Robin and his gal-pal Angela were gracious enough to invite me to their Oak Cliff homestead for dinner in April. After getting tangled-up in a malestrom of interstate confusion, misdirected road-rage, and arriving an hour and a half late, I was treated to a fine meal and a tour of the house.
Robin is an avid art, photography, and design patron. His place is tastefully stocked with fabulous period design pieces, topped off with an elegant sound system. Like me, Robin is a mainstream jazz fan. He lives artfully.
Anway, rather unexpectedly, what riveted my attention that night was not the collection of fine objects d'art -- it was the irresistible charm of Chuggy. He was peering down from an armoire, standing watch over the king-size bed below.
"Who's that?," I exclaimed, feeling a undenialable kinship and magical connection with the little fellow.
"That's Chuggy, the Keeper of Sleep and Drinks. I've carried him with me ever since I was a small child -- even during my overseas stint in the Army," Robin answered. "He's traveled with me everywhere, and he makes sure I enjoy good sleep."
Ah, such sweet slumber, I knew it was true. With my recent disastrous trauma from chronic insomnia, I could dig a helpful Sleep Keeper like Chuggy.
Chuggy, who was named after the popular Roger Miller song "Chug-a-lug," started out as a Santa Claus doll, until Robin's mother transformed and clothed with exotic fashions on four or five different occasions.
As a long-time fan of John Stanley's stories in Marge's Little Lulu and Tubby comics, I seized upon a familial relationship based loosely around the relatonship Tubby Thompkins and his doppleganger cousin," Chubby. Chubby is the pint-sized "mini-me" look-alike of Tubby. Since Robin already had Chuggy, which sounded more than a bit like Chubby, I would conversely pay tribute to Tubby's moniker with Tuggy for a Sleep Keeper of my own.
|Tubby Thompkins and his cousin, Chubby. These two amuse me to no end,|
So, to eBay. The closest "relative" to Chuggy I could find was a Gingerbread Man, described as an African-American-made vintage doll.
I committed to the $12.50 Buy It Now price, and a few days later Tuggy arrived. His round eyes were blank white circles which made him look a little too much like Saturday Night Live's "Sluggo" from the Mr. Bill segment for comfort, so I drew in some eyelids and a smile using a red Sharpie pen -- an attempt to make him look friendlier and dreamy.
I added an accent of soporific healing bling to Tuggy's garb by accesorizing his look with a cosmic Calvin Begay-crafted Navajo Bear Pendant around his neck.
Tuggy is small enough to ride around in a men's dress shirt pocket.
Older, uptight, white people at the coffee shop have cringed and carped that Tuggy somehow presents an unflattering rascist caricature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tuggy is simply a magical Gingerbread Man, made with molasses (from the Latin root for "honey") and love.
He's a soulful Keeper of the Sleep and the cousin of Chuggy.
|Chuggy with Tuggy at Robin's house on Father's Day 2013.|