Happy birthday, Noah

I mentioned before that for my birthday last year, I received this alligator.

His name is Giuseppe (ju-SEP-ee) and he's an Italian alligator, both of which facts distressed my mother quite a bit when I first started bringing him over to her house. For one, she didn't understand why he was Italian ("That's like asking you why you're Korean", I replied somewhat indignantly); for another, she couldn't get his name right.

"Igor?"
"Giuseppe, Mom. He's Italian."
"Frappucino? Frappaluci?"

To the point where it made me wish I'd saved "Giuseppe" for my first son's name, because it would never cease to amuse me, hearing my mom try to remember her grandson's name and going through her convoluted list of possible alternatives in the process.

She's got it by now, I think. She sees him often enough– if I'm over at her house, it's a near-guarantee that he's with me, or at least waiting in the car. It's like I've reverted to those childhood days of yore; I take this alligator everywhere with me (except to class; but he comes to school with me and keeps guard in the car while I'm in class): he runs errands with me, comes to lunch with my mom, hangs out at Phil'z in SF, joins us for dinner at a fancy Thai restaurant in SOMA, chills at the bar and occasionally, even DJs. And obviously, too, if he's kicking it in San Francisco– yeah, I carry him on-board airplanes (he's my "one personal item").

On the one hand, I feel ridiculous about this. I'm 25 and carting around this enormous, slippery (read: not-easy-to-cart-around) stuffed alligator, everywhere. Granted, most people find him adorable (the ladies especially seem to love him– flight attendants and waitresses can't get enough of him), but all the same, I suspect his omnipresence in my day-to-day duties makes a lot of other people cock an eyebrow.

On the other hand: I've grown to become surprisingly– what's the word? Not codependent. I don't die or writhe in agony if I don't have him around, though there have been a few instances where I've been tempted to turn the car back to retrieve him (but didn't give in). But I've become accustomed to his presence next to, or relatively near by, me. He comforts me, in that same simple way that our stuffed animals and dolls and other blankets comforted us when we were little kids. When the sting of loneliness comes while I'm away from Noah– when my arms are aching with the emptiness of longing to hold him– when my hands are desperately missing the feel of his hair and face beneath them– Giuseppe placates me. He's the bullet between my teeth when the pain of missing Noah becomes near-unbearable.

And even when I'm with Noah, I still like to have my jolly rotund companion around. I like to think that in this way, Giuseppe soaks up the images of what's going on, recording all our times together and transmitting them back to me later when I'm hugging him to death and trying not to be sad. And plus, he's just always so exquisitely happy. How can life not be bettered by a fat, sassy, ladies-lovin' alligator? How can the world?

At least he's not a love fern. Be grateful for that much, Internet.

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