Monday, June 2, 2008

A Tale of Three Doobis.

This is Doobi Otso.

The camera really doesn't do him justice. He's way cute, so cute in fact that he defied being given as a gift. Lin and I bought him for something like 5$ at a Boston J.C. Penny's. We meant to give him to my cousin Nathalie's two year old boy, but Nathalie lived in New york and while we waited for our next trip there we sort of got attached to this dumb piece of made in China fluff. Nathalie's kid got a wooden dinosaur that clacked as it moved about on the floor, we gained a toy and the finest bedroom decoration and a mock baby to take in our own juvenile moments or, alternately, parentlike ones. I'm sure lot's of couples do that. Don't they?

What most couples don't do is name their teddy bear Doobi Otso. Doobi is the Hebrew word for a teddy bear, and has nothing to do with the intake of soft drugs. Otso was the word used by ancient Finns to refer to the bear. The actual Finnish word Karhu, signifying bear, was taboo in shamanistic Finnish culture. The bear was a sacred god whose name could not be uttered. I still own a tiny Finnish children's book name "Panu and Otso make music". In it a boy and his teddy bear play various instruments. Otso is the bear's name, and that's a cute bear too.

Panu and Otso make music was the gift of an ex-lover on mine. Ulla from Helsinki, who hoped it would help me learn music-related words in her somewhat less than musical language. Ulla is no longer my lover, nor is Lin. right now I'm with downtown lover.

Which brings us to the following bear, Doobi Hamoodi.

He wasn't named that before I came along. He was just plain old Doobi then. downtown lover's dad brought it for her from a trip abroad when she was five. She asked for a huge bear and he promised she would get one. When the family picked the dad from the airport he handed her very typically sized Doobi Hamoodi. DL swallowed her disappointemnt and said thank you nicely. When they arrived at home he pulled out of his suitcase a replica twice her size of the same bear.

It should come as no surprise that it is the tiny bear, rather than the huge one, that became a lifelong bed buddy to her. The big bear remains in her parents home, nearly untouched, while doobi Hamoodi is shaggy to the point of disgrace. His fur is super-worn and his eyes are so far sunken into his face that he appears to be perfectly blind. That's a well hugged bear, a bear with a history.

When two lovers meet, so do their histories. I showed Doobi Otso to DL when we first came together, told her his story and explained that he was almost family in my seven year long previous relatioship. Such a long relationship is a lot for a new lover to contend with, so she was surely pleased about the fact Doobi Otso was kept in a closet rather than soaking my tears of loss in bed every night. Not to mention that I am a man in his thirties, I really shouldn't have a teddy bear anywhere outside of a closet.

Doobi Hamoodi, on the other hand, is partner to DL's free spirited years. Like the portrait of Marlene Dietrich in Susanne Vega's famous song, he was watching the rise and fall of all her former men. He was even there when she was undressed the night that inspired her much quoted two line poem, first published in "Maayan":

When you undress me
Even the shirt moans.

"This bear is so cute," I told her when I first saw him, "When you undress him, even his sweater moans." I realized that respecting Doobi Hamoodi would be respecting DL's past and present, what made her a woman and what made her a little girl. However, while I was focusing on that Doobi, she discovered that there was yet another one in my closet.

Meet Doobi Gefilte.

Lin gave me Doobi Gefilte before she left, so I can start anew, without the baggage linked to Doobi Otso. It was the sweetest farewell gift imaginable, and yet I kept him in the closet too. For god's sake, I'm a man!

I pulled it out for her on one of the first nights she stayed over "I can't fall asleep" she complained, "And I don't have my doobi..." I replied that I have doobi around that might be useful, a realy nice one. I used the Aramaic term "shufra D'shufra" - finest of the fine.

Downtown lover fell madly in love. She realizes it's a gift from my ex, so in a way it can't be embraced by her. It can never be "ours". If we want our own relationship Doobi, we had better go out and purchase one, but damn it! it's a cute bear! Lin made no compromise in picking him out. It's a top notch bear. How can DL not fall in love with it? and was it not a gift? it was too! a gift meant to symbolize renewal. Doobi Gefilte can be loved. or can he be?

What to do? A mad web of Doobious passion and intrigue has formed. In relationships nothing is simple, not even stuffed animals. Nostalgia, love, pain, sexual histories and foam stuffing interwove to form the greatest drama of our time. In the meantime all doobis enjoy their time in the limelight, and doobi gefilte even wore a special red ribbon in its honor.


Anonymous said...

Yuval – Ta-ase li doobie… I think your girl is implying that she wants a new doobie that will symbolize this new era of your lives. Can’t you hear the cry for help? And as for Gefilte, I believe it is not safe. No matter how she pretends to love him, he caries the mark of kain in his forehead and sooner or later (and take my word here…) gefilte will burn! I would give it away to a nephew or to a certain sexy bartender in Jerusalem ASAP (that is if you ever want to see him again). Until then keep your girl away from matches and tell her I say hi.

lazy_n said...

OK slightly off topic but, who is your favorite fictional doobi? I realize the list is long so you can chose two.

Helen said...

Surely Doobi Hamoodi is actually Winnie the Pooh? What/Who's Hamoodi?

Avital said...

Hi Yuval
Do you remember 5th grade? I do. I came across a piece you wrote for the Achbar website no too long ago and it brought back a wave of elementary school memories. You turned me on to Pink Floyd, and though that's not really my scene anymore, I am forever in your debt. Everything else sucked in elementary school, and all other schools as well. If you ever come by the ma'arechet at Shocken street, stop by and say hi if you want. I'll be the one chained to a desk on the second floor at the website office.
Avital from JDS

Yuval said...

Avital, Such a surprise! i'm definitely coming to visit you there soon.

Gilli, we settled our doobi differences last night. That's a calming thought.

Helen, tu as raison. He used to be a Winnie the Pooh, but doesn't look much like one anymore. Hamoodi means cutie, but it can also be an Arabic or Persian name, a nickname for Muhammad. (in this case this is purely coincidental. this isn't one of my political posts)

And you, Lazy N. Such difficult questions you ask. Peddington is of course up there, as is Winnie the Pooh (in the ernest Sheperd renderings, rather than disney version). I'm already up to two but I won't be honest unless I add Shoobi Doobi, that Israeli Winnie the Pooh ripoff that was so much a part of my childhood. Shoobi Doobi was the hero of skits on some radio show. I'll add that the skit writer was a dentist, just for ya'll's trivia fun.

smadare said...

I know I'm way off topic here, but you've just made me go back to that night/morning in Natbag. when Macedonia was an adventure waiting to happen and you were looking for a cigarette pack for your girl… :)

lazy_n said...

Winnie is everyone's favorite, and for good reason, which is why I allow two. I have a weakness for Kolargol, an originally French bear who used to have brief cameos on Israeli children's shows. Kolargol's dream, to those who are scratching their heads, was to be a famous opera singer. Unfortunately, he had a terrible singing voice. I always appreciate the broken dreams motif in storytelling, especially when the audience is 4-6 year olds, so this is one reason I like Kolargol. The other reason is the brilliant casting of Tzipi Shavit as the voice of the atonal bear in the Israeli dubbed version. What is it about loud, shrill, bone piercing voices that appeal so much to young children. I was sure that annoying woman had disappeared from sight (and sound) never to return, and yet one recent evening I was walking past the TV when the familiar voice made me cringe. Apparently she is hosting some kind of reality show where a bunch of fat bastards compete for who is the fattest bastard, or something like that. Too bad she couldn't get "Le roi des oiseaux" to give her a magic whistle like Kolargol's.