First there is the sunglass kiosk and then the sunglass kiosk II. Then there is ABC Toys. Then you begin to see a line. You wonder from where and to where. It is the Build-A-Bear line so you get on in, really scoop up onto it. You are behind a woman with two children who is behind a woman with two children who is behind a man with one child who is behind two young men who are giggling and holding hands who is behind you don’t know because you can’t see that far. You have no children, you are alone, you will build this bear alone. You sidle against the display window at ABC Toys, creeping. You creep. You fucking creep! Finally you get just inside and loud Disney music wafts into you, embalming your consciousness with its lyrics, somehow instructing you, as it goes, to have already learned every word at some other time, just for the purpose of being able to know it now. The way murderers say they were listening to this or that song, that the song made them do it—-in this case, the Disney song makes you do it, makes you be it. Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat. Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete. A scruffy pock-marked boy of maybe 20 stands at the front of the store ringing a giant bell. He is wearing a red apron with a red tutu sewn onto it. You look around and every single employee of the Build-A-Bear store—-and they are legion—-is wearing the same red apron/tutu combo. The boy with the bell is holding in his other hand a plush giraffe on a leash, and the giraffe is wearing roller skates and a tutu. Immigrants and teenagers walk by holding cups of Orange Julius and bags from Aeropostale and the bell-boy clangs at them, yelling at them that they know they want it, they know they want to build their bear-y own bear. First they look puzzled, and then amused, and then pensive, as though they are considering the validity of the accusation—-maybe they do want it, maybe this is exactly what they want—-and one or two actually do a kind of aw-shucks about-face and get in the line that grows ever and inexplicably longer. An employee comes at me with a clipboard. What would I give if I could live out of these waters? What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand? She asks if I’ve selected my bear. She tells me about the different bears at their different price points. She waves her hand along the wall of bears, some of which aren’t bears at all, but cats, puppies, dinosaurs, and ponies. I choose from the cheapest range of bears, a teddy bear that looks the most like a drawing of a teddy bear, which is how you know something is real. Smell or sound, the girl asks me. What, I don’t understand, I tell her. Do you want it to have a smell or make a sound? I shiver along with the music—-betcha on land, they’d understand, bet they don’t reprimand their daughters—-and then say no, neither, and then say, no, both. She hands me a plastic square to speak into. Record something for your bear to say. Oh no, I say. Oh no, oh no. She asks if that’s what I want or if I was just practicing and I say that’s what I want. I get a cardboard air freshener cutout shaped like a bear to stuff inside my bear and the scent is “eucalyptus” otherwise known as rancid lip gloss. This is terrible, I think. This is the most devastating bear on earth, which of course has been the goal all along, to build the most devastating bear on earth. The people behind me are impatient. It is important to note that they are not children. They know, unlike me, exactly how to build a bear, and that is why they are here. I am here precisely because I don’t know. There should be two lines, as there should be two lines for life. What’s a fire and why does it—-what’s the word—-burn? Soon—-not soon at all—-I am in front of a great whirring machine. Inside a riot of frothy stuffing spins, powered by, impossibly, a foot-pedal. A long nozzle pokes out of the machine. A girl seated by the nozzle jams it into my hollow bear and tells me to push down on the pedal. What earthly violence is this. It is too late for me to get out of line. I step on the pedal and my bear-sac starts to resemble a real fake bear. You’re doing it, the seated girl tells me. You’re building your bear all by yourself. I blink a little at the boldness of her lie but I jam my foot down on the pedal, harder, more sure of myself. The climax is happening all around me—-when’s it my turn? Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore up above? Out of the sea, wish I could be, part of that world—-and we finish all at the same time, Ariel and my bear and me. The girl tells me to take a satin red heart from the bin. She tells me to rub it on my ears for secrets and on my mouth for whispers and on my heart for luv and on my feet for giggles. I stand there holding the heart, waiting for the next song to come on. It’s hard to hide in the din following her instructions, the line behind me growing hostile. Do it, somebody yells, a man. Do it, do it, a few people start chanting. I have no choice. The line is in charge now. I rub the heart all over my face and body, and hand it to the girl who takes it with a look that says, I made you do that, and stuffs it into the stuffing along with the sound and the smell, and then sews the spine of the bear together with nothing more than an ordinary needle and thread, no gimmick or machine, as though suddenly we were on the prairie and she were darning my sock. I am now in the back of the store where amidst the many racks of teddy bear clothes are tables set up in front of mirrors, “dressing rooms” for my bear, because we have been sent out of Eden and the bear’s awareness of its own nakedness is a new problem for both of us. A non-Disney song has started playing. I pick out shorts and a t-shirt that says “Best Friends” and I carefully dress my bear, trying to ignore how good it feels to do this. Then I sit at one of the naming computers and fill out my bear’s birth certificate. The woman at the next computer has fallen asleep, the keyboard pushed aside to make room for the moat of McDonald’s wrappers surrounding the castle formed by her head in her elegantly curled arms. I name the bear my own name.