It’s rough to come out of the gate with a disclaimer like this, but nonetheless: we at Portland Monthly do not condone bestiality. I do not want to, nor have I ever wanted to, become romantically entangled with a bear, dog, lion, or bunny. (Though I do get the sense that the Velveteen Rabbit would be a gentle lover.)
That said, like many on the internet this week, I have become entranced by mall-core legends Build-a-Bear Workshop’s new line of adult-oriented “After Dark” Valentine’s Day plushies. There’s a lot to say: Why make the marketing so horny but never get randier than a C-minus “crap” pun in the final product? Does Pawlette the rabbit have a drinking problem? Are we supposed to find them hot, or just relatable?
Whatever the answers, this graphic T–clad cast of characters—running about $25–50 a pop on the Build-a-Bear website—has rarely left my mind since Monday. To take my obsession to its logical conclusion, I have opted to rank each Build-a-Bear After Dark critter by the amount I want to date them. If you take issue with any of my choices, I encourage you to reach out—I just ask that you first reach deep inside yourself.
15. HAPPY BROWN BEAR
He seems nice enough, and in a lot of situations I could probably get over his neurotypicality to take a shot at real connection. Unfortunately, he is also a cop who seems to forget that the first Pride was a riot.
My homosexuality notwithstanding, I’m just not sure I could vibe with such a girlboss. I bet Barkleigh is a lovely dog, but the whole hard seltzer, business-casual, “Not Today Cupid” thing makes her feel like the star of a romcom I have no business butting into.
13. PLAYFUL PUP
I’ll just come out and say it: wayyyyyyyy too kinky for me.
12. RED ROSES BEAR
Has a lot of specialized knowledge about, like, French impressionism, which would hook me at first, but then I'd find out it's because their dad was always doing business in France, and they came with. For a minute I would want to believe it's possible to date the child of a consultant, but two weeks later I would discover it's one of those things that simply cannot be done.
11. CUDDLY COW
On paper, it works: we both grew up near Tillamook, we're both huge Fiona Apple fans, we both have nuanced feelings about the latest Sally Rooney. But after two cocktails at Hey Love, we're just not vibing—it's like we've both been too online for most of our 20s, but in, like, different ways?
10. GROGU (BABY YODA)
Can be really difficult to date someone with fans.
9. CUDDLY BROWN BEAR
Charming and inoffensive, but I'm not sure how much Cuddly Brown Bear brings to the table? Has huge adult-picky-eater energy, very little going on behind the eyes, and seems constitutionally incapable of having an opinion about the movie we just saw.
8. HAPPY HUGS TEDDY
A real guy's guy who can't seem to hold down a job, Happy Hugs lacks follow-through in general, I feel—probably great at the honeymoon phase and not much else. At the start, he's role-playing in the sack and slinging bouquets, but before I know it he's smothering me and his temper's flaring up and all he has to show for it is bullshit like this.
7. RED VELVET SPARKLE (FEATURING SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS)
Really mean but the sex is amazing.
6. TIMELESS TEDDY
I wish I had bigger daddy issues that would compel me toward this hunk. Like Happy Brown Bear, Timeless Teddy is a first responder, but he's a firefighter, because he gets it. Quiet, but not in an emotionally stunted way—he just doesn't feel like there's that much to say. Has literally never heard of Twitter. Would never work, wish desperately that it would.
5. NIGHT SKY TEDDY
Not gay as in wearing a “Love Wins” T-shirt, queer as in draping astrology merch over their cosmos-colored body. I admit I’ve had mixed success with zodiac-obsessed lovers in the past, but my current boyfriend recently left a candle burning in his sink for like three days because a witch in Brooklyn told him to, so I remain open.
4. LOVABLE LION
Feels like the type of guy I'd meet through a mutual friend, who would be like, "He has an EP," and I'd sort of roll my eyes and say, "Oh, cool," but then I'd go home and listen to the EP and it'd randomly be kind of good. We'd hook up a few times and I would 100 percent end up being too much for him, but he'd be normal about it, and I'd come out the other side suddenly able to communicate my needs/do my taxes/hydrate sufficiently.
3. COCOA CUDDLES TEDDY
Just looking at this photo completely rids my body of cortisol. Things would be so easy with Cocoa Cuddles Teddy. As far as I can tell, he's the only crewneck-clad After Dark critter (hot), and his proportions make him look kind of tall. I feel like I could tell him I've been trying and failing to send an email for three days and he'd just make me pho and tell me I have "a beautiful brain."
2. BROWN SLOTH
When I say I don't have a type, I'm covering for the fact that this is my type.
Here's the thing: I have never dabbled in heterosexuality, but that's because I have never met a Pawlette. A canonically divorced woman in STEM, this rabbit(?) queen is the life of the damn party. She goes out, she turns looks, she gets comfort. I would come out to her 18 months in and she would be cool with it. We would vacation in Seville every spring and people would be like, "How do they afford that?" After we broke up, we would never drift apart, and we'd have Thanksgiving together for the rest of our lives, where my kids would say "How do you know Aunt Pawlette again?," and we'd laugh and laugh, and Pawlette would uncork another rosé, and we would tell them everything.