I'm writing regarding the librarian in her 60s who talks to her Paddington bear (10/3/08). I'm 55 years old, female and was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, about 12 years ago. Most of my personalities (or alters, as they're more commonly known) are children. So I have a large collection of stuffed animals (about 100). My three favorites are two Ugly Dolls named Ox and Tray and a blue-footed booby bird. I have on occasion talked to some of them and taken pictures of some of them. I just like having them around. I also very much enjoy watching cartoons and reading children's books. So when I read your column, I thought maybe this woman has dissociative identity disorder, especially because her voice changed from a little girl's voice to a little boy's voice.
All of Me
As I've aged into my later 50s, I've come to cherish the parts of me that remain a child, that delight in discovering new things, that risk violating some adult norms. Perhaps Goldilocks, whose sixtysomething houseguest brought along a Paddington bear and treated it like a playmate of hers, isn't old enough yet to appreciate this part of adulthood. By playing along with her guest, she became a playmate as well, since she appeared privy to and accepting of the game. And maybe that disturbed her.
But "a severe case of arrested development"? That seems harsh. If Goldilocks isn't a psychiatrist, she should back off. She acknowledged that the woman was "very accomplished" and was clearly able to "have a normal, adult conversation." That the guest might be a lesbian is merely a matter of speculation. And to link such a guess with observed behaviors says more about Goldilocks than it does about her guest.
I've never heard of a lesbian penchant for stuffed animals.
First, I want you to know that I'm trying to figure out if Goldilocks has been in my house! I've noticed no disturbances: The beds are in order, there's no porridge missing, and our bear seems unperturbed.
I don't think lesbians are the only people who travel with what some may deem "strange bedfellows." Paddington probably makes an ideal traveling companion. My guess is that he doesn't insist on eating at expensive restaurants, doesn't need to go to the bathroom at inopportune times and never throws up in the car. I imagine he's happy with the music selected for each leg of the journey, packs light and doesn't snore. He sounds like he's an amicable conversationalist and even-tempered. And he probably doesn't argue over map directions or mind unplanned side trips. Now, if only he would take over some of the driving.
Many people document their travels with photos. This could be another plus to having the same "friend" ready and available for every trip. Just last week I walked past a man taking a picture of his rubber ducky perched atop a very famous cow, in broad daylight and along a busy thoroughfare. Is he crazy? No way! This is actually a very creative and recognized artistic genre.
In closing, as a lesbian with a library connection, a daughter in her 30s and a BEAR, I find the female visitor to be of sound mind and good heart. It's too bad we missed her visit!
All of Me, Stuff It and Mama Bear: I regret to say that my imaginary friend couldn't be here today. His psychiatrist told him I'm the imaginary one and to stop hanging out with me. Fine, whatever. But if he were here, I'm sure he'd join me in saying there's nothing wrong with dreaming up a companion for yourself as long as you recognize that you have done so. It's like talking to yourself - no problem until you start answering.
If you were a true friend, or even an imaginary one, you'd write to: Mr. Right, Isthmus, 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703. Or call 251-1206, ext. 152. or email email@example.com.