A stuffed bear in a car seat
Illustration by Hunter French
Life

"We Treat Our Stuffed Animal Like A Real Child. Is That Whackadoodle Stuff?"

Time for your weekly edition of Drew Magary's Funbag. Today, we're talking about toast, elevators, shirtless sports, cooking your own baby, and more.
March 3, 2020, 7:09pm

Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Your letters:

Justin:

A few years ago, I bought my then-girlfriend a stuffed polar bear. Since then we've named him, given him a voice, a personality, everything (likes: salmon, sleeping in, movies about bears; dislikes: the cold, barking dogs). We have a birthday for him. We have "conversations" with him and treat him like he's our son. Are we crazy people?

Only if I see you doing that shit in public. Otherwise … no. You're talking to a guy who brought stuffed animals with him to COLLEGE. I'm not in a position to judge you. Having a stuffed polar bear as a proxy child is more normal than, say, leaving your human wife to dry hump a stuffed unicorn, which one Nebraska man actually did do. In some ways, you and your lady are organically preparing yourselves to be ACTUAL parents one day. I mean, you're still not ready whatsoever, but at least you haven't accidentally dropped the bear in a paper shredder yet. That's a good sign. This is like remedial parenting class for you both. It's like high schoolers forced to carry an egg around for a week. You're both young, right? You're not, like, 70? If you were that old, you would be off a bit.

Also, the fact that you know it might be a little weird means you already have a built-in governor preventing you from taking things too far with Bundy Bear there. Like if you started pushing the toy around in a pram and buying an extra seat for him on flights? Yeah no, you'd both be fucked in the head. But if you like playing mommy and daddy at home to the little fucker, and you know to keep it at just that, that's cool. I'm not gonna buy you a shower gift for him or anything, but it's all right to have a Wilson to tend to.

All couples have their own weird cinematic universe. You have in jokes that only the both of you get. You have trinkets around the apartment that start to feel like living parts of your history together: a stuffed animal, a coffee table, a sex swing, etc. You do baby voices in bed and all that shit. I've been married for 98 years and my wife and I still indulge in all those habits. Like we say "congratumalations" instead of "congratulations," as a recurring gag. Why? I have no idea. You're your own culture as a duo, so you naturally develop your own rituals and vernacular. I think that's healthy. Then again, that might just be me trying to convince myself (successfully!) that saying "congratumalations" to loved ones is cool and hip.

For real though, keep your plush family in-house. Don't take that bear out for a steak dinner. And don't buy him 57 Beanie Boo "siblings." I've had Beanie Boo supplies in this house get out of hand. Unless you're a fan of slowly collecting mildew, I'd practice stuffed animal moderation.

Tysen:

I like to eat toast at work but I got tired of (and grossed out by) leaving my butter in the barely clean work fridge. Now I butter the bread at home, bring it to work and then toast it. Am I a maniac?

Are you doing it with a stuffed polar bear? No? Then I guess you're not crazy. But I don't think you're being efficient. First of all, you don't necessarily have to keep butter in the office fridge. You could leave half a stick in a butter crock in your desk! ADORABLE! I'm sure there's Bon Appetit editor out there who does exactly this and deserves to be clubbed to death for it. But my point stands. You can avoid the fridge, avoid office thieves, and have spreadable butter on you right when you need it. You'll forever be known as The Butter Guy at work, but joke's on everyone else. They have no butter. Plus this saves you the production of pre-buttering your toast before it's even toasted.

I have been cocky and tried toasting buttered bread, especially when the butter is still hard (snicker snicker) from being in the fridge. The butter melts and soaks into the bread before the bread has a chance to get crisp. Then it just leaks all over the goddamn place. And that's in a toaster oven. If you're trying this with a slot toaster (I'm assuming you aren't, but that might be a generous assumption on my part), you're gonna burn the office down. My advice to you is to eat toast for breakfast at home and then eat an officially sanctioned lunch product, like a Hot Pocket, at the office. PROBLEM SOLVED.

Brandt:

If you could have a free police escort everywhere you drove, would you do it? I'm talking no traffic, no waiting at lights, no having to honk at the person who cuts you off—straight to wherever you want to go like you're the president. Seems incredibly convenient, but I wonder if the inevitable nationwide disdain for "police escort guy" might outweigh the benefits.

It would. People only tolerate that shit for the Pope, college football coaches, and Stephen A. Smith. If it's just some sweetguy like me blowing through intersections like they're Lord of the Galaxy, people would talk. I live in Maryland. I have to share the road with 100,000 people who already all drive like they have a police escort alongside them. I want them all to burn. Therefore, I gotta live my values and sit in traffic like a common schmuck. The police have more important things to do anyway, like typing up angry union missives when video leaks of them shooting people to death.

