It is hard to imagine the brainstorming session at Fisher-Price that gave birth to Bacos and his compatriots, a line of infant “grabber” toys shaped like animal heads. Just the heads. Odd indeed. A lamb, a bear and a pig were available in 1980, and of all the adorable, cuddly bunnies, unicorns and teddies lining Tucker’s crib, it was the pink terry cloth pig’s head with ears of softest satin that became my son’s favorite. One may discern my husband Dave’s perverse humor in dubbing the toy “Bacos” after McCormack’s Bacon Bits.
Dave and I treasured Bacos almost as much as Tucker did, for the calm that he brought and for the forever-image of my little boy sucking his thumb while holding Bacos close to his body, index finger stroking those satiny pink ears. Car rides were peaceful and overnight visits to friends or relatives went without a hitch as long as Bacos was with us, bearing all the security of home.
The downside to this relationship was that his presence became a MUST. Roughly the size of my hand, Bacos was easy to overlook, and many hours of my late twenties were spent in search of the pig’s head. I think that sometimes Tucker hid him deliberately. What power for a three-year-old to so thoroughly control his parents, sending them on a wild goose chase, knowing full well that the goose, in this case, the pig, was in the copper pitcher next to the fireplace in the kitchen.
Bacos’ most memorable adventure followed a shopping excursion to purchase a couch for our new house in Clinton. After giving every sofa the comfy-butt test, we made our selection and headed back to our apartment in Greenwich, an hour and fifteen minutes away. Why we didn’t miss Bacos sooner escapes me, but we were home before the wailing began.
Resourceful young mother that I was (and greatly indebted to the Fisher-Price Company for mass production), we had two Back-Up Bacos. They staved off total panic, but there was no mistaking them for the real thing. Firm and portly, freshly pink, they had not been snuggled and loved, imbued with Tucker’s own taste and baby scent.
When the Most Beloved did not turn up despite an exhaustive hunt, a call to the furniture store reaped a casual, “Why yes, we did find the...uh...pig’s head. We just threw it in the dumpster.”
“OMIGOD! PLEASE, GET HIM OUT OF THERE!”
A week later, boy and pig were reunited. Oh happy day.
The years of blissful companionship ended when some mean kid at nursery school teased Tucker about being a baby. At the age of five, he decided to put away “baby things.” He stopped sucking his thumb (all at once, just like that) and tossed Bacos into a wastebasket, then turned and walked away. Wait Tuck! It’s your Bacos! Don’t leave him behind!
Of course Bacos did not remain in the trash. I’ve saved him as well as his back-ups. They are precious to me. Tucker went cold turkey that day. He never sucked his thumb or asked for Bacos again. There were some hard, tight days when he clearly could have used a thumb and a satiny ear, but he never gave in.
Every now and then while cleaning drawers, I come across that old love-squished pig and the memory flash of little Tucker is instantaneous - they had been one! The baby is gone, but I can hold Bacos close, my nose buried in those satin ears. I inhale deeply in hopes that he still holds the scent of my little boy, but too many years have passed. I replace him wistfully in the drawer. At least I know where to find him.