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Cozy Thoughts and Confessions of a Thumb Sucker

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I’ve got this thing with sock monkeys.

Not quite to the level where my affinity would ever, EVER, justify the wearing of this little number.

In fact, if something is made from fleece and has attached feet, I can guarantee you that I’m OUT.

But nonetheless, I do own at least three sock monkey themed Christmas ornaments, a fleece blanket, (wait – TWO fleece blankets) and my preferred slipper choice for the last four winters have all been sock-monkey themed.

To me, a sock monkey is the perfect symbol for silly-coziness, which is something that is unbelievably comforting to me.

When I was little, I had a sock monkey named George.

For some reason, my brain tells me that he was handmade by my great grandma Harriet. I have no idea if that fact is true or not, but I have believed it for so long, it might as well be. (Hey, dad! Now I see how you do that! Awesome!)

George was a sock monkey that had button eyes, a little cap and a nice, skinny tail. I was in the throes of my thumb sucking phase. (Right-hand only, conducted when resting or watching TV, everyday until I was eight, people. EIGHT! Thank God for braces…)

George was my go-to thumb sucking counterpart of the moment. Before him was Kermie the Frog — not to be confused with the actual “Kermit the Frog”. To me, Kermie was just as good, even if he was not quite authentic.

Then came and Potbelly the Koala. I think I even incorporated one of my mother’s throw pillows for a short time. Most likely, the lace-trimmed, beige, couch-pillow became part of the routine after one of my animal accessories had been confiscated with the false hope that it would persuade me from inhaling my own body part in a disappointing, drooly fashion that could only be considered as awkward and parentally-embarrassing in Dr. Spock’s opinion.

My childhood vice was all about combining texture with the sweet spot that existed right above my upper lip. There was nothing that could compete with the sheer, peaceful bliss that accompanied my thumb sucking sessions. Not the American cheese slice that I had folded into as many tiny squares as I possibly could (to make the before-dinner snack last longer) or the amazing burst you could get from a Gobble Stick (R.I.P. you delicious, cheese-filled wonder-snack).

With Kermie, I managed to rub the fur tight off his right arm, leaving behind this strange mesh fabric that felt amazing to three-year-old-me.

Potbelly the Koala was only as important as his rough tag. Unfortunately, his tag was sewn into the seam that ran along the bottom of his body, so I’d have to turn him ass-up, legs out, to properly access the taggy goods. It’s one thing to see a child sucking their thumb while cuddling their stuffed animal. It’s another thing entirely to see them taking advantage of a poor stuffed marsupial in that fashion.

George was similarly taken advantage of. With George the sock monkey, it was all about the junction where the tail had been sewn onto his slender, stuffed body. In fact, I ended up rubbing his tail right off. Through the threads and through the fabric – POOF! No more tail. My mother attached a bumpy piece of dark, brown, calico fabric to George’s back. Not just where his tail had been. Nope.The patch covered up nearly his entire back.

And yet, it didn’t stop me and my quest.

I began to utilize the top corner of the fabric and was desperate to keep George in my life.

Then one day, my mother made Georgette.

Georgette was a brand new sock monkey that my mom had surprised me with after a nap. Or at least, I think I had been sleeping before she walked into my room on Dallin Street with a new, plump and clean sock monkey in her hands.

Georgette was fatter than George. She had a sweet, little apron attached to her clean, socky body and a hat that matched George’s in style, yet not drooly grime.

She was beautiful and my mother had made her just for me.

I took her in my hands and promptly threw her across the room and screamed, “I HATE HER!”

This is the part of the story where my mother’s heart either broke into a thousand pieces or hardened into a Fortress of Solitude. I really don’t know what she did or how she handled my lack of appreciation. I was much too busy burying my face into my pillow and screaming because I would no longer get to have George.

George was disgustingly crusty, and his sock-body was too weak to handle the washing machine without dissolving completely. It was time to add him to the burn pile and pray that he became a real monkey and scamper away with all his monkey friends. (Yes, I absolutely LOVE the story of “The Velveteen Rabbit”, by the way. And no – we did not have a burn pile. I grew up in the desert suburbs. Those were not normally allowed.)

I’m not sure when I warmed up to the idea of Georgette the Sock Monkey, but I have seen photographic proof that I, indeed, stopped hating her. In old, out of focus pictures that I took myself with my mom’s fancy automatic camera (a Canon Joy) you can see Georgette posing in with a rose in a vase, or you can see her just hanging out on my bed with my throw pillows. Sometimes I’d dress her up in my Cabbage Patch clothes to keep her from getting bored with her apron.

Georgette was the last animal that I remember being bonded with as a kid. Soon my baby sister was born, my thumb sucking stopped, and Georgette got added to the top of the hutch of my dresser with all the other stuffed animals I collected, yet was never interested in enough to actually play with*

Sock monkeys are now still a soothing sight and I don’t think I’ll grow out of them soon. Do I need another sock monkey magnet/t-shirt/pair of pajama bottoms? No. I think I’m good. Ok, well, maybe the pajama bottoms but only for when it’s SUPER cold or I have the flu.

*One time I decided to decorate my hutch with Christmas lights. You know, the giant C9 bulbs that were meant for outdoor use only? I laid them across the laps of my stuffed animals and came back from an evening errand with my parents to a strange burning smell. I’ll always be sorry about that, random teddy bear wearing a hand-knit sweater. Sorry about branding you with a giant red Christmas light. My bad.

About Jenny Z

I love to overuse italics, misplaced hyphens and internal dialogue when I write about my usual favorite topic, myself.

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