Alex:

I'm watching Beerfest and I want to know what you think is the greatest fictional sports upset. Or you can rank them if you want.

There are no great fictional sports upsets. The sports movie formula is dependent on you walking into a screening of Glory Road knowing how it will end. They're not gonna pull a Tarantino on you and have Texas Western LOSE at the end of the goddamn movie. That isn't what you paid for. The only time upsets happen in sports movies is when the good guy loses. This happens in Rocky, which is now 500 years old. It happens in Tin Cup, which is the daddest dad movie that has ever dadded. It also happens in Million Dollar Baby, but that was an Oscar movie. It's only natural that a boxing movie written by the Crash guy would end with Hilary Swank getting curb stomped by her own corner stool and then left for dead in a hospital room with her legs chopped off. Really inspiring shit.

In most cases though, the final score is telegraphed on the poster before you walk into the theater. Or the movie is based on a real life game where you already know who won. This is why sports movies are a waste of fucking time. There's no point in watching a sports movie when you can just watch sports instead. There's a whole sports movie archive out there designed for bored sports fans to revisit and re-rank every time July comes around and there's nothing else for them to fucking do. In a reasonable world, we would NEVER talk about The Replacements again. But somehow there are a dozen Ringer podcasts dedicated to it. Sports movies stick around way longer than they deserve, especially when most of them have no surprises to offer you.

The end of Major League still gets me choked up, though. So there you have it. I'm fucking ancient.

Sam:

In light of the continued and recent spate of anti-vaxxer celebrities flapping their gums, let's ponder celebrity activism, writ large. If you could wave a wand and undo the effects of ALL celebrity activism, for good or for ill, would you? For example, that's JJ Watt's significant contribution to Hurricane Harvey relief AND Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaxx body count.

I wouldn't. If we're all dead of coronavirus in six months because of anti-vaxxers, I'd have a different answer. But for now, no. The only reason to turn my nose up at celebrity activism is to make myself feel better for not doing nearly enough charitable work myself. Oh they're all fakes, etc. We took the kids to a huge community service day here in town a couple weeks ago. We sat at tables in a massive convention hall, writing encouraging signs for sick kids in hospitals and stitching blankets for elderly people in hospice. This kind of work can be tedious, and at times it feels like you're doing busywork for the sake of doing busywork. But at least we spent a couple of hours feeling like we were actively trying to help people. Do we do this every week? Nope.

But plenty of famous people do. Even if they're only doing it because an agent said it would make for good PR, or because they get a modest tax deduction out of it, it doesn't matter. That kid in the hospital who's excited to see Gerard Butler? He really IS excited to see Gerard Butler. Gerard didn't just box up a care package in a distant facility and send it off along a chain to get to the kid. He actually went and saw him (NOTE: I'm just assuming here that Gerard Butler visits sick kids in hospitals). I don't wanna snap my fingers and erase that kinda shit. A lot of celebrity activism is useless and showy and, at times, outright fraudulent. That's what happens when you live in a country where you gotta rely on generous rich people to provide support and care to the masses instead of, you know, ACTUAL government services doing likewise. But I'll still wager that all the good JJ Watt and the gang have done outweighs the bad. Acting like it's the other way around is me justifying my own sloth when it comes to helping others.

For real though, FUCK Jenny McCarthy.

Eric:

How fast would an elevator need to drop between floors before a person's feet come off the floor? For this exercise, let's assume a human of average height and approximately 170 pounds.

I could ask a math person to calculate this for me, but I would be shirking my duties as a professional bullshitter if I did so. Instead, I looked up the drop speed for the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. If you've ever gone on this ride, you know that when it drops, your ass comes off the seat. Very scary. Turns out that it drops at 39mph, which seems fairly modest unless you're on the ride when it falls out from beneath you and you spray diarrhea all over your own feet. NOW … would you leave your feet in an elevator dropping at that exact same speed?

[about to speak with no knowledge of physics whatsoever]

Possibly. But you're standing in an elevator. All your weight is on your feet in that situation. When you're sitting on your ass, your weight is dispersed along a greater surface area, making it easier to get you floating in the air for a split second. So, to make sure you don't live, let's jack the elevator's speed up to 50mph when it falls. That way, you'll leave your feet, smash your head into the ceiling, break your neck, and die before the elevator has even hit the ground. NICE!

Carson:

Can we get a ranking of best shirtless sports? I guess volleyball is the clear winner, but there are some that I think might be sleeper picks. A nice summer day on the golf course shirtless sounds great.

