Brett Rants


His clothes (not shown) made him look like Doctor Doolittle. No Dear Relative, I do not aspire to a profession in the medical services industry. He's dressed in a yellow topcoat and tails, just like Doctor Doolittle. And that's where he gets his name. Oh, sure. Doctor was, also, a Doctor. But me? I've never had the inclination... not to any meaningful degree.

Doctor is the name for my schnauzer like Stuffed Animal, who sports yellow tails, black and white plaid pants, floppy, ears, and so on.  Here, he is tucked into my first bedroom, a jungle themed room, complete with Imitation African Masks and decorative wall spears that I was not allowed to play with

Earliest Recollections

I don't know who gave me Doctor or why? I believe I had recently watched Doctor Doolittle. And so, when I was presented with this guy, he reminded me of said character. But I do not remember either our first meeting or the naming ceremony. As such, there really is not much to say about this time period.

Purple Cat

At another time (perhaps, on Easter), I was gifted a Large Purple Cat. I believe he was one of those large sawdust filled contraptions. And between the leakage of sawdust and wires poking out of his neck, he did not last a single day. I believe he was taken away the same day he arrived. This may have been a common occurrence. But I do not remember any other Stuffed Animals that met a similar fate. And in some ways, I still mourn the loss of that Purple Cat.

The Great Purge

At some point, I had Chicken Pox. For much of the duration, I was restricted to my bed... quarantined, as it were. I like to think I was a relatively well behaved child. So, I did stay in that bed... except to cross the room to gather my Stuffed Animals, making a sort of nest out of my blankets, a ridged circle with myself at the center, the perimeter lined with all my Stuffed Animals. Since I had gotten all my Stuffed Animals into the nest, there could not have been that many of them... 20-50, maybe. Eh, that may sound like a lot. And for a child, it was. When I told this story (in the past), I used to say hundreds. But since most (if not all) of those Stuffed Animals fit in the nest with plenty or room for myself, there could not have been hundreds.

The pertinent point is that I had left my bed to gather the Stuffed Animals. That was against the rules. And as such, the punishment handed down was the loss of all those Stuffed Animals but three. I could pick which ones to keep.
I picked:
  1. Doctor
  2. Winnie The Pooh
  3. <Who Knows?>
Since I cannot remember anything about the last Stuffed Animal, clearly it was not important... nor in the long run, were many (or most) of the others that I lost.

But then, since I still remember The Purge, clearly they were all important.

Later in life, I witnessed similar procedures acted out for others. In theory, the culled toys were placed in a box, as the reaction was accessed, so any mistakes could be reversed. But I never witnessed the return of anything... ever. Eh, maybe the one. But I don't think that particular item was ever intended to be a hard cull. It was put into cold storage... for safe keeping, as it were.

I do not believe crying was considered a meaningful style of communication. And well, not crying meant those toys were headed for the bin lickity-split. So, from my perspective it was a no-win situation.

Play Time

I do not remember playing with Doctor all that much. Like, it would have been a rarity for me to put a gun in his hands and play war or have him do much of anything. Based on his namesake, he did do a bit of Stuffed Animal First Aid. But as I wasn't all that great at sewing, neither was Doctor. And I do not recall his services ever being in high demand... nor did I ever much want them to be. What I do recall is holding him a lot, sitting next to him a lot, and sleeping with him non-stop.

Interior Design

I doubt I had any input into the Jungle Room Design (per above photo). I liked it. Don't get me wrong. And it was done reasonably well from an Interior Design point of view. But it was not a reflection of my own desires. I was probably two or three when it was put together.

Later, the rooms were switched around and I got a much larger one. Yippie! Soon after, that second room was redecorated in a 1776 Revolutionary War Theme. I was away at Summer Camp (for a solid four weeks), so it is hard to plead deprivation. But when I returned, my room was all done up in this new style, which was great. And all my belongings had been lovingly culled, sorted, and organized on my behalf. This being unexpected, I do not know what was removed nor did I ever miss anything. But you know, I do feel like making note of the event at this remove. So, I'm thinking there is something (some kind of emotional reaction) there.

I'd probably have different feelings about the enterprise if I had been consulted. As of late, I like to play a game where I live my life differently, change things. And in that game, my room has more of a pirate theme, complete with bunk beds for sleepovers. But neither pirates nor bunk beds were important to me back then. And after a few moments, I accepted the change and moved on.

There are two other little items of interest to discuss, therein, though.

First, my personalization of the larger room remained minimal even throughout my teenage years. There were two double-door closets in the room. Let's call them 6'x3' each with two doors at 2'. They were nice closets with built-in shelves. And I was allowed to decorate the closet doors however I wanted. Mostly, I taped up hand-drawn faces of folks with big-heads, sort of like caricatures. But I did put up at least one poster, which I had to cut in half on account of the double-door running through the center.

The second item concerns the room decorations, themselves. The furniture was a fake-wood bedroom set, three dressers, shelves for on-top of those three dressers, a corner desk, a night table, and a final piece about halfway in size between the dressers and the night table. That's not very Revolutionary. So, bathroom mats in the shape of a Drum and a Soldier (so, two of them) hung on the wall. And although I am sure I could have ditched them as I got older, I don't think I took them down... or if I did, not until I was seventeen or so. But all of these items were just background noise. For the most, a chest of drawers is a chest of drawers. No. What really mattered was the Stars & Stripes header stripe (a 12" tall runner of wallpaper) that wrapped around the top of the room. For in this bit of trim, I often watched witches dance and cavort.


The Witches were not named accurately, like, at all. Falling asleep, lying in bed, that wallpaper stripe would come alive and dance about the room. So, we are talking about pre-dream visual effects, hallucinations, and visions. They scared me. And I am sure I spent many a night clutching Doctor, watching the world spin... until I discovered The Witches could not penetrate a layer of cloth. I slept with my head under the covers from that point onward.

One of my great regrets in life (there are so many) is that I ran from these visions rather than embracing them. Of course, this was back in the days of nightmares. And I didn't have any meaningful guidance in the handling of these visions. So, I never stood a chance.

Now? For the most, I cannot be bothered... nor can I (very easily) turn off the narrative play-by-play that fills my mind, as often as I might like, to gaze upon what patently isn't there.

But then, when I recall what has been good about this day (in the Modern Era) thus far, I would have to put my recollections from The World of Dreams at the top of the list.

Doctor in his full protective gear, leather children's work boots, brown buttoned short sleeve shirt, yellow knit baby sweater, some pegasus peace button I do not remember, and a Dog Collar

Protective Gear

I do not remember the provenance of the clothes nor were they particularly important. They were what was lying around. The Dog Collar (in the photo above, it's the brown strip hanging to the left of his neck, above his shoulder), I made at camp (a different camp from the first). And pretty much everything else followed logically (in my mind, anyway) once Doctor had acquired those leather boots. By this time, Doctor did not have feet. They had worn away, the stuffing fallen out, and a protective line of thread (if I remember correctly) sealed off his leg, so there was no further loss of internal-fluids... and/or stuffing.

I never replaced any of his stuffing. By the end (of Middle School), I'd taken numerous Home Economics Courses and could have done the deed... maybe. But we are talking threadbare cloth. And isn't a Stuffed Animal's innards a lot like their soul? Bottom line, I had no conception that the operation (a complete stuffing overhaul) would be a success. And I did not feel like failing at such an important undertaking.

Big Red Chair

I figure I grew up in the "top half of the top half," which means somewhere north of the 75th Percentile, when it comes to raw material wealth. My family was not hurting. I was not hurting. And my second bedroom was fairly massive. All my friends said so... not that I am bragging about my quantity of friends. Besides, for the most, I'd always preferred playing at other people's houses rather than my own. So, it is questionable how many people actually ever saw my room.

Anyway, the room was pretty big, even if it only had two windows... both of which worked as exits in a pinch. But the relevant point is that the room was big. And a large comfy chair complete with ottoman (and/or foot rest) was part of the furnishings. The chair started out black with gold accents. And I think it came from my father's mother. But who really knows? And at the time of the 1776 Renovation (I do not remember the chair being in my room before this), the chair was covered in a red slip cover.

The chair became Doctor's home. And often, I would prop a book in his hands. For myself, I would snuggle next to him (and later as I grew, simply move him out of the way), reading those Fantasy & Science Fiction stories I came to love.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

In fourth grade, Lloyd Alexander's Book of Three was included in the reader. I loved the story, skipped ahead, and asked the teacher for all the other volumes, so I could finish the story. She complied at first. But after I'd gone through the third or fourth reader, she (sort of exasperated at this point) informed me the book could be found in the library.


Yes, really. There was a whole section devoted to this kind of story. There was a whole genre of this type of story.

Later, I would tell how I was attracted to Fantasy on account of the sexy girls on the covers. And this is true. But I can assure you that's not where the infatuation started.

Give me Magic or give me Death!

Tell you what. As a sort of compromise, I will take Magic at Death, and call it even.

The Death Spiral

Thus, Doctor started on my bed and ended his career on a chair... before being stored in a foot-locker.

More or less on my 18th Birthday, my family packed up and moved. I should have stayed put for a variety of reasons. But hindsight is 20/20. And I did not. As part of the move, I reduced my belongings to something along the lines of two footlockers worth. And for the most, I miss nothing from the cull.

Of course, that first cull led to more culls, until culling became a way of life. And now, I can say with the utmost of confidence that everything from my youth can be held in the palm of my hand... if not the confines of my head.

Anyway, Doctor made the move in a footlocker, stayed in the footlocker, and when I transported said footlocker to my land in Arkansas, Doctor came along for the ride.

The Grunge

I bought 40 Acres in the Ozark Mountains. It was wonderful. It was fantastic. It rained every third day just like clockwork. And most everything I brought along got wet and moldy. Not everything. But, yeah. Everything.

I lost my Tarot Deck there. It was a normal store bought deck, from which I had trimmed off the edges, removing the cheater text. In other words, The Four of Swords was just a picture, waiting to be interpreted. And if one wanted to know the Value, one would have to count the number of Swords, something I never did.

The Deck got moldy, hard to cut (let along shuffle), and was difficult to flip through. So, I burnt it. If not then, then years later.

Filled with mold, the same thing happened to Doctor. He self diagnosed, determined there was no cure, and decided his fate... as well as any Stuffed Animal can. I built a particularly big fire (made with solid logs stacked a good 30" tall) and placed him on top, burning him to a cinder. Nothing but ash remained... and the metal buckle to his Dog Collar.

Dog Collar

I'd kept that buckle until just a few months ago. I've been culling harder and harder these days. And over the course of the winter, I decided to ditch the buckle. In truth, it was just a piece of junk metal. That's all anyone else would ever see in it. And it was far from my favorite charm. So, out it went.


I did not do Imaginary Friends, as a child. And now that I do, I cannot be bothered to play with Doctor. I do not know the why's and wherefor's. Perhaps, he simply did not have a well developed personality. Or perhaps, he was something to hold and curl up with on a dark and stormy night, as the witches danced about in my head. But it's not like he whispered to me while all this was going on. Rather, I'd whisper to him. And when it comes to Imaginary Friends, that makes all the difference in the world. I like them to talk back... and/or peer over my shoulder as I write.

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I never even gave Doctor a good voice. Nor do I know how much I care for the type of dog he was. Sure, Doctor ruled. But if I wanted to revive him, could I? Would I? Should I?

Though, all that said. It is not hard to imagine Doctor pacing back and forth at my feet on his hind legs, anxiously awaiting a reading of my words, hoping they do him justice.

© copyright 2021 Brett Paufler