I’ll admit from the onset that I had some fucked up idiosyncrasies when I was a young boy. I used to drag around a pillow with me in the street from when I was 3 until I was 5, claiming it was my “doggy,” which was cool with my double Ph.D.-having Mom. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the doctorates was in Psychology. Clearly, she deemed paying for therapy later in my life a worthwhile risk, rather than the alternative of having to walk and pick up the bodily functions of a real dog.
At 6 years old, I was able to ride a bike without training wheels, but I still didn’t want to ditch the devices that acted as my balance tutors and gurus—that would just be malevolent and extractive as fuck—so I tied the training wheels to my handle bars, which incidentally led to me actually falling off my bike, ironically onto a pile of dog shit.
Fred was sometimes abusive and a straight-up dick to Barney who, with his wife Betty, dug into their hearts and adopted a super strong toddler at a time when adopting was not seen as cool because it did not comply with Jurassic societal norms of the nuclear family model. Essentially, Barney taught me more about unconditional love than almost anyone besides Mummy; he was my homie.
I loved Barney so much that I wanted to drink fluids out of him—and before your sick imaginations take you to dark and abysmal places you can’t come back from because you’ve reached that nadir of your Id, Ego, and Superego—let me just say this. I needed, begged for, and acquired a Barney Rubbly bottle when I was 2 and kept drinking out of that shit until Barney fucked me over in 1st grade.
Because while I could not bring myself to be apart from him—the vessel responsible for so much of my nourishment from multi-vitamins to Vitamin D to glucose and other polysaccharides—I subconsciously knew that I could not let my new classmates of two weeks know that I was a 6 year-old who still drank from a bottle.
I would later tell Mummy it was for her benefit that I maintained the charade. After all, what would those kids think of a grown woman who let her 6 year-old drink from a bottle? (Remember—it was Barney who taught me to think of other people’s feelings in the first place.)
Every morning my Uncle would drive me to school and Mummy to work.
She would get dropped off first, and this is where the sinister transfer would take place. In what became even more routine than our pulmonary systems inhaling and exhaling, Mummy would take Barney with her to work, with the obligatory promise that he would be treated with love and dignity until we reunited later in the afternoon.
Well, on a particular day, my synergy with my Mom was interrupted, our mutual pulmonary system was infiltrated by some kind of inhibitor, I fucked up – because on that day I, as she, many years later, reminded me, “forgot to give Barney” to her.
The only thing was, to get him into the spot I selected and ensure that only me or Lara Croft could find that shit, I had to place him upside down(ish). All was well until recess… then everything sucked, and it sucked for 3 whole months, because I never heard the end of the day Barney and I made a mutual decision not to hang out anymore.
As we kids each went to get our things for recess, two kids at a time, the order randomly selected each day by Mrs. Cunningham, a common theme emerged. As each kid returned, they each indicated that their bags, for some reason, were saturated with something that was not, “there this morning when [they] put it in the cubby.” Finally, Mrs. Cunningham left the room and us in the care of her assistant, and, in her best impression of Sherlock Holmes, returned 3 minutes later.
The class was silent. I was in horror. The only thing that allowed me to keep it together was the knowledge I had earned at a young age—that my lovely and copious melanin count prevented me from blushing or otherwise turning red. So, perhaps I could still get out of this situation that would render me ignominious for life.
But when the young lady next to me, Becky (no shit, that was her name, and no shit, she was white), started crying and yelling, “Barney peed on my bookbag,” justice would have to be served.
Mrs. Cunningham exposed me to the class faster than French surrender (yup, I went there; I was reading Franz Fanon before I wrote this), “Anthony has something to say to the class… Don’t you, Anthony?” It wasn’t a request. I had to apologize to all of them for getting their shit wet, for subjecting to a trauma of micturition. “At least it was just water,” I tried to explain, but this did not mollify the chagrin of my impacted classmates.
“Barney who?” I replied.
“Your friend, your bottle, Anthony.”
And in repeating what I heard from many of my classmates for the next 3 months, I looked Mummy in the eye and explained,“He peed in the wrong place.” This was my way of saying that Barney was more likely on the way to a landfill on the outskirts of D.C., probably somewhere in Maryland.
His lack of bladder control cost me peace in the first 3 months of the new school year. I totally get where Fred Flintstone was coming from now.