Monday, July 1, 2013

Mimi: The Blankie Chronicles

When my second son, Stephen, was born he inherited a blanket that his brother Sam had never cottoned to.  It was a gorgeous thing my mother had bestowed upon my first-born, from Saks Fifth Avenue's special layette line, all white flannel and satin appliques.  There was a bunch of multicolored balloons and the word BABY, as I recall, in flamboyant letters, larger than life.  Stephen loved this bit of luxury and his nanny, Tami Auer, made certain that every time he left the house, Mimi was snuggled in his arms.  She understood the value of attachment.  When Stephen was old enough to talk he told us the blankie's name was Mimi.  At four he was kicked out of the first of a few preschools for visiting Mimi in the cloakroom without asking permission.  At five, in pre-kindergarten, an arch Early Childhood aide beamed at Steve and said, "You have a blankie!  Does it have a name?"
     "Mimi," Stephen said.
     "And is Mimi a boy, or a girl?"
     Stephen looked from the aide to the blankie and back again.
     "Do you see a penis?" he asked.

Mimi has rarely been far from Stephen's life, or more importantly, his nose, in the years since.  Mimi has traveled to Europe on several occasions.  She has survived a medical evacuation from Geneva Glen Camp and twelve-hour days of fencing.  She has gone into surgery for Stephen's broken nose and has recently graduated from 8th grade.  We fully expect Mimi, or what remains of her, to matriculate at a future college and eventually to walk down the aisle in Stephen's wedding coat pocket.  She has grown old and threadbare in his keeping.  She is as loyal as his dog, but much easier to pack and infinitely easier to wash.  And she never fails to reassure.  When we hit a rough patch of turbulence en route to Columbus, Ohio, for Fencing Nationals a few days ago, Steve turned to me in the airplane darkness and said, sotto voce, "I think I'll get Mimi out now."

So it was with considerable sadness this afternoon that I interrupted a call from my husband to take a frantic cellphone beep from my fifteen year-old son.
     "What is it, Steve?"
     "Mom!  Did you move Mimi?"
     It seems that the hotel housekeepers in downtown Columbus had mistaken a tattered friend for a piece of trash.  Mimi had disappeared while we were at the Convention Center watching a teammate medal in Division III Men's Saber.  Not with a bang, I texted my husband, but a whimper.  Mimi ought to have gone down on the Titanic.  Not a trash chute.

I misjudged the power of a kid's love, of course.
Steve bolted from our hotel room while I was still putting away my cell phone and tracked down the Hilton housekeepers who'd so kindly folded our towels and arranged our sheets this morning.  He rescued Mimi from the Trash Bag of Death, and she will live, presumably, until she disintegrates.  Mark and I often laugh about Steve's attachment to his blankie--but it occurred to me today that Mimi is equally fortunate.  She's got a guy with a sword at her back.  We should all be so lucky.