From jesus@subgenius.com Mon Jun 15 09:35:43 1998

Newsgroups: alt.slack

Subject: Cement Cuddlers - Worth the read

From: jesus@subgenius.com (Rev. Bevilacqua)

Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 16:35:43 GMT

 

An "Anti-shopping" Trip with the Los Angeles Cacophony Society

>> by Rev. Al

>>

>>I had been thinking for a long time about making cement filled teddy

>>bears. I wasn't exactly sure why. At first it was just a perceptual

>>curiosity I wanted to experience, and I wanted others to experience:

>the idea of being handed what appeared to be a fluffy stuffed animal, only

>to have it go tearing through your relaxed fingers like a lead meteor.

>>

>>The Christmas shopping season seemed an ideal time to get them on the

>>shelves of Los Angeles toy stores, so late in November, members of the

>Los Angeles Cacophony Society gathered in my backyard to gut several dozen

>>plush toys and replace their innards with Portland's finest.

>>

>>We called them, "Cement Cuddlers".

>>

>>Each bear wore a full-color laminated label identifying it as such

>>complete with bar code from another toy. Inside the folded tag was the

>>text:

>>

>> Unfortunate Child, do not mistake me for a living thing,

>> nor seek in me the warmth denied you by your parents. For

>> beneath my plush surface lies a hardness as impervious and

>> unforgiving as this World's own indifference to your mortal

>> struggle. Hold on to me when you are sad, and I will weigh

>> you down, but bear this weight throughout your years, and

>> it will strengthen your limbs and harden your will so that

>> one day no man dare oppose you.

>>

>>The target was easy to select. Not far away was a large not-to-be-named

>>toystore, the biggest and newest of the chain in Southern California, a

>>massive thing like the newly christened Titanic just begging for its

>>iceberg.

>>

>>By 10:30, around a dozen Cacophonists had slipped in managing to place

>>several bears on the shelves without arousing suspicion. Not content to

>>just leave them there we appointed Cacophonist Todd to help direct the

>>management's attention to our prank. At 10:35 Todd entered, located a

>>Cuddler, and brought it to the register, informing the cashier he

>couldn't

>>find the price.

>>

>>Predictably, as he placed the innocent looking toy in those unwary

>hands,

>>it went crashing to the floor like a particularly heavy bowling ball.

>>After this, it just got worse. Todd began to demand a speedier price

>>check, insisting that he had only minutes to complete this transaction

>>before it would be too late to bring the bear to his nephew who was, as

>he

>>repeated many times for our benefit, "in the hospital with a skin

>rash."

>>This element of his story, however, did not appear to provoke the

>>suspicion of the clerk, who apparently had no difficulty in imagining

>her

>>customer entering the children's ward not long before 11 PM to dump a

>lump

>>of fur-covered construction material in the lap of an ailing youngster.

>>

>>However, as Todd's volume increased, backups arrived. One of the more

>>astute clerks commented that she had never seen this toy before and

>wished

>>to know what shelf it had come from. Indignantly Todd led them to the

>>appropriate place. A half dozen clerks, and several customers gathered

>>round in bewilderment, passing the four bears amongst themselves and

>>shaking their heads.

>>

>>I eventually moved into earshot, and heard one woman reading the tag

>>aloud. "That's really deep!" she exclaimed. I could no longer resist.

>I

>>moved in to express curiosity about this toy.

>>

>>"Oh! That's a cute bear," I remarked as I reached for a Cuddler.

>Without

>>warning, it was placed in my hands, which naturally were prepared to be

>>unprepared for its weight. Another thunderous crash!

>>

>>Now I was outraged! "Look here!" I said. "The labels say, for ages

>2-10!

>>How could "Nameless Toystore Chain" sell such a dangerous toy to

>>2-year-olds!"

>>

>>Eventually I was calmed and began contemplating buying one for an older

>>nephew. Cacophonist Frank became interested in buying one too. We all

>went

>>to the register.

>>

>>Thanks to the fully functional bar code, the farce continued. However,

>the

>>bar code used was from another toy, and so the computer identified the

>toy

>>as: Alien Face Hugger $1.99. More panic and confusion. The manager was

>>called. In the chaos, the bears are handed back and forth a few times

>more

>>giving Todd one more opportunity to let one fall, this time "on his

>foot"

>>(about 4 inches from his toes). He begins to wail and pulls off his

>shoe

>>and sock. The clerks are incredulous.

>>

>>"Would you say he dropped that on his foot?" one says to me.

>>

>>"I don't want to get involved," I say, secretly gesturing that Todd

>seems

>>crazy.

>>

>>The manager arrives, and he is young and sour-looking. Easily a

>control

>>freak. We feel he is our divinely ordained victim.

