I don’t remember how old I was when I got Woody for Christmas. Maybe I was seven. Or Eight. God…Toy Story came out in November of ’95, so I was probably only five or six when I saw the popular cowboy doll in a Toys-R-Us. I cried, inconsolably, when my mother told me I couldn’t have it. It’s the first tantrum I remember throwing over a toy.*
Just a couple months later, Woody was my Christmas gift. And while the details of that Christmas have now completely run together, the joyful feeling of seeing the cowboy under the wrapping paper is so defined.
Much like the movie that had inspired it all, I brought my new friend with me everywhere. He sat next to me when I practiced piano, poked me in bed with his pointy nose or boots, came to family holiday parties, and all of my childhood sleepovers. Woody was my partner in crime, my original cowboy love. I listened to his pull-string phrases so many times that over twenty years later I can still recite them. I rubbed his head against my cheek so often the paint wore through to the plastic below. You can still see the brown sharpie marks where I tried to ‘fix’ his paint job.
As only kids can do, I found my best friend in an object of my own imagination.
I should probably be embarrassed about this, but Woody even came to college with me (and only half ironically). Then, when I graduated four years later and found a job at a software company, he joined me in my office.**
And three years after that, when I left my job for new adventures, Woody joined me on my drive through the East Coast. For nearly three weeks he was buckled tight in the passenger seat, his smile never faltering.
Cowboy OG, I’ll never let you go.
*I’m sure my mom knows of earlier tantrums, but this is my story, after all. 🙂
**This isn’t that weird, I swear. The company themes each of its office buildings, and I just so happened to be in the “Wild, Wild West” building. Of course Cowboy OG had to join.