I creak down the stairs, my ankles, knees and various other bits aligning themselves like Sydney buses in George St at 5 pm for the adventures the day may throw their way.
My first stop is to admire Teddy. I don’t need to trawl the Gaydar subheadings hairy, chunky or Bear. He arrives as Rha, one of the furkids, brings him to me. I have to be very interested, she has to shy away and feign disinterest.
Teddy will never threaten my relationship status. His eyes are partly closed, hanging on a thread. Just the sort of person my boyfriend finds attractive enough to dance with through the streets of a tiny Andean town near where the near condors soar — if my ancient brain’s storage and retrieval system serves me correctly.
Gorgeous wool is now a single matted dreadlock. Don’t worry — Teddy has a cleanliness routine second to none.
After being dragged around the yard and the house, riding in the back seat of cars, smelling dogs’ bums, he trudges upstairs, heaves himself into the front loader for his dose of cleansing aquatic acrobatics.
Two hours later, a fluffy round ball presents himself to the furkids for inspection. His eyes shine like a partygoer’s the day after, his nose has a new lease of coloured life.
But poor Ted’s arms and legs are beyond redemption. Like a snowball with direction-altering steering attachments, they stick out from the fluff. Short fat arms, chunky hands with a distinct lack of mobility. It takes Rha an hour or two to make him human again. Teddy needs to be bitten, pulled, squashed and moulded to be the lovable fellow he really is underneath.
So we are off to the park. Leads attached, snacks in hand, toys for throwing, and Teddy in mouth. We set up games. We swim, chase things that fly, rumble our brother in the long grass, get covered in burrs. Ted sits in the car alone.
He is not comfortable with how he is perceived by others. He doesn’t feel good about himself. He wavers between the musical Hair and ‘There’s a bear in there’.
He is not sure how it got this way. He wasn’t ‘chunky’ or ‘XXXL’ 10 years ago. He doesn’t get out doing things like he used to, so he waits for Rha to get back. Maybe tomorrow when the weather is better. . .
Step out into a sport: Team Sydney Clubs via the website: www.teamsydney.org.au