Letter from a vagabond 13 October 2018 Teddy Bear Blues…



If I were in doubt that I was going blog about my Verdun misadventure, that fact alone told me I must.

For those who know me well, it’s no secret I fight, all too frequently it seems, that thing Winston Churchill called “the black dog.” And in the spring of 2009, that old black dog and I were wrestling like there was no tomorrow. Confessing my struggle to a friend when on business in California, she sent me a teddy bear that had once belonged to her brother.  It is known as BearBear.

And he has been a constant in my life.

He’s a well-traveled bear – Costa Rica, most major American cities, the Caribbean, Italy, India, Martha’s Vineyard and, of course, he’s with me now.

Certainly, I know this opens me to a number of raised eyebrows and the confirmation of what many have suspected about my being eccentric.  However, I am told on good authority [I asked Google] that approximately 25% of men travel with their teddy bears. [Who knew?]

When I was a child, I don’t remember having a teddy bear or a binkie.  Maybe, that’s why he means so much to me now. He’s more worn now than he was – all that traveling will do it to you, you know. Just look at me.

If you read my last post, that important thing I left behind in Verdun?

BearBear.  I was sure I had double checked the room before I left and was sure I had BearBear in his place in my knapsack but, as I was on the bus to Metz from Verdun, I reached into my knapsack for something and realized there was no BearBear.

Terror struck my heart and my first impulse was to begin screaming for the bus to stop and turn around.  Calming myself, I did my best to be rational.

I remembered that reception at the hotel I had left was closed between 11 and 5 [I have no idea why].  Going on to Metz, I checked into my hotel, and waited eagerly for 5 and a chance to phone.

What if BearBear had run off to join les mousquetaires Francais de nounours? Or even worse, a thought I would not even entertain:  he had run off to join la Legion Etrangere des ours en peluche?

Patiently, I waited. 5 came and I phoned the number I found on the internet for the hotel, but the call would not go through.

“Your subscription does not support the call.”  Phoning AT&T, they assured me all was fine.  Calling the central hotel chain office in Paris, I kept repeating, “I’ve left something very valuable in Verdun,” in my best broken French.  The kind man connected me to Verdun and it seemed they had BearBear; however, I was not positive as my French, c’est horrible! And somewhere in the conversation I also had to convince him I was not trying to book a room for the following night [a good thing as they were sold out].

Unsure if they really had BearBear, I went out, asked a taxi driver to take me to a good restaurant [options limited on a Monday evening when most things are closed], ended going to the Bistro in the Citadel Hotel where I had an excellent meal of salmon rillettes, cod with lentils, followed by a cheese course, combined with a crisp demi-bouteille of Macon Villages.  When all else fails, good food and wine.

The only way to make it to the hotel when reception was open was to get up and take a 7:05 bus back to Verdun, which I did, getting up at four, wondering, praying, after not really sleeping anyway.

Reaching the hotel at 8:50 in the morning, I used iTranslate to ask the man at the counter if he had my teddy bear?  He brightened and raced to the baggage room and returned with a plush rabbit.

“Non! Non!”  My anguish was unmistakable.  He checked le placard de linge.  No BearBear. My distress was obvious.

Thankfully, he gathered all the staff, including the lovely young lady who had checked me in two days before.  They all awaited eagerly for the outcome of the adventure.

The housekeeper looked at me, smiling shyly, and went back into the linen closet, returned with BearBear and handed him to me.

My joy elicited laughs; they applauded, I nearly wept.  The woman who cleaned my room had, from what I could tell of what they said, recognized his bear magnificence and put him in a special spot, awaiting me.

My relief knew no bounds, my thanks unbridled.

Reunited, we have resumed our tour of Europe.


[Please blame any bad translations from English to French on my apps!]

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