In December 2001, a friend was visiting me in Los Angeles from Washington State. I showed him the usual sights, taking him to lunch at the Newsroom, a popular eatery then in Beverly Hills. It sat across a small courtyard from what was then one of the most wonderful children’s book stores of all time, Storyopolis. We went into Storyopolis after we ate. My friend could hardly believe he was seeing original artwork on the walls by Tim Burton and Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel. It was a marvelous place.
There amongst the books and toys I found a delightful children’s backpack from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, which had been my favorite book as a child. It hadn’t just been my favorite book, though. It had been my favorite thing. My mother checked it out of the library several times before finally buying me my own copy, which I dragged everywhere.
So, when I saw this little guy, I fell hopelessly in love with him. I turned to my friend and announced, “This is my forever purse.”
And he still is.
It’s been a mad ride with him, riding quasi-shotgun with me. I have so many anecdotes about what it’s been like carrying him. For the most part, people love him. Everywhere I go, people compliment him, asking me where I got him. Occasionally I get the flirty comment, “I like your Wild Thing.” To which I reply, “Honey, they all like my Wild Thing.”
Trog didn’t have a name in the book, but he was modeled after Sendak’s Uncle Moishe. I named him Trog because my friend Abbie Bernstein pointed out that the song “Wild Thing” was written by the band, The Trogs.
The thing is, I wore out the first Trog pretty quickly. So, I bought several more. For the better part of the last 15 years, I’ve used the same two, swapping them back and forth, laundering them, stitching their little butts, and replacing the zippers. But I have several more if need be.
He’s been overseas. While I was living in France, I had the pleasure of explaining in French what exactly he was and where he came from because he’s not part of their culture. The security guard at the Louvre asked me if he was my “doudou,” which means a stuffed animal that children carry. I explained he was “mon sac,” which means my purse. Her eyes widened as I unzipped him and she smiled. Most Parisians were won over once they realized what he was.
He loves writers. The highlight of his career was when Clive Barker “honked” his nose. But when Maurice Sendak died, I tied a black ribbon to Trog’s arm for a month.
I’ve always liked posing him on the graves of famous authors.
Trog loves the great outdoors, especially the magical standing stones of Brittany.
He really didn’t think much of the Picasso Museum in the South of France. Not his thing.
While most people like Trog, he makes friends with cats quite easily. When I returned from living in France, I stayed with friends who had a cat named Miru. The two quickly fell in love.
It’s sort of a thing, actually.
France isn’t the only country Trog has been to. He’s visited Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Canada.
He’s been all over the United States. He’s even been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (kind of its own country). The security guard broke his zipper the first time I entered the park, so Trog had to stay in my room for the rest of my stay at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. When the housekeeper found him lying on the bed, she did this.
Since I was on a work trip for Disney at the time and didn’t have to pay for the room, I was able to give her a ginormous tip for making me so happy.
I do think Trog tries to find his own kind. While he certainly fit in at the Guillermo del Toro exhibit when it was here in Los Angeles, he really grooved on Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Sometimes I think he’s just looking for his Dad.
As you can imagine, Trog is a wild thing and therefore a heathen. However, he keeps an open mind. He attended his first bat mitzvah earlier this year and really got into the spirit of it.
But Trog’s favorite place to hang other than on my shoulder is the library.
In October, people ask if this is my Halloween purse. I tell them, “This is my ALWAYS purse.”
So now you know.