Keep On Scratchin’

My older daughter’s best friend had her birthday party this past weekend at a local Build-a-Bear workshop. For those of you without an interest in stuffed animals, this is a store where you can Build a Bear (or other plush animal). For a set fee you choose from an array of creatures (not just bears) , which are then made for you before your very eyes. They go through a process of steps, from stuffing to sewing, to inserting a felt heart, and voila! it’s done and ready to be loved.

So when my daughter returned Sunday night she brought with her an oversized handled box. Inside I found what I thought was a beaver in a wedding dress, but it turned out to be a groundhog in a wedding dress. I said Oh that’s so cute – you must have picked him because he looked the most like Hammie (her beloved deceased hamster). You see, ever since Hammie died, my daughter has carried a stuffed hamster ( a Ty beanie babies Pellet) around with her religiously. He looks like this:

but our Pellet is really reeeally dirty. She keeps him tied to a long piece of green string, which she uses as a leash to drag him everywhere. I used to think it was so she wouldn’t lose him, but I don’t think so anymore. He gets left behind a lot. We lost him on Saturday at IKEA, where we’d gone to buy a second office chair b/c our crazy bird has chewed up the other one, but luckily when we wound our way through the maze of furniture and people, we found him again, tucked safely beneath the rollers of one of the chairs.

So when I saw the woodchuck I naturally thought she’d chosen him b/c of his mild resemblance to her most beloved pet, but instead she said, “No, Mommy – it’s a groundhog, you know, like ‘Keep Scratchin’.”


As most of you are probably not from here, let me explain. The Pennsylvania Lottery has taken it upon itself to select a cute furry mascot for their scratch & win ( BUT mostly lose) cards. His name is Gus the Groundhog, and I believe he may be some distant relation of Punxsutawney Phil. This is what he looks like:

He is indeed very cute. And his motto is as you probably guessed, Keep On Scratchin’. And he does look EXACTLY like the Build-a-Bear groundhog, except that ours is wearing a wedding dress. Gus, the lotto mascot, stars in a series of TV commercials in which he’s spinning records like a DJ, and then uncovering the silver squares on the scratch cards, and happily jamming out. You can imagine this has wide appeal. A cute groundhog winning money! And so the simple of mind are inevitably lured in. Unfortunately many of those simpletons are KIDS> and as the PA lottery is strictly for ages 18 and up I fail to see what this is accomplishing – other than luring children into pestering their parents into buying lotto cards, or brainwashing them into becoming gamblers when they come of age.

Not surprisingly, my children have asked me to buy lotto cards before. What the HELL, you are probably thinking. And yes, I agree wholeheartedly. But someone decided it was a wise decision to put a scratch & win (But mostly lose) vending machine at BJs (the same store of x-rated animal cracker fame) right beside the speedy “8 items and under” check-out line. So each time I breeze into BJs to pick up milk or eggs or maxipads, I have to be bombarded with begging – and not for candy or an ICEE but for a lotto card. I have explained to my children that those things are for suckers (no offense to any of you suckers out there), but to no avail. The begging continues.

And so here we are – my brilliant almost 8 year old has fallen prey to some clever marketing SOB from the PA lottery. And so this morning, as I gear up to once again tackle house cleaning, I cannot stop thinking of the lawsuit against Camel cigarettes for their Joe Camel Campaign of Child Promotion. Any pro bono lawyers out there looking for fun?