Polar bears and fish sticks

My favourite animal also happens to be my nickname: polar bear.

I’m okay with that. Who doesn’t love a polar bear?

These majestic animals are giant, care-free creatures who are adept at sleeping, swimming and eating whatever they choose without fear of weight gain. We share these attributes, (I don’t fear weight gain, I selectively choose to ignore the threat).

I love the demeanor of these big white bears. They don’t need to be around others unless they choose to be, and if they need to, they can rid themselves of things that annoy them with their massive paws and strong jaws. Imagine if you could snap like twigs the people who annoy you. Awesome.

The Carpenter gave me the nickname, but not because I am adorable and cuddly like the polar bears you see in cartoons and books.

No, it’s because my body temperature at any given moment is like that of the frozen tundra and my hands and feet are often as cold as a polar bear’s paws are presumed to be after a long trek jumping from one frozen ice cube to another. I’m always cold. I’m sometimes surly. And I like to sleep. Yep, polar bear it is.

Much like my predator pal, I’m not big on cuddling. My side of the bed is my ice-flow, so to speak, and the left side belongs to the Carpenter. We don’t “spoon” and snuggle up under the blankets for a long winter’s night. It does not happen. I cannot stand the idea, frankly.

It’s not the concept of affection that bothers me, it’s simply that I like my space. I like knowing the Carpenter’s there (and with his nasal orchestra, I simply can’t ignore the fact he is), but I cannot sleep with his big arm draped around me.

There is one exception to the snuggle rule (okay, there are two, but I am not telling you about the second one). When I jump into bed with my frozen limbs, it is my sole purpose to absorb as much of the Carpenter’s body heat as possible. Depending on his mood (the second exception), my spouse will allow my polar bear hug to deprive him of his natural warmth. But sometimes the cold draft spoils the moment, like last week.

The Carpenter was settled in for the night, toasty warm. The heat radiated off him. I flew into the room at breakneck speed and slid under the duvet like a baseball player sliding into home plate. I was shivering.

The Carpenter kindly offered to snuggle with me until I got warm. Even a polar bear likes a hug. I nestled in. He winced.

“I am as cold as frozen fish sticks,” I said, teeth chattering an apology. With his hand placed carefully on my back – that soft spot that, shall we say, in a former life was much firmer – he made the fatal mistake of saying; “No, you’re more like a bag of frozen peas.”

Imagine the sound of a polar bear snapping its prey like a twig. Yeah, that was the sound in my head.

Polar bears are generally mellow creatures. I laughed. He laughed (because fear makes some people giddy), and in the end, I was warm.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry, but knowing you’re going to be, eventually.


Kelly Waterhouse