Are we talking about how you look playing these games without a shirt, or how you feel? Because as looks go, I don't think anyone is gonna be awed by me whipping off my rash guard to play some volleyball. I know because I've done it. I've been the dad who burns the clock by dragging my kids over to the volleyball net at the beach and has them bat the ball around for six seconds before they start bitching that the sand is too hot. Women passing by stare, but not for the reasons you'd want them staring. It feels good to be out on the court, doing a budget dinner theater version of Top Gun. But I still look like a bag of white chocolate chips that melted down and got rolled around in some floor lint. I'm not young enough to keep up the illusion that I look impressive out there anymore. But sometimes the illusion kicks back in and I feel very masculine, indeed.

I've digressed. Lemme stop haggling over the rules and just rank the shirtless sports any way I please. I'm gonna leave swimming/surfing/diving off of here for obvious reasons. Also, you should have a beer in your hand for all of these. Can't be shirtless without a cold one.

  • Wiffle ball
  • Fishing
  • Any combat sport (boxing, MMA, pro wrestling, etc)
  • Running
  • Touch football
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball (beach)
  • Tennis
  • Cycling
  • Horse racing
  • Hunting
  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Racquetball
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball (at the Y)
  • Bobsled
  • Peloton class

You might think basketball is ranked too low on that list. As someone who played on the skins side way too many times as a middle schooler, I disagree.

HALFTIME!

Aaron:

Having run out of bath towels in my bachelor dump, I instead opted to use hand towels to dry myself off after showering. I'm telling you folks. Throw out your damn bath towels. It was like being a part of a NASCAR pit stop. I was dry in a fraction of the time, plus the extra control I felt from having one in each hand .... Fucking exhilarating. I see absolutely no downside to living like this now.

Aren't you cold, though? When I grab that towel off the rack, my first goal isn't to be dry. It's to be warm. The second I turn the shower off I feel like I just got air-dropped into Greenland. I require soft, fluffy coverage. I had to dry off with dish towels once as a bachelor, because I was undersupplied and overly drunk. But I am a very wet man, and those little towels lacked the absorbency I required to get the job done. And, again, I was fucking cold. I'd rather have a towel.

This isn't a race. There are three dependable ways to relax in this world: sleeping, shitting, and showering. I have no interest in rushing through any of those processes. If it takes me thirty extra seconds to dry off after my shower, that's more Shower Time and less washing dishes time. I win.

Have you ever thought about getting a chamois? Like the ones divers use? If you really want to treat your body like it's a Jaguar just coming out of the Charles Oakley car wash, you should invest in some of those bad boys. They'll dry you off in no time, AND you'll get to feel like Greg Louganis. I envied divers for their chamois more than their actual diving abilities.

Adam:

Fuck Marry Kill: The Voice, Big Bang Theory, The Bachelor/ette_. Worst three shows I can think of besides Steph Curry's putt putt thing_

All right so I'd marry The Big Bang Theory. There are worse fates. I've never watched a second of The Big Bang Theory but it seems harmless enough. I've been indirectly exposed to The Thundermans so many times this year that watching an actual, professionally-made network sitcom would be a HUGE* step up for me. Also, my in-laws say it's the funniest show on TV. Who am I to argue with them? You wanna know why this show has earned $78 trillion during its run, and why Friends will never fucking die? Because they're easy shows. You don't have to watch them in order. You don't have to rank them by seasons, although I'm sure people do. So much high-end TV now feels like an obligation. You're exhausting all your time and energy just trying to keep up with the culture. So it's easier to opt out and watch a show that asks far, far less of you. This is why Aerial America remains the greatest show in television history.

As for the other two … They're both aggressively shitty, but if I had to fling-binge one of them, I guess I would join the bizarre sportswriter cult that obsesses over The Bachelor and watch it for 10 minutes before running away. Then I would kill The Voice. Please God, no more. I've watched The Voice and it's somehow faker than The Bachelor. America is out of singers. We've used every last one of them. What you get on The Voice now is a parade of session players and semipro vocalists who have been through the casting mill on every other primetime gong show five times over. Even worse, I have to get to KNOW these puds, enduring Olympics-style profiles of them, along with rehearsal footage where some varnished cracker like Blake Shelton pretends to think they have a future. It's unbearable. There's so much phony enthusiasm that it makes me want to kill the sun. At least with The Bachelor, I don't have to pretend anyone on camera is a good person.

*Oddly, I think Henry Danger has grown into a reliably good sitcom. And the new All That might have better writers than the current iteration of SNL.

Anon:

I'm almost 30 and currently working an office desk job that I hate and is incredibly boring, but I make good money ($80k/year). My bosses give me Exceeds Expectations on performance reviews even though some days I'm only at the office for six hours before bailing out early (they must not notice or must not care). Even at work, I don't work that hard. I read PDF books and Reddit for large portions of the day, and I even watched a few episodes of Barry in a meeting room last week. How do I balance having this well-paying job without much oversight or responsibility with wanting to do something that actually gives me some fucking purpose in life? This surely matters somewhat, but I'm very happy in my personal life, so I do have something to look forward to everyday. Do I just ride out this easy-going job for as long as I can until I actually figure out what I want to do in life? Or should I force myself to find something new ASAP to ensure I'm not locked in here forever?

