Thursday, September 14, 2017

Spare Ribbons

Over the last couple years, a number of you delightfully attentive readers have asked, “What’s the deal with Older Daughter and that ribbon you always draw for her in your comics?” So I thought I’d take a moment to explain.
When Older Daughter was born, she was given a special stuffed animal by Wife’s sister. He was a black and white dog named Pupper McGupper:
Pupper had a black ribbon tied in a bow as his collar. Older Daughter loved Pupper. Especially that ribbon. She slept with Pupper every night and clutched his ribbon while she did.
Eventually, she worked out away to hold Pupper, clutch his ribbon, and suck her thumb all at the same time.
One-handed cuddle/thumb/ribbon technique, demonstrated by a master (do not attempt without supervision).
Years later, of course, the ribbon came off Pupper and refused to be reattached. So, Older Daughter just held the ribbon and cuddled Pupper separately.
More conventional two-handed cuddle with accompanying thumb/ribbon (feel free to attempt without supervision).
Wife insisted on cleaning ribbon from time to time, because it became truly nasty, as Older Daughter would occasionally drool on it at night.
A more notorious and deadly pairing history has never known.
One time, ribbon came free of the load of laundry in which it was being washed. It wrapped around the axle that allowed the drum of the machine to spin and the whole thing shuddered to a halt.
This was, of course, terrifying. Not the possibility that we’d need to buy a new washing machine, of course, but the idea that Ribbon (it had officially been given a name by this time) might be lost forever.
All parents should teach their children, even in infancy, the importance and weight of the universal “No” sign, as they need to understand how frequently it will impact their lives. Here you can see the symbol capturing Toddler Older Daughter’s imagination.
I spent most of a Saturday dismantling the washing machine. Eventually, I freed Ribbon.
The washing machine returned to life. Ribbon returned, but he was a thin, tattered remnant of his former self.
Nevertheless, Older Daughter continued to sleep with it — what’s more, the scary near-loss of Ribbon caused her to want to have it in her hand all the time. Rubbing the ribbon between her fingers became a comforting thing.
Hand shown actual size.
Which of course meant Ribbon continued to wear away, even faster than when she just slept with it. Wife continued to wash it from time to time (in a mesh bag of course), which meant it wore down still further.
Instead of drawing a picture of Ribbon, I decided to draw Jules Pfeiffer’s rendering of Morticia Addams’ hair with an extraordinary bout of split ends.
One day, sadly, we all decided that it was time to put Ribbon away for good. We bought a special box and it remains enshrined in there even now.
The Little Prince was particularly satisfied to see this when he asked me to draw a picture of Ribbon. Far happier than my previous drawing, which caused him to say, “No! I don’t want a picture of Jules Pfeiffer’s rendering of Morticia Addams’ hair with an extraordinary bout of split ends! I want a picture of Ribbon!”
But Older Daughter had discovered over the years that there were certain ribbons that had a very similar shape and feel to the one from Pupper. In particular, she found that the green ribbons used to decorate teddy bears from Harrod’s department store in London (and, indeed, often to wrap other gifts from Harrod’s) were especially good.
We were living in London at the time, hence the access to Harrod’s stuff. Or, in many cases, other people’s Harrod’s stuff.
So, whenever opportunities arose, we’d collect (read: hoard) these ribbons so that Older Daughter wouldn’t have to worry about Ribbon II going missing. She also then had “travel versions” of Ribbon.
Fun fact: the collective noun for a group of green ribbons is a “Harrod,” not a “hoard” as in, “For our older daughter, we hoarded a whole Harrod of green ribbons.”
Because rubbing Ribbon still brings her back to the feeling she had when she hugged Pupper in her crib, I think.
So she continues to walk around with a ribbon in her hand.
Even to this very day.
She's 22, in case you wondered.