Tuesday 23 September 2008

The world according to Jarf

Hi there! The name's Jarf.
Actually, my full name is in fact 'Giraffe', but please go ahead and call me 'Jarf': that's what the Little Mistress calls me, and there's no need to stand on ceremony: we're all friends here. We've not been formally introduced before, so perhaps a little potted history is in order?
I'm kind of new around here: I've only been with the family for a couple of weeks. I was given to the youngest - Nevey, the Little Mistress - by her Godfather as a birthday gift. Nice present, eh? Even if I do say so myself. He's clearly a man of taste, with a keen eye for a stuffed toy.
Anyway, you know how it is with us stuffed animals: you're never quite sure what your role will be when you finally get assigned to an owner. Some of are destined to be hugged and carried everywhere as a child's favourite, but some us just sit on shelves gathering dust. Some are kept forever, but some are lost, or broken, and some (whisper it!) are 'accidentally' donated to the charity shop. It's a bit of a lottery, and you never know how it will turn out, but you've just got to make the best of the cards you've been dealt and get on with the job in hand.
It's very clear what my job is - the Little Mistress has been very specific. I'm her partner-in-crime, and my main role is to bug the s**t out of her father.

It's not the most demanding of jobs - the 'man' (ha!) of the family is notoriously grumpy and short-tempered anyway, so getting him all wound up is like shooting fish in a barrel. That's not to say the job is dull: there's a lot of variation in the day-to-day details (together, the Little Mistress and I can be quite inventive) but very broadly speaking, there are two ways I can fulfill my duties: I either have to be in places I shouldn't, or not be in places I should.
That might sound confusing, but it's dead simple. Let me give you some examples - firstly, of 'being in places I shouldn't':
Example 1 - The landing, just after midnight. This is a classic. If I wait, as directed, at the top of the stairs on a Friday night, then when the 'father of the house' comes blundering in after a night in the pub with his friends then it's cast-iron certainty that he'll fall right over me. I'm about 24 inches high in my bare hooves and very well stuffed, which means I'm exactly the right height and weight to guarantee a trip and headlong flight. It's particularly funny if he's been trying to make his way up the stairs without waking anyone, and so has been tiptoeing around in the dark using the light from the screen of his mobile phone to navigate by. It's even better if he's carrying a glass of water and pours it all over himself as a result. Comedy gold!
Example 2 - His bed, 6:45 a.m. This is much more 'up close and personal' work. At 6:45 a.m, his alarm will have gone off, but he will have hit 'Snooze' and gone back to dozing - and yet everybody else will be awake and getting on with the day. In those circumstances, nothing wakes a man up properly quite like the pressure of having a stuffed animal pushed persistently into his face - and I'm the hoofed mammal for the job. Again, it's all about humiliation: you can wake a man up with pretty much anything if you push it into his face hard enough (and Lord knows, the Little Mistress has tried) but nothing quite strips away his dignity like a cuddly toy - particularly if someone shouts "Wake up Daddy, and kiss Jarf!" while you do it, and then refuses to remove said toy until Daddy has puckered up and made smooching noises. As an additional twist, my snout is often coated with dried food from where the Little Mistress has attempted to feed me some of her own dinner, so during our morning 'kiss' I can occasionally leave a smear of stale pasta sauce on his face that won't get noticed until someone at his office points it out to him.
Example 3 - The dinner table, breakfast time. This was a notable one, because it was the first time he spoke to me and it became clear just how much I was getting to him, so I finally knew I was doing my job properly. And I didn't even have to do much - I just had to sit there! The Little Mistress did all the work, by screaming and refusing to eat unless I was given a seat at the head of the table. He then not only had to get up and let me sit there, but also had to fetch cushions to prop me up so I was high enough to see - and then she played the master stroke of pouring her Cheerios onto the table so the pair of us could share them. That's when he stopped, sighed expansively, looked directly at me and muttered under his breath: "I ****** hate you, Giraffe." What a wonderful moment, it fair warmed my heart....

Of course, the way to cause havoc through "not being where I should" is easy - I follow the classic, timeless method of disappearing at crucial moments. For example, whenever bedtime rolls around, I simply have to hide. The Little Mistress then has an excuse for refusing to lie down and go to sleep, because her best-beloved toy is not in plain sight. Under the sofa cushions, in the cupboard under the stairs, behind the curtains - all places I've successfully hidden and caused real bedtime mayhem. It's easy to cause real disruption if you take your job seriously, particularly if you have a good partner - one time, she pretended she wanted me in the room as close as possible, but not in the cot. He ended up positioning me at the side of the cot with my head peeking through the bars, and then every time he let go and made for the door, I would fall over and she would immediately shriek.
We kept it up for twenty minutes. When he finally did leave the room, we couldn't get to sleep for laughing at him. Priceless.

So there we go - I'm settling in nicely. Sometimes it already feels like I've been here forever, and I'm damn sure it feels that way to the 'master of the house' (Again: ha!). Of course, there's no malice in any of our pranks, and I'm sure he'll look back at it all and laugh.
And it's not like there's much he can do about it the meantime - what's he going to do, go online and complain to the world that he's being victimised by a two-year-old and her stuffed toy Giraffe? I don't think so...

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