And if you’re me, so who might I be?
In the beginning, there was Scruffy and Tuffy. Then there were Ruffy, Duffy and Cuffy, roughly.
Surely you recall, C.Bear says, how we’d acquired Scruffy and Tuffy, the identical twin Bears with the blue gingham bows. Scruffy flew south to live with Phoenix Bear and his gang, or, as C.Bear puts it, to live with “Wooley and Phoenix and them.” Then, we impulsively sent off for three more matching miniature Bears with the blue gingham bows. The catalogs call them “Gift Bears”, but our crew wouldn’t hear of it, so they all stayed.
All the Bears can count to two now, and most can get accurately get up to “three”. All are expected to know their own name, and there’s the rub. We’re quite sure each of the lookalike Uffy Brothers know their own names, but they like to play games with us and each other.
If you ask one of the Uffy Brothers what his name is, he’ll turn to another Uffy and say very seriously,
“Hey, which Uffy are you? I thought I was Cuffy, but you could be Ruffy and I could be Tuffy, or he could be Tuffy and you could be Duffy. But how could you be me when I’m you? Say, could you read my tag to me?”
Of course none of the Uffys can read, so that doesn’t help. We have tiny little initials written onto each Uffy’s bear tag. But we can’t read these ourselves, unless the light is strong and we have our glasses on.
When Jay Leno’s Tonight show starts, and Kevin’s band strikes up the theme song, and C.Bear has finished his little opening dance (“Rock out, C.Bear!”), there’s precious little we can read in the flickering lights of late evening NBC.
And then all of the Uffys will go into a mock debate about who’s whom. At least, it’s our belief that it’s a mock debate. This degenerates into silliness, and from there, into pandemonium, until finally, no Uffy will venture to tell us who’s whom.
There’s just no solution for it but to make the markings bigger, or give them all distinctive bows, or even learn their names. Parents of quadruplets are supposed to have little trouble at all identifying each child, for each is ever so slightly different, and each develops a distinct personality, but I’m not so sure whether that’s in actual practice, or in theory.
One night, well into Leno, after another round of the Uffy hijinks, Leno tells us about the guest roster and says he’ll be right back, “after this.” And you know what that means.
“After this” means all the Bears have to be back in their designated sleepstations. It means tomorrow’s a workday, Junior will soon enough have to shepherd the Bronco to work, and somehow make it by 8:00AM. “After this” means no more Leno.
At this point, Cubby piped up,
“Hey, never mind all that fooling around for a minute, Uffys. A.Bear, I wanna know, what ever happened to your visit to Little Bear? You never did tell us.”
The television set clicked off. The room was silent for a little while. Finally A.Bear said,
“Well, that’s the problem. I fell asleep. I’m not sure what happened. I think it might have been all a dream, you guys.”
Cubby’s eyes picked up a reflection of a streetlight or something, and they gleamed strangely for just a second or two. C.Bear noticed this, and he also noticed that there was no streetlight, because the curtains were closed.
“So, what kind of a dream would that BE, A.Bear?”, asked Cubby. C.Bear noticed that, for a relatively new Bear, Cubby sure was pretty aggressive about putting A.Bear on the spot. But he didn’t say anything.
“Well, I just don’t know, Cubby. But you are right that it’s still important that we find out, so I will just try to make some sense of it all, and let everybody know.”
“Well, OK, I was just asking, that’s all. Thanks, A.Bear.”
On that note it was time for everybody to say goodnight, and the Uffys attempted to start one last round of “And I’m me so who are you”, but we squelched that pretty fast. C.Bear made a note to have a little talk with A.Bear tomorrow about that Cubby bear. And everybody did say goodnight at last.
Well, before you could even count “One, Two, Three, Uffy!”, it was tomorrow, and it was Sunshine, and all of the alarms seemed to go off at once. Those who had to go to work, were scrambling around getting ready. The Bears, on the other hand, sleepily rubbed their eyes, which was their own conspiratorial signal for “sleeping in”.
There you have it. A Bear’s life is a demanding life, but who would be better qualified to live it?
The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. — James Branch Cabell
© Alex Forbes, August 11, 1998
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