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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

I asked Hello Kitty if she wanted to be my word today.

She was very excited about the idea. She likes to get into everything I do and has been known to usurp my laptop as well as my cookies.

“But Kitty,” I said. “You’re two words, don’t you think people might get uppity about that?

Hello Kitty did not care. She likes to be the center of attention, and reminded me that I make the rules, and anyway, she isn’t two words but one perfect being.

“But Kitty,” I said, “If I tell a story about you, I’m going to use lots of photos of you, and in most of them you’re ear-deep in a box of chocolates.”

Hello Kitty did not mind. She is quite enthusiastic about chocolate.

We debated it for a while, shared a bowl of popcorn (air popped, because she is getting a little fat with all the chocolate consumption), and ultimately decided to do it. We agreed that sometimes you have to break the rules and have some fun.

Did you know that Hello Kitty is not a cat? This came as a great surprise to me a few years ago when someone, I forget who, maybe my mother or maybe I told her, shared the news. I was apparently not on top of my Hello Kitty lore.

No, she is not a cat, but a girl. A British girl. Born in Japan.

Sometimes you can’t unlearn something.

Nevertheless, as she has also been decreed “a friend”, we have remained just that. If you can’t accept your friends for who they are, then what can you do?

I’ve had Hello Kitty things for most of my life. But it wasn’t until my not-too-distant-past adult life that I had actual Hello Kitty friends. It started somewhat randomly when my parents bought one for me and she quickly became rather infamous for eating all of the chocolate and cookies and muffins they sent, and drinking all the tea and wine.

I mean, you really could not put anything down in front of her without it disappearing. It hardly mattered whether it was a box of donuts

or a bowl of lentils

or the Valentine candy my father sent.

For a while I thought maybe Ralph was eating it, but now I know better.

Hello Kitty has arrived on my doorstep more than once along with a box of treats from my parents. They made it their mission to collect every conceivable version of Hello Kitty for me, which I fully support. Honestly, though, sometimes I’m amazed that the food gets here at all. I fully expect that one day I will get a delivery with Hello Kitty in a box of empty containers and bags.

While the vast majority of my Hello Kitties come from my parents, I now have one from my sister-in-law, and another one from Kevin, who is quite bacchanalian, no real surprise there.

Don’t get the wrong impression, though, she does more than eat and drink. It might not seem like it sometimes, because it’s all she talks about and everywhere you turn there is another picture of her face-down in a pie plate or something.

But she really does have quite a few other interests. She loves to travel with us. She’s been across the country, from New York to California, visited Washington, D.C., caused trouble in Boston, flown to Las Vegas, met friends in Georgia, and had some spectacular adventures. She’s a little high-maintenance, though. She only really likes nice hotels and always eats the Toblerone even though it’s like ten bucks from the room’s mini-bar and no matter how many times I tell her she can get them anywhere else for a fraction of the price, she always insists that the only place that a Toblerone is really delicious is from a hotel mini-bar. Sometimes she is a little weird like that.

I don’t remember the first trip she ever took with us because she used to hijack my luggage and bags and show up in the least likely places.

She’s been to quite a few hotels and more than one restaurant, though now that I think about it, she has never been to the Cork & Cow which seems like a travesty and a very good reason to go again soon.

This one time, after binge watching about four seasons of Doctor Who, she got very excited about traveling by TARDIS. Unfortunately, to this day, she has never been able to travel either backward or forward in time, even though sometimes she does wish she could rewind to BEFORE she ate the entire box of donuts.

She likes to do other stuff, too, like play piano, even though she isn’t very good and mostly just knows the first half of about a dozen Neil Diamond songs. Still, you can sing along if you want and she doesn’t mind. If she’s had enough wine she will even bang out Heart and Soul with you for a laugh, as long as you play the bottom part.

