A Stuffed Itinerary

By Matt Benoit

It is likely that my generation could see some amazing things in the future: a cancer vaccine, flying cars, somebody other than Jay Leno actually hosting The Tonight Show—in other words, really big stuff.

But perhaps nothing is more exciting than the prospect of seeing stuffed animals fly to the moon for a vacation.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What kind of drugs are you on, Matt? Well, I’ll tell you. Really good ones. Mostly peyote, but I also dabble in a little LSD on the side. But that is not my point.

The reason I bring up stuffed animal vacations is because summer, for most people, is vacation time, and if you can’t afford a trip to Europe right now, then maybe your teddy bear can.

How is this possible? You can thank Finnish travel agency Lapland Tours (http://www.teddytourslapland.com/catalog/etusivu.php).

That’s right—not only does this company’s name really sound like a mobile strip club, but for just a couple hundred bucks, they will actually take your teddy bear on vacation around part of Finland.

When I first heard about this, I had but one question: Does your teddy need a passport?

I assume this program is for people who don’t have kids and wonder what it’s like to ship their children off to another country. If not, they may find it rather difficult to explain to their kids that—since they can’t afford to send them to Finland—they’re sending an inanimate object instead for a fraction of the price.

If you decide on doing this, your stuffed animal (you can either buy one from them or mail your own) will not only get to tour the Northern town of Rovaniemi, but will also get to visit with Santa Claus, who, unbeknownst to all of us, apparently lives in Finland when it’s not Christmas time.

Teddies also get to cross the Arctic Circle (for which they are given a certificate stating their accomplishment) and receive a gift, holiday photos, and the opportunity to send a postcard to their owners. One imagines the postcards probably say something to the effect of:

I’m here and you’re not, sucker! Hahahahahahaha!

Sincerely, Teddy

And that’s just the “standard” package. The “luxury” journey also includes a trip to a reindeer farm so the teddy bear can feed Santa’s reindeer, even though neither the bear nor reindeer have opposable thumbs.

The agency’s Web site also says—and I am quoting here—that this is followed by “a snowmobile safari. On safari, Teddy will try ice fishing on the frozen waterway and savour hot chocolate by the campfire.”

In the summer, this hot chocolate is replaced by a picnic lunch, illustrated by a picture on the Web site in which the bears hold skewered wieners on sticks but are sitting too far from the open flames to actually heat up the sausages (although considering how short the sticks are, the bears themselves would probably catch fire if they were placed close enough to the flames. But if this were to happen, Lapland would probably send the bears to the hospital and take photos of them for the owners, calling it the “burn unit” portion of the trip).

Personally, though, my experiences with teddy bears as a child never involved them drinking hot chocolate or having picnic lunches.

They always wanted me to buy them booze.

Perhaps the best part of this is that the bear’s entire journey is videotaped, meaning you’ll be able to watch all the fun you wished you had had instead of the dumb stuffed bear, who’s likely to lack a real appreciation for his experience abroad.

These packages are available in the winter and summer, so you can waste your money no matter what time of year it is. I asked my own teddy about the possibility of doing one of the summer trips, but he said he’d only be interested if visits to a Finnish nightclub and tattoo parlor were included.

And now, I’d like to take the time to answer some questions sent to me by my imaginary fanbase. Our first question comes from Jesse in Bellingham, who asks:

Q: Hey Matt, my in-laws are visiting and I’m supposed to take them out to dinner tomorrow night. Where do you suggest I take them?

A: To the airport.

Our next query comes from Betty Bamalamadingdong, who resides in Glacier. She writes:

Q: Matt, I’ve always wondered: do blondes really have more fun?

A: Well, Betty, in order to find out, I posed this question to our wonderfully blonde staff member, Kelly Sullivan, who proceeded to slap me in the face.

Which leads me to believe, of course, that the answer is yes.

In other news, the Environmental Protection Agency has just announced that, in order to avoid more panic along the Gulf Coast, it has begun referring to the giant oil sheens as “black vinaigrette spills.”

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