Pandas make me feel guilty because I was once a child, and now I can't let that go.
I'm the kind of person who remembers the worst things, generally blown out of any reasonable proportion, and has trouble with the recall of pleasant things, or positive things I may have done.
My sister is almost eight years older than I am. Given that this incident took place at her Bat Mitzvah, we'll assume I was maybe five.
I was five.
I was five and yet I can't seem to shrug this off.
Pandas will always make me feel like an asshole.
See, there were these stuffed animals in balloons. It was a cool concept, and most of them were filled with these hideous monkey things.
They were probably not that scary, but they freaked me out pretty hardcore as a kid.
One of the balloons contained a panda.
This was specifically meant to be my cousin's panda, as she was moving into a black and white apartment. None of this is particularly relevant to her life now, yet I still want to send her a panda every time I see one.
But I want to, like some crazed stalker.
I feel guilty, to this day, because over twenty years ago, a small child version of myself wanted a panda instead of a monkey.
I think I probably cried. People felt bad for me. Instead of going, "That dumb brat is having a hissy fit, don't give in!" They gave me the panda.
In the end, that turned out to be it's own punishment.
Almost immediately, I felt like an ass. I couldn't even have that childish satisfaction of "HAH! I got what I wanted!" because I was too busy feeling like a jackass, but being too embarrassed to take it all back.
I was FIVE.
So, we took the panda home.
We had a Jack Russell Terrier at the time. These dogs are hunters. They'll tear anything apart.
I was not particularly fond of this dog.
He was not particularly fond of the panda, and so the panda lost it's face.
My thoughts of, "Well, I could send the panda to my cousin anonymously" were destroyed. Instead, I sat staring at the mutilated toy, feeling even worse.
Guilt became disgust and then wrapped back around to feeling guilty all over again.
It took a very long time, possibly years, before we threw the damn thing away.
So, well over twenty years later, my mother gave me something for my toothbrush.
Not only do I find pandas still make me feel like an asshole, the fact that the toothbrush goes up the ass of this panda made things worse. Here is an actual photo of the thing:
Adorable, right? I used him and he was cute, but beyond the guilt, I was reminded every day of Memphis.
Mom and I were visiting Memphis Tennessee back in 2003 or 2004, looking at a college there. We barely saw the school, but I loved the area. The zoo was particularly interesting with all of it's Egyptian themed decor and animals that looked well taken care of and happy, which is rare for a zoo.
Thing was, there was this panda.
Come on, you knew the poop was coming eventually.
It was adorable.
And then it turned around.