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Bernard's a soft black teddy bear that sits in the passenger seat or on the dashboard of my car. I bought him.

"What the fuck are you doing with a bear in your car," my roommate says with disgust. "You're twenty-one. What the fuck are you thinking?"

"His name," I say with indignance, "is Bernard."

Bernard is from the Bear Factory. He was a flat, lifeless coat of black, fuzzy fur when I first saw him that Valentine's Day, but after I chose to buy him, he was filled with the cottony material that makes stuffed animals huggable and squeezable, and a purple plastic heart with "I LOVE YOU" engraved in it was placed inside him. His chest was velcroed closed. I carried him out of the store in a paper bag.

"My friend," I told him, "you're going to make a certain girl very happy today."

Since this is a capitalistic society, every store in the mall had some kind of Valentine's display up. Barnes and Noble had a Valentine's Day-themed collection of printed comics, like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes, I don't remember. Victoria's Secret was selling special lingerie. You know what I'm talking about.

Well I got suckered into it. Made the biggest mistake of my life: there was some novelty store with this gigantic, brown, gaudy motherfucker in the window. Could have sworn it was love at first sight. I looked down at little Bernard, looked him in his crooked little eyes, and I looked at the big brown bear in the window. A few minutes later I was walking out of the store with another paper bag with teddy bear ears peeking conspicuously over the top. Bernard was tossed into the trunk of my car. Rosco the brown bear rode shotgun with me.

Rosco made it to his new owner. I got my "awwww you're so sweet" and my little hug. Bernard was forgotten.

I got what I deserved. Things with the girl eventually didn't work out. We don't speak to each other anymore.

You know how guys can get after things like this. I moped around a little, started cooking for myself and eating alone, hit the gym more, just kept myself busy, tried to get lost in day-to-day life. I was more productive and probably had a healthier lifestyle, physically, than I ever had before since I left home, but I was a fuckin mess. Writing bad poetry, blogging angry things, luckily I hadn't found this place yet so you guys missed the worst of it.

It wasn't until I was gathering my dirty laundry and hamper one day that I found Bernard again. He was sitting, discarded, in a corner of my closet; the bear without a home.

I picked him up and told him, "Dude, I'm sorry, I'm a fuckin asshole. We're in the same boat now; we've got to stick together. It's just you and me."

He didn't say anything.

Since then we've gone on a few long drives together. He's a reminder to me; love can make you an ugly person. Sometimes, when I am driving for friends, they will give him some companionship, affectionately making fun of his off-set eyes, but they never take him. He still hasn't spoken to me, but I'm not sure if I would let them have him anyway.

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