When I went out for my afternoon constitutional just now, I saw a teddy bear lying face down on the sidewalk in front of my steps. At first I was concerned that he was the first to fall, part of a larger contingent of plush that was advancing on my apartment all Akira-style, either planning to kill me in my sleep, liberate the Pal Mickey that’s been sitting unused in my closet, or both.
Then I realized it’s probably a lot less ominous a story than that. He probably just got really sloshed at the picnic and stumbled back to the wrong house. Unable to make the stairs, he just passed out on the street. Sad, really. I knew that the economic downturn and the Bush administration had hit the toy industry hard. And in some way I guess I knew that recessions always hit the teddy bears the hardest. But it was always a distant, clinical kind of liberal sympathy. You have to be confronted with personal stories like this one to really understand the magnitude of the problem.