Jen Schneider πŸ”ˆβ€‹

How to Build a Better Bear

It’s easy enough to build a bear.
I know this because I read, shop,
and buy the news. It’s just
as easy to buy one. I know this,
too, because I do. Bear markets
and bear bars are both real.
As real as bare bottoms
and down in the dumps
basements. Filene’s may have closed.
Macy’s Backstage, too. Close friends
have been repurposed. Both in (and of)
the flesh. Flesh on sale, too. One
size fits most ails. Hugs on demand.
Both hypo-allergenic
and machine washable.

The Build a Bear
Workshop organization
has mastered
both the art
of marketing and the plot
of commodification.
Aptly sewn. To meet self-curated
demand. The company has coined
and trademarked (names
and logos, no BOGOs)
a recipe.

I recite as I look. “Looking
good,” I whisper to a newly
birthed bear dressed
in crushed red velvet
and whiskers. I’m ready
ready to work.

Work it. Shop it. Buy it.

What’s it,” I say.
The clerk smirks.
Does she know her
caricature rhymes? Or
is that charade mine? No
matter – it’s time.

The bell has rung. My turn
has come. Come one, come all.
I want a bear / I want a hug,
a bear hug – no more
than three-feet tall.

Crave it. Create it. Buy it.

In five easy steps.
No coins needed. Credit
rarely denied. The clerk smiles.
"This way," she says. I comply.

Counter compliance. Sign
Terms of Service. Then choose.
Choose first, a furry friend.
Second, clothes & shoes. Assorted
shapes. Shape sorters. Third, sounds
& scents. Fishing for compliments.
Complementary hues. Fourth,
accessories. Appropriately tied.

Tongue-tied, the company
is careful
careful not to market Step Five.

Payment is, of course,
a part of the process.
and parsed. Each
of us a potential
parcel. And purchase.

Purchase, I do. I choose
a “Cozy Cuddles Teddy,”
a twenty-nine-dollar hug.
I add a Gandalf costume –
because, why not. It’s (no
duplicates) looks like a wizard
suit, well suited.

And it (again coveted) is on
on the shelf –
prime for picking. Picked
for plucking. Despite the tag that
reads “online exclusive.” Seems

only the price (twenty-one
dollars) is exclusive.

than what I’d typically spend
at the Marshalls across the street.
Of course, I overspend, as one
at a bar tends to do. All consumers
marshalled. Two by two
feet. A feat well-favored.
Scented of vanilla and spice.
I add
some jingles
and some combat boots.

I also buy an “I love you” sound,
just so I can hear what it sounds like.
Articles replicate. References unknown.
What it sounds like at any time.
Any time I press the my
bear’s heart.
Just to the right of its Hallmark-
inspired belly.

I love you” is on sale.
On sale for three dollars.
Dollars I didn’t plan to spend.
To spend on love, I mean,
was never my intent. Black
Friday sales on replay
sell promises.
Promises made. The clerk smiles
smiles and tosses a coupon.
No BOGOs. None needed.
I throw a Hail
Mary (the weather unknown)
and clean up (and out)
the level-two accessory barn.

I pluck adornments
like ornaments. Artificial
light. Nights on
the town. Dress
my cuddly bear that loves
me on demand to the nines.
Nine times.

1.Red felt bow.
2.Cozy yellow knit hat with a purple pom.
3.Black frame glasses. Just in case.
4.Cases of Hello Kitty tissues.
5.Brown Teddy-Tales Wristie.
6.White wristlets for dining.
7.Pink blankets for whining.
8.Purple booties and sandals in pastel plaids.
9.An A+ flag. Striped. Flagged

to make the purchase
easy. To build
a better bear. Easy to
find hugs and love, too.

About the Author

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of Recollections, Invisible Ink, On Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.