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Davis, California

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Column: Tooter in love

For the past three years, I’ve lived with a group of eight incredible individuals. Yes, eight of them – six girls, one cardboard cutout of Legolas and one dinosaur.

And by dinosaur, I don’t mean “really old person who refuses to graduate and quit marching band.” I mean Tooter, the little yellow Beanie Baby who has become our apartment mascot.

To be exact, Tooter is a parasaurolophus. His name comes from the bony crest extending from the back of his skull, thought to aid in communication. Although fancy scientific studies suggest the noise produced was a low rumbling, I prefer to think that it made sounds like “hork, hork, hork” and “aROOOOgah!”

While it’s possible the crest was used to attract mates, alas, Tooter has had no such luck. With the recent spate of happy engagements among my friends, I’ve come to realize that Tooter needs someone special in his life, too. He’s the kind of hadrosaurid any troll, Barbie or barrel of monkeys would be lucky to have.

Tooter first gained fame in our apartment as an alarm clock. When one of our friends fell asleep on the floor, Tooter crept up to his ear.

“Mister Joey,” he said in his adorable, squeaky voice, his yellow eyes peering into Joey’s. “Wake up! The movie’s over, it’s time to get up! Jooooooeeeeeey!”

Now, who wouldn’t want to wake up to that every morning? Of course, when Tooter is feeling more rambunctious, he often wakes people up by flying across the room and crash landing on their face.

Come to think of it, Tooter is an extremely helpful guy. When pre-Picnic Day preparations kept me from attending my own surprise birthday party, Tooter stepped up to the plate (literally) and blew out my candles for me. Though his birthday was technically the day before, he was more than willing to accept the party in my honor.

An active member of the household, Tooter often volunteers as apartment décor. He has participated in both Nativity and Noah’s Ark scenes on the coffee table, standing in for the traditionally underrepresented dinosaur demographic in such displays. Most recently, we gave him tissue-paper wings and a paperclip halo and stuck him atop our Christmas tree.

Tooter is also a world-traveler and enjoys spending holidays abroad. Last Thanksgiving, we mailed him to our roommate in Paris, and for the Fourth of July, he accompanied me to India. He plans to go to Maui after graduating this June.

As you can see, my dinosaur friend is more than deserving of the very best mate. Unfortunately, due to the tragic missteps so many of us make, he hasn’t been very lucky in love.

For instance, he once dated a slinky. Though it was very attractive and could do some cool tricks on the stairs, it was very uncommunicative and just wouldn’t talk about its feelings.

Understandably, this emotional unavailability frustrated Tooter, and they went their separate ways (in fact, the slinky went several separate ways itself). Now, Tooter knows he’s looking for someone who can be open and vulnerable with him.

Next, Tooter made the mistake of giving himself to someone with a diametrically-opposed worldview. He started seeing another dinosaur Beanie Baby named Toothy, a carnivore. Tooter, on the other hand, is an herbivore, subsisting on algal goo from Putah Creek and the occasional cookie.

They still had a lot in common – their Late Cretaceous origins, bipedal capacities and a love of crochet. But after spending time with Toothy, Tooter started noticing a strange hunger when hanging out with his other friends. He even nibbled on Mr. Sheepie once or twice, much to his shame. The night Toothy took a bite out of Tooter’s leg, he knew it was over. They were just too different.

It’s not merely that Tooter goes out with the wrong toys. He’s too insecure to pursue the right ones. For years, he pined after my brother’s plush crocodile, Cranky. She was beautiful, kind and scalier than anyone he’d ever laid eyes on.

She just seemed too good for him. So he settled for slinkies and T. rexes who didn’t love him the way he deserved to be loved. Only after Cranky was happily married to a fine teddy bear from Germany did she tell Tooter she’d adored and respected him all along. Who knows what could have happened if he’d taken a chance with Cranky?

But that ship has sailed, and Tooter is looking for love anew. He’s willing to wait for the right toy – someone pure of heart and fuzzy of face. Until then, he’ll be chilling at my apartment, scaring napping people, illustrating Bible stories and stealing birthday parties.

BETH SEKISHIRO is not kidding. She really does want to throw Tooter a wedding sometime soon. To set your stuffed animal up with Tooter, contact her at blseki@ucdavis.edu.


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