At the time, I was working in adolescent boy's treatment facility, where seriously emotionally disturbed children are taught life skills and how to integrate into more normal as opposed to institutionalized settings.
"What the HELL?!?!" I exclaimed, laughing to myself...the very thought that there was a gay Teletubby...did he sneak out at nights to hang out in colorful, velvet-textured truck stop bathrooms? Did he "accidentally" make messes on his crotch, for the express purpose of calling out that strange vacuum-robot? The possibilities, while disturbing, were also