Over the years, Hello Kitty has accumulated quite a few friends, not all girls like herself. There has been the occasional bear, a ragdoll or two, one puppet, an undefined fuzzy thing that is nonetheless adorable, and Pusheen. Pusheen is a very happy, friendly cat, and also somewhat plump, so Hello Kitty was a bit cautious about meeting her. Hello Kitty was, in fact, worried that Pusheen might create some competition for the Christmas candy. So the first meeting was a little awkward, but things are like that sometimes until you get to know someone and then you don’t mind sharing your candy so much.

Most of the time.

I seem to have developed a bit of a reputation as a Hello Kitty nut, so my family and friends buy me anything and everything they find with Hello Kitty on it. Drinking glasses. Ice cube trays. Eye masks. Pencils. My adult collection far outstrips anything I had as a child, though I still have whatever survived in a box, too.

My friend Tammie, who is a whiz with a needle and makes really superb bags, once sent me a laptop bag made from Hello Kitty fabric. The only problem sometimes is that Hello Kitty gets very excited about these things and thinks they are all hers and maybe sometimes doesn’t share.

And then I remind her that I share ALL my chocolate with her and maybe next time she could quite possibly not eat the whole box at once and leave some for me.

She’s a good travel companion, especially as she can squeeze into tiny places and nobody notices you’re bringing her along until she pops up somewhere unexpected and then other people might say something like oh, you brought Hello Kitty? To which you just have to roll your eyes and not bother answering.

She is often helpful, though sometimes she does have to be reminded that when you’re done eating the muffin, the wrapper goes IN the garbage.

And since she loves to be the center of attention, she is always coming up with ways to get there. When my nephew was born, his parents did not want his photos posted anywhere on social media. In fact, they are still quite adamant about keeping his photos off the internet. This didn’t work out so well for the rest of us, who wanted to regale our friends with massive quantities of adorbs baby pictures. We thought we were thwarted until Hello Kitty came up with an excellent idea, and played stand-in. Everyone was happy.

She’ll photobomb anything.

Eat anything.

Drink everything.

Show up everywhere.

Do some incredibly strange things and make you wonder if you understand this Kitty at all.

But the best part about having Hello Kitty as a friend is that she reminds me not to take myself too seriously. She can be a bit of a nag sometimes, like when I have a lot of work to do and she is constantly asking if it’s time to play yet. Sometimes I really have to set her firmly aside and say no, and sometimes I get so absorbed in working that I forget she is there, which makes her very sad. And me too. And then my parents’ texts get very boring because I stop sending them pictures of her antics, which amuses them very much. But she is persistent, and she eventually shows up again and wants to play, and then I know it’s time.

Also, because sometimes if I ignore her long enough, she gets up to her own devices and starts wrecking havoc.

Or else she just starts eating everything in sight again.

And if she’s really a bad girl then I march her right to the nearest gym equipment so she can repent. It’s wild how much we have in common sometimes.

When I was a kid, I had a lot of friends. Mostly teddy bears, but also a duck, a dog, a cat, a raccoon and a few others.

The raccoon’s name was Raccoon. The duck’s name was Duck. The dog’s name was Pup, I guess he looked young. And the cat’s name was…

wait for it…


She was pink.

Every night before bed I would line them up in three rows of three right next to my pillow, always in a specific order.

Some of the bigger ones, like Pup, went on the side against the wall.

Bedtime did not happen otherwise.

After I got married, I used a giant teddy bear as a pillow for a long time. I’m sometimes convinced that if a marriage can survive teddy bears in bed and Hello Kitty pajamas then it can survive anything at all.

These are the things you tell your therapist.

Anyway, the point is that I have a long and storied history with fuzzy, cuddly things, all of which had personalities and went on myriad adventures.

All of those friends are in boxes today, even a few unfortunate Hello Kitties, waiting for me to have the space for them to come out and play. I bet they’d have some great fun together, although I may never get another bite of muffin again.

Photo: Hello Kitty photobombing the Brigantine house. And this page.