Whatever X, Day I
To start things off, let’s go back to the first week of September, 1999, and the news that Ty Warner, maker of the Beanie Babies, made the announcement (later rescinded) that his company would stop making those little plush money pots.
SEPTEMBER 4, 1999: The Beanie Babies Are Retiring
Later, when war loomed on the European continent, many Americans clamored for our country to hide itself in a veil of neutrality. But not the Beanies. Historians remember that fateful day in 1940 when Britannia Bear marched in the Oval Office and outlined the Lend-Lease deal, which would ship 50 mothballed US destroyers to an England that so desperately needed them in those days of German aggression. And when war came, the Beanies more than did their part, rolling their fuzzy sleeves and working the swing shift on the aircraft assembly lines, churning out one Mustang P-51 after another so that we could win the war and bring peace and democracy to the world. Think of how hard it is for a four-inch high toy to wield a power tool — especially with nothing but a plush, fingerless paw to control the thing.
The Beanies contributed in other ways. While it has been kept hush-hush for more than half a century, it can now finally be confirmed that Beanies were integral to the Manhattan Project. Sparky the Dalmatian was on hand in 1942, when Enrico Fermi produced the first self-sustained nuclear reaction in the squash courts underneath the University of Chicago’s football stadium, and so integral was a certain Beanie duck to the construction of The Bomb that when Robert J. Oppenheimer first beheld the power of the weapon on July 16, 1945, as it blossomed like a fiery mushroom on the New Mexico desert floor , he was heard to remark, “I am become Quackers, destroyer of worlds.” Later the OSS, fearful of an assassination attempt on the selfless Beanie, convinced historians to change the quote to refer to Shiva, an Indian deity who was neither a Beanie, nor present at Los Alamos.
Pinchers the Lobster painted the initial broad strokes of what would later (and erroneously) be labeled “The Marshall Plan.” While the world hovered on the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was Scoop the Pelican, whose own Key West home was in the cross hairs, who counseled strength tempered with caution. Garcia the Ty-Dye Bear was at Woodstock, tending to Abbie Hoffman’s wounds after Pete Townsend beat him up onstage. The world held its breath as Wrinkles endured the 444 days of captivity as an Iranian hostage. And today, Wise the Owl acts as informal adviser to Alan Greenspan, helping our nation achieve the longest continuous economic expansion in our history.
Through every major world event in the last 60 years, the Beanies have been there, providing their calm, wee little voices, guiding our Republic through the rocky shoals of history with a selflessness that, frankly, we as a nation have come to take for granted. What have the Beanie babies ever asked of us? One thing: To be loved (well, and occasionally to be traded to another owner for a ridiculously high markup). Never have so few been so cuddly and so wise for so many.
Some say we can’t afford to lose their wisdom. But I say, look around you. Our nation is prosperous. Happy. At peace with its neighbors. The Beanies have worked hard so that we can survive their departure from public life and their return to the sewers and storm grates from whence they came, 70 years ago. They’ve earned their rest. I, for one, intend to let them have it. God bless the Beanie Babies. A grateful nation thanks them.