July 21st @ Free Times Café

When I was a kid I had a teddy bear. It was a really cute teddy bear and I always had it with me when I went to sleep. In this, of course, I was not alone, many children have stuffed animals – some kids need a separate room for all of them. Of course it’s not just teddy bears, but lions, tigers, elephants, rats, monkeys – you name it. The thing about stuffed animals though is that they are always cuter than the real thing. With one exception – koala bears.

I am writing this missive from Australia, where, just a few days ago, I went to a koala sanctuary just outside of Brisbane and where I was able to see lots and lots of koalas in the flesh (or fur because that’s what covers their koala flesh). Koalas are so cute that as soon as you see one you just go “Awww.” And then you do that each time you see a koala so that around the koala pens there is a low hum of “Awwws” that make you think you are in some kind of blissed out meditation studio. And you know what, when koalas are asleep, and they sleep about 18 hours a day (really it’s true, you can look it up), they are even cuter than when they’re awake, because they just scrunch themselves up in a really cute little koala fur ball.

Koalas are so cute that you are not allowed to spend more than four hours looking at them at a time. Staff who work with the koalas have to go work with other animals after four hours so they are not reduced to a drooling, happified zombie state. And to break the koala spell, the employees are not allowed to go directly to the kangaroos and wallabies, who are also cute but on a much lesser level (your stuffed kangaroo is cuter than the real thing) but rather they are exiled to wombats and crocodiles because that’s what it takes to get you ready to go out into the cold real world again.

Hanging out with koalas makes you believe in all the goodness in the world. It is kind of like living in a real world Coke commercial – you know, “I’d Like to Teach The World to Sing.” You don’t need commercials like that if you are looking at koalas in the fur. Knowing this means that for the first time, I understand why Coke hired The Seekers to sing the jingle. The Seekers, you see, are an Australian group. And just before they recorded the jingle, they spent two and half hours in the koala sanctuary so they could get into just the right happified state to sing the song (any longer and they would have been reduced to just going “Awww” and would not have been able to sing any harmonies or anything).

All of this is to say that if you get a chance to see real live koalas, do it – they are really a hundred times cuter than what they look like in pictures or on TV. And if you can’t get to see any koalas in the next little while, why not come to see Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room, who will be playing on Sunday, July 21, at the Free Times Cafe (College and Major, just west of Spadina). We start at 8 pm and there is no cover and lots to eat and drink.

What do Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room and koalas have in common – not much. Actually not much implies we do have some little thing in common with koalas but that’s not really true at all. But we sing songs and The Seekers sing songs so there is sort of like one or two degrees of separation between our group and koalas, and let’s face it, in Toronto, this is probably the best you’re gonna do.

Hope to see you there.