I can’t tell you how excited I am to be targeted as the January author for the series Character Assassination Carousel, where a guest blogger gets the pleasure of murdering a classic children’s story. The logo is of a pretty merry-go-round pony littered with bullet holes and dripping blood, so you know it’s going to be funny and very sick. CAC is the brainchild of Nicole of Ninja Mom who started it all off a year ago by ripping apart Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Last month featured James at Hitting the Crossbar with his mock interview with Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty’s misunderstood evil queen, and for February CAC tags Iris at The Bearded Iris. You can click the link on the right to see even more butchered children’s stories.
I decided to parody Don Freeman’s 1968 classic Corduroy, which has had a new life recently with a variety of board books and lift the flap books entitled Corduroy Goes to School, Corduroy Goes to the Beach, Corduroy Goes to the Doctor, Corduroy Goes to the Library, Corduroy Goes to the Fire Station – I suppose this little bear goes just about anywhere as long as parents keep buying the same story for their little tykes.
Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the clearance aisle of Walmart. Day after day he waited with all the other animals and dolls that no one ever wanted since they’d rather play with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Then one morning a little light-skinned African American girl with an ultra right wing conservative Christian head covering stopped and looked straight into Corduroy’s bright eyes.
“Oh, Mommy!” she said. “Look! There’s a cheap imitation of the Build-a-Bear bear I always wanted.”
“Not today, dear.” Her mother was also a light-skinned African American with ironed hair (to make her less threatening to the conservative readers of 1968) who worked all day cleaning houses and all night vacuuming offices. “I’ve spent too much already on things I had to buy because they were sold out of everything that was advertised on sale. Besides, he looks kind of ratty. He’s lost the button to one of his shoulder straps.”
There were tables and chairs and lamps and sofas, and rows and rows of beds – all things that should have been shipped to Lamps Plus, Furniture Warehouses and the mattress superstore where the guy with the really effeminate voice shouts, “Or your mattress is FREEEEEE!!!!” “This must be a palace!” Corduroy’s voice roared through the loudspeaker. “I’ve always wanted to live in a palace.”
He wandered around admiring the furniture, which was normally only used by teenagers making out. “This must be a bed,” said the loudspeaker in Corduroy’s voice. “I’ve always wanted to sleep in a bed.” And up he crawled onto a large, thick mattress, which was infested with bedbugs from all the teenagers.
All at once he saw something small and round, but white, so it probably wasn’t a bedbug. “Why here’s my button!” he cried. And he tried to pick it up. But, like all the other buttons on the mattress, it was tied down tight.
Corduroy didn’t know it yet, but there was someone else awake in the store. It was the night watchman who used to make six figures in real estate but now had this crappy rent-a-cop position at only 39 hours a week because Walmart wouldn’t put him on full time and cover his benefits. When he heard the crash he came dashing down the escalator, armed with a flashlight, pepper spray and a charged stun gun.
He flashed his light over and under sofas and beds until he came to the biggest bed of all, and the particular favorite among the kids making out. And there he saw something that looked like a fuzzy dog toy sticking up from under the cover.
The night watchman expected to see Scooby and Shaggy when he pulled back the cover, but instead he found a small shirtless bear with one of his shoulder straps removed. “Hello!” he said. “Law & Order SVU has been finding half-dressed bears in the bargain section of other Walmarts. Are you alright?”
The night watchman completely covered Corduroy’s mouth, so the bear was unable to answer. “And by the way,” he said to Corduroy, “You’re going to have to pay for that broken floor lamp.”
He plopped Corduroy on top of the freaky clown who looked like he’d been knocked out in a cartoon fight, and next to the doll and bunny who had ingested too much Valium the night before.
Corduroy was just waking up when the first customers came into the store in the morning. And there in front of him stood the light-skinned African American girl with the ultra right wing conservative Christian head covering who had taken two buses and the subway to get to the suburban Walmart.
“I’m Lisa,” she said, and you’re going to be my very own imitation Build-a-Bear bear. I’ve counted what I’ve saved in my piggy bank from selling my free lunch tickets to rich kids on Chicken Nugget Day, and my mom said if you promise not to eat anything I could bring you home.
“Should I put him in an imitation Build-a-Bear coffin for you?” asked the saleslady, who was still dressed from her night shift job at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. “Oh no thank you,” Lisa answered as she covered Corduroy’s mouth like the night watchman so he couldn’t speak.
She ran all the way up the ten flights of stairs (because that good-for-nothing super didn’t fix the elevator), into her apartment, and into her own room.
Corduroy blinked. Along side a girl-size bed stood a little bed just the right size for him, and neither one had bedbugs. Lisa removed her ultra right wing conservative Christian head covering and tickled Corduroy’s butt.
“This must be a home,” his voice echoed across the little room. “I know I’ve always wanted a home.”
Lisa had been trained to sew early in preparation for the seamstress assembly line she was destined to work in. She sat down with Corduroy in her lap and began to sew a button on his overalls.
“I like you the way you are,” she said, “but you look ratty with that broken shoulder strap and the rich kids will tease me if they see you.”
“You must be a friend,” said Corduroy’s echoey voice. “I’ve always wanted a friend.”
“Me too,” said Lisa, as she gave him a big hug. “But your talking is kind of creeping me out,” Lisa said as she sewed his mouth shut.