Everybody remembers their very first teddy bear. Mine was a relatively flat fella named Hug Me. Why was he named Hug Me? Because that's what it said on his shirt and I was a remarkably unimaginative child when it came to naming stuffed animals, most of whom were simply called by the type of animal they were with a "y" pinned to the end like Eeyore's tail. Liony, Dragony and Doggy joined Hug Me to create the Mt. Rushmore of stuffed animals in my household.
Like most beloved teddy bears, by the time Hug Me hit retirement he looked pretty rough. My mother liked to say that he was "well-loved," but I know the truth, I put that bear through some serious shit. I dragged him everywhere with me and never really put much thought into his well-being. If I was playing in a mud puddle, he was with me. If I was climbing a tree, he was with me. If I was in some sort of fight with a friend of mine, he was not only with me, but he was likely being used as a weapon.
Hug Me was decapitated at least twice. He had so many unidentifiable stains it was impossible to keep count. Stuffing trickled between the seams holding together his feet. The cloth that served as his skin was so threadbare it was almost translucent.
I may be a grown-ass man as I write this but I'm certainly not above getting teary-eyed over my old pal Hug Me. He was the best companion a socially awkward only child could have.
Clearly I'm not the only person to feel a certain affinity for their teddy bear as a ton of folks have gotten tattoos to memorialize their childhood companions. Some of them are sickeningly sweet, others have a harder edge, but you can tell all of these teddy bear tattoos come from a place of love.