You should find something new. Take it from me. Your job isn't yours to control. One day your cool boss might get replaced, or your company might get bought by some hedge fund that then sends a flock of Mayor Petes to the office to identify and eliminate "redundancies." As it stands now, you're basically hoping nothing about your job changes when, in my experience, it can change drastically at any moment, no matter how well you've done or how well-liked you are. That's not me alluding solely to my end at Deadspin. I've been laid off from desk jobs in advertising despite occasionally executing my duties capably in those jobs, with hours to spare for dicking around. One of the great lies of the American Dream is that you'll succeed if you work your ass off and do things right. MAYBE you will, or maybe a holding company will fuck you over anyway.

So, to that end, I would take action. Don't be The Butter Guy and sit around at PackCorp all year, wait for the hammer to fall before you go searching for a plan B. Lay the groundwork for that plan right now, while you're still earning a nice paycheck and getting your HBO fix. When I was in my 20s, I always felt like the dream job would be to get paid to slack off as much as possible. And sometimes you can find those little niches for a bit and hide there. But eventually, you're gonna have to start really doing things. You're gonna WANT to. It feels good to be genuinely useful.

You already said you hate your job. If you're not, ugh, proactive, you might get laid off and end up pining for that shit job because you squandered a chance to look for a BETTER job when you had the money, the time, and the professional reputation to get one. Then it's day after day of scrolling through the same 30 fake job listings on Indeed. Don't let that happen, amigo. Get your name out there and become President of Beaver Creek while you can.

Christopher:

On the heels of watching the Stanley Cup and smoking weed, it got me thinking about a potential scenario. Let's say I was a good high school hockey player. However I was given magical powers where the space immediately below my feet are hardwood floors, not ice. The rest of the rink is ice and only the spot directly below me turns to hardwood while I am there and goes back to ice after I move. I can still run as fast as players can skate. This would allow me to cut and turn on a dime whereas the other players' movements are restricted by being on ice. Would this mobility allow me to make it as an NHL player?

But virtually no one can run as fast as NHL players can skate. NHL players can skate at speeds of 20mph and above. That's as fast as Tyreek Hill running untouched down a football field. I would say if you magically WERE that fast, then you'd be such a good athlete that it would behoove you to not use your magical powers and lace up real skates instead.

Then again, there's a reason that Tyreek Hill doesn't play for the Calgary Flames. He can't play hockey well enough. You, with your magic broomball shoes, would be similarly useless. Yeah, you could run around out there without slipping, but you'd still get hip checked into the boards. You'd still have to keep the puck away from defensemen and other assorted hired goons. You'd have to anticipate passing lanes and have an intuitive feel for spacing on the ice. You wouldn't have any of those skills, which are pretty necessary as hockey goes. Shit, put you on rocket skates and it wouldn't matter. You'd just end up flying over the wall and into the penalty box anyway.

But I DO appreciate the question. That's a quality weed question.

Zachary:

Whose hand would you be most pleased to publicly refuse to shake? As in, among other people that person extends his or her hand to shake yours and you conspicuously refuse to reciprocate. Trump is the easy answer, but I think Mitch McConnell might be top of my list.

I fucking hate both those men, but stiffing them on a handshake wouldn't help much. They'd still be evil pigs after the fact, and it's not like they would be chastened by my rebuff. These people are sociopaths. They don't care if you scream at them or do a George Conway HOW DARE YOU SIR kind of move on them. My dog would process that kind of interaction more emotionally than either of those men. Same with Roger Goodell, who I've DREAMED of being rude to on many occasions. If I'm gonna refuse to shake someone's hand, it's gotta matter. It has to HURT. And that's why my choice would be Meghan McCain. The fucking idiot.

Email of the week!

P:

I recently became a new father. A baby boy. He's tall and skinny, but he's healthy. I love him. He's great. I'm a chef (I hate this term, but it's what people call what I do) but I don't think you need to be one to have a constant and pervading question when you're holding your child: How would I cook this little nugget? My first inclination is roasting him slow as a whole piece of meat. Simple seasoning I think would be key. My first thought was a kind of clam bake with corn, potatoes, and lobsters. My wife suggested a lau lau style wrapping him up in taro leaves or in banana leaves. But I also think that maybe taking advantage of his tenderness would also make sense. Quickly seared cutlets or even some sashimi. Thoughts?

I think spit-roasting would be the move. Like a suckling pig. That way you get a nice crackle on the skin. Now that's good baby!