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Sheila Dipstick

Her name was Sheila Dipstick, and I loved her. She was a white poodle stuffed animal that I had for years. I don’t know where the name Sheila came from other than it sounded like a good name at the time. I do remember how her middle name came about though.

I was watching the Dukes of Hazard, and it was either Boss Hogg or Roscoe P. Coltrane that called the dog Dipstick. I now know as an adult that it was a derogatory remark to Flash (the actual name of the dog), but, at the time, I didn’t know any better and felt the word “dipstick” resonated in my ears as beautifully as a butterfly flitting about on a breezy summer day.

Strange how no one at the time agreed with me.

Growing up, my family moved from state to state on a fairly regular basis. On one occurrence, because of a certain emergency situation, we had to get out of town in the middle of the night, leaving many of our precious belongings behind. My mother still laments the Christmas ornaments that were abandoned at the rental house. I was allowed to take a suitcase of clothing and one stuffed animal. It was an easy choice to take along Sheila Dipstick.

I’ve heard the popular question, “If you could only take one item of significance with you, what would it be?” Usually this question is in conjunction with being stranded on a deserted island. A friend once answered with the Bee Gees, contending that they counted because they were one band. Another friend said a donkey with Vito Corleone hidden in the saddlebags. Being a practical grown up, I usually answer with socks, assuming that there are no sheep to sheer for yarn so I can knit socks of my own. That is, if I was ever patient enough to learn how to knit. I think I would miss socks.

As a child, the answer was a stuffed animal. I needed that white fluff.

As an adult, knowing that I am not to go without the creature comfort of socks, what would my answer be? What can I not live without? I understand that I don’t need much, but I want a vast amount.

I can’t part with my giant bookcase that is a pain to move—and I move it an average of once a year. I just love it too much. I need my circa early 80s mixing bowls that I found at a thrift shop still in the original box. I am currently collecting the complete works of C.S. Lewis, so I can’t possibly get rid of any of those books. There is the clock my mother made as a graduation gift and the painting a friend did for me. Then, there are the scrapbooks and photo albums, journals and half-written stories that I will get around to finishing some day.

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In the back of my head, I know that I don’t need any of this and will survive without any of it, but I want it, just like I want a new car and a laptop.

Really? Is all this necessary? Am I buying into the consumerist culture? Well, sure, I think the majority of us struggle with it even though I always considered myself above this vice—I now stand corrected.

I am not ready to burn my house down and start from scratch, but I think I can hold off on a new summer wardrobe for another year; the clothes I have are fine. As I take inventory of my life, I am confronted with my materialistic desires. Perhaps I should go back to being that innocent 8-year-old girl who was content with one thing.

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