Monday, July 13, 2009

The Academically Atypical Adventures of Cash and Bart - Chapter 1.33 Guate Stuffed Animal Attack

This particular episode in the Academically Atypical Adventures really dates back decades to when I was a young kid, living with the fam in Wilmington Delaware. My brother and I, with my parents or not (can’t remember) went to either Vegas or Atlantic City or a local fair with other friends of ours from Wilmington. During the trip, my brother was fortunate enough (and yes the following is based purely of luck) to hit the middle bottle with a prize ring and return home with an enormous and highly coveted white stuffed bear he called “Snowy” or some such nonsense but was really named “Charles”.

As a logical reaction of contempt to my brother’s triumph and my failure, and because he was particularly unpleasant and conniving during that particular 8-year growing up period (one instance when I was only a few weeks old my brother turned to my mom on a crowded bus and maliciously asked what they were gonna do when I was ‘gone’) I returned home from school early every day to fight the giant Charles. I would rush home from Chadsford Elementary, run upstairs and get Charles from my brother’s room, put on my tiny boxing gloves and wail on him without control, working up a healthy glorious sweat of vengeance. In the three years we lived in Wilmington, the middle two in Buenos Aires, and only the first of three years in Sao Paulo (I was maturing…) I was never defeated by the giant Snowbear Charles. This experience cemented not a fear of giant Snowbears (what was there to fear from the weak Charles after all?) but a bizarre type of uncontrolled anger that results from seeing giant stuffed animals.

(important, this man has nothing to do with the adventures)

This anger played an important role in the final days I spent in Guate as our two heroes searched for the Visas that would spark their academic trip to life. We left Antigua for Guate when we were assured that we had an appointment at the Mexican Embassy the following day and that all the required documents had been sent from the UVM. So we left our much beloved hotel in Antigua, a luxury experience so rare and rewarding that Bart took pictures of himself holding up all the paintings and other room décor.

We took a bus to the Guate airport, where we met the Ixtatan Foundation director Beth Neville, another classmate and friend Emanuel, a noted filmmaker and documentarian (Chip Krezell) there to record the ‘before’ of these adventures for the Foundation, and our host for the two days in Guate, a Mateano, and former student named Ronaldo Andres. We happily dodged the aggressive airport obstacle course and taxied on to Ronaldo’s place in Guate. Ronaldo graduated with Cash and Bart and is now working on his own college experience in the capital, living with Mateano friends in the center. We’re also very proud of his parallel adventures…

But as for Cash, Bart and me, we climbed the stairs to Ronny’s apartment, arriving together as I immediately felt my laugh trail off, felt my smile disappear. Ronaldo’s apartment in Guate has a pretty big spacious living room. Two of the four walls have raised shelves completely populated by giant stuffed animals. Giraffes, Mickey Mouse, different types of Lizard, Puppies, a Turtle, a Power Ranger or Transformer, and yes, plenty of huge stuffed bears. The night we shared before the embassy visit would be marked by these animals, by Charles and my Wilmington past.


  1. with an old rusty compass and our wits, we'll get that bear... run and hide, charles... run and hide. - murphy

  2. We'll get 'im Murphy we'll get that silly beautiful bear...

  3. I'd like to set the record straight --
    (1) no, it was not luck, and I was aiming for that middle bottle
    (2) Fernando not only punched "Charles" (that is not his real name) but threw my favorite stuffed dog - Colita - out the window, for which I will never truly forgive him