Tones of home: sleeping with old friends

By Andrew Mirzayi

On the north door to Dupre Hall a sign declares in large boldface “NO PETS.” Luckily, I’ve already found a way around that rule. The secret is stuffed animals. I realize that they make an ill substitute for a real pet. But on a cold, rainy night when my roommates are both asleep and I feel homesick, anxious or doubtful, nothing cheers me up more than looking over to see Scampie, my seal, smiling back at me.

When I was six, my father brought Scampie back from one of his long business trips. While the rest of my friends desired slightly more conventional careers, I had an obsession with sea animals and I dreamed of being a marine biologist. My dad would always bring me a seal or dolphin stuffed animal from somewhere exotic, like Detroit or Seattle, and I would give them names ending with “-ie.”

I was ashamed to tell people I brought Scampie to college. My parents didn’t know that I had packed him in a dark corner of one of my boxes. I tried to hide him from my roommates until I realized they didn’t mind what or who I slept with, as long as we were quiet. One of them, Collin Cousins ’10, said, “If I hadn’t lost my stuffed animal when I was in eighth grade, I would have brought it with me.”

And as I met new people at Mac, I learned I was not alone or a freak for bringing my stuffed animals with me, and that many other people, guys and girls, bring theirs as well. I have seen rhinos, gorillas, puppies, and countless other species. They represent our nostalgia for homes and childhoods. Julia Marder ’10, said, “I had my mom bring them after I came because I realized I wanted a touch of home.”

Don’t call it an obsession, insanity, or some weird fetish because it really isn’t. I just love Scampie and the memories he represents and I’m not ashamed to say it. So if someone asks me if I had someone in my room last night or if I’ve slept with anyone lately, I will answer with no shame in my voice, “Scampie!”