>>

>>They explain the difficulty with the scans, but he seems to pay little

>>attention to the computer. Instead his eyes keep darting to Todd as he

>>leaps around on one foot howling about the lethal bears to other

>customers.

>>

>>"Come with me, sir. We'll see what we can do for you," he snaps,

>dragging

>>Todd off to his little manager pen.

>>

>>Frank and I continue as good cops to Todd's bad cop routine, but

>continue

>>to hover at the register insisting on the purchase. We discuss with the

>>clerks how troubled Todd seems and reread the label.

>>

>>"This is weird," one clerk finally realizes, "a Teddy Bear literally

>>filled with cement."

>>

>>I suggest it might be a doorstop for children's bedrooms.

>>

>>Then a ray of light descends on Nameless Toystore. "It's like a joke

>>someone's playing or something," says one of our blue-vested

>assistants.

>>

>>"You mean," asks Frank, with wonderfully stylized naivete, "like

>someone

>>made them themselves? Maybe just this weekend? Took out the stuffing

>and

>>replaced it with cement?"

>>

>>"Or maybe that crazy guy did," says the clerk.

>>

>>"No, no. Can't be," I say. "Why would he insist on buying from you

>>something he made himself. That's illogical!"

>>

>>Suddenly we hear Todd's voice booming again from the front of the

>store.

>>They have emerged from the manager pen.

>>

>>This will mean so much to Bobby. God Bless you!" And he leaves with the

>>bear in bag. $1.99! Lucky bastard!

>>

>>Manager-man hurries to the counter with his panicky stick-up-the-ass

>gait,

>>one ear pressed to a cellular, doubtlessly consulting the Nameless

>>Toystore overlords. We mob him, insisting to know the price arrived at.

>>

>>"They're not for sale."

>>

>>We are incredulous, indignant. "This item is discontinued." He bites

>off

>>the word and rushes to the shelves to haul the Cuddlers away. We

>continue

>>to needle him as he gathers the bears. Suddenly, he swings around

>holding

>>the furry blocks of cement as if he might do some harm. Perspiration

>has

>>appeared on his forehead.

>>

>>"Look!" he sputters, "I don't know how these things got on the shelves!

>>They DON'T track correctly on the computer. I've never seen them

>before.

>>I have NO explanation. It's like someone's playing a joke on MY

>STORE!"

>>

>>It's in that word "my". You can tell. He's gotten that look like he's

>just

>>seen the first crack in the brand new ceiling. We understand that if

>that

>>crack widens by even a hairline, he's going to see through it. He

>already

>>suspects Todd. He is probably 90 seconds from realizing that we're all

>>part of it.

>>

>>And so we decide to take advantage of our time.

>>

>>"Could you at least tell us the manufacturer so maybe we could order

>the

>>toy?"

>>

>>He whips the label over, and reads, Brutal Truth Toys.

>>

>>This is a good time to leave. There's still a half hour before

>midnight,

>>so we take advantage of the energy we've gathered to make a few prank

>>phone calls. I call a rival Nameless Toystore asking for Cement

>Cuddlers.

>>

>>I'm put on hold and another clerk picks up the phone and claims to have

>>actually pulled up the info on my Cement Cuddlers on the computer. He

>>tells me I can get a raincheck. Sadly, when I ask for the stock number,

>he

>>suddenly loses the record that he "just had, just a minute ago".

>>

>>After going through three or four baffled and fairly easy to baffle

>>clerks, I finally get to the manager. I am slightly indignant at the

>>delays and feigned ignorance of a product I JUST PURCHASED THAT VERY

>NIGHT

>>at their rival, the new Burbank store, we'd just invaded. The manager

>>explains that this new store carries certain promotional items not

>>available to the other stores because it is the newest and largest. I

>>detect a note of envy in his voice, and soften my approach. I become

>>confidential and ask if the new store hired away a lot of good workers.

>>

>>"You know," I tell him, "I know it's big and everything, but it's so

>>new... I mean, they didn't quite seem to have it all together yet." He

>>agrees. He's heard rumors to this effect. "All the employees seemed, I

>>don't know... nervous somehow. It's like the store's too big for them

>to

>>handle. I get a nervous feeling when I go in there."

>>

>>He knows what I mean.

>>

>>"I think it's that manager, maybe. He seemed so tense and kinda angry

>>somehow. He doesn't give me a good feeling. He seems a little odd.

>Have

>>you heard anything like this?"

>>

>>He's heard some funny things about this upstart.

>>

>>"Yeah. Odd manager. Odd store. Come to think of it this whole cement

>teddy

>>bear thing is pretty odd. Maybe this was just a special thing he wanted

>to

>>order. Maybe they were his idea." He agrees, but he won't call the

>other

>>store to see if they still have them in stock there. So I tell him I'll

>>check back later.

>>

>>And I will. It was a good night, and we still have 18 more bears to

>>distribute.

>>