving the freedoms of an adult, I sympathized with Garfield not being allowed to do what he wanted, go where he wanted, and so when Garfield retaliated with disobedience resulting in adventure, my spirit sang an envious song. Garfield also dispensed valuable advice, like eating pepporoni pizza late at night will give you nightmares.

Garfield's heyday was in the 80's and early 90's when I was a kid. There were holiday TV specials, a regularly broadcasted cartoon, comic strip books and stuffed animals. I was a fan of all things Garfield and Odie and would regularly watch the cartoons and read the books, over and over again. Here, my favorite Garfield comic strip from the 4th Garfield Treasury, made me laugh every single time.

As a gift one year, my father had a Garfield necklace charm made for my sister and me. I wore it on a daily basis for years.

But most of all, above all other Garfield and Odie treasures that I possessed, my most beloved among them was my stuffed animal, Odie. I was already a big stuffed animal kind of kid, I had dozens of them, all named and ranked and cherished deeply. I slept with my favorites, stacked up around me like nighttime guards keeping watch over their slumbering princess. (And if you look to my pillow case it is the very one I found again on Ebay pictured above, and if you look to the the walls surrounding me you'll see a New Kids on the Block poster, my mother's high school photo, and, that's right, Michael Jackson.)

One year when I was about five or six, my father and my grandfather (his dad) got into a terrible argument at our house. As my grandfather was leaving he turned to my sister and I, gave us each a $20 bill, kissed us on our heads, and left. It was the last time I ever saw my grandfather but of course I didn't know the severity of what had just happened until years later. The only thing that mattered to me then and there was that $20 bill. My father rode a Harley for about the first dozen or so years of my life. There was a motorcycle supply place in Flint called Rocky's and my father would regularly take me on his visits there. The store smelled like leather and motor grease and it was the most magical place I'd ever been to. They had motorcycle vests and biker boots and camping gear and weapons and helmets and hats and belts and chains and motorcycles and stuffed animals. Wait, huh? Perhaps catering to all the kids (like me) who would frequent the shop with their biker dads, they had a bin of stuffed animals. And it's there that I laid eyes upon Odie. Oh how I coveted him! He was nearly $20 though and no matter how I begged my father refused to cave and so with every visit to Rocky's I would scoop up Odie and carry him around with me until our sorrowful parting of ways in the end. You see where this is going, of course you do, when my grandfather floated that $20 bill in my lap my eyes lit up and the first thing that occurred to me was now I could go to Rocky's and rescue my friend from his shelf-bound fate. And so Odie, my dearest sweet Odie, came into my life (through the unfortunate departure of my grandfather) to be fiercely loved and to accompany me on bike rides and tree climbs and hikes into the woods and trips to slumber parties and to cousin's houses and yes, even to school.

One day, not long after Odie had come into my life, I took him to the library for one of the evening children's book readings. There I sat on the floor with Odie in my lap and lost myself to the fairy tales being read, the smell of old books and the soft sounds of bubbles from the nearby fish tank. Later that night when I arrived home the horror stuck me that I had left Odie behind. An incoherent wailing immediately forced itself from my chest and my mother could do nothing to tame me. She called the library but alas, Odie was not there. He's been dognapped! Stolen! Lost forever to the wilds of one girl's childhood forgetfulness and another's youthful coveting. I was heartbroken, crushed, my dreams that night were fitful ones and my eyes that morning were red and swollen. Going to school that next day was almost impossible. I was deep in mourning but my mother, with a firm hand, scooted me out the door dragging my frown behind me as I went. As I took my seat in class a boy named Troy, a classmate and neighborhood boy, arrived at my side with Odie in hand. He had also been at the library for the reading that previous night and had seen me leave Odie behind. He rescued Odie from the sticky clutches of other children and kept him safe and sound at his house down the street from my own. My relief was overwhelming and if boys didn't have cooties I would have kissed him! From that day forward I maintained a secret crush on Troy, he was, after all, my hero.

It wasn't until years later that I even owned a Garfield stuffed animal. Every Christmas my parents would hand my sister and I the Sears Catalog, which, if you remember back in the day the Sears Catalog was about as big as a telephone book. And in it there was an extensive toy section. My sister and I were allowed to create a Christmas list based on the items in the catalog, in reflection it was a fruitless effort because rarely did we ever receive items from our list, oh sure there were one or two but mostly our Christmas gifts were whatever my mother fancied buying us. But the simple act of creating those lists year after year, they became part of the tradition of Christmas and we eagerly complied time and time again. My lists were always extensive of course, including ridiculously extravagant things like giant size Barbie mansions, a new bike, video games, a dozen barbies, literally pages of every single thing in the catalog I wanted plus the obligatory request for a pony. In part I did it to get a laugh from my parents, I was one of those kids who lived to make adults laugh, but also I did it in part because ... hell, you never know, right? So one Christmas as a gift I received a Garfield stuffed animal wearing a sweater that says:

And so told is the story of my love for Garfield and Odie. As an adult, sadly, I no longer give them much thought. Odie remains a cherished friend but no longer does he lay beside me in bed (with two cats and a husband there's barely room for me in bed) and no longer does he accompany me on my many adventures in life. Perhaps that's why I sought the Garfield and Odie pillowcase that I cherished as a child. To bring them back to my life in a way, reminding me of why they were there in the first place.

Of course Garfield and Odie have their place in the lives of adults, too. Though in somewhat strange and unsettling ways.

Posted 3.30.2010 6:06:06 PM

The Husband wrote:
You realize Tsunami is sniffing Odie's butt?

Perhaps he senses a kindred spirit.
Posted 3/31/2010 10:06:01 AM - The Husband's website
Doll wrote:
Of course I realize that. It's why I snapped the picture and posted it. It's HI-LARIOUS.
Posted 3/31/2010 12:36:31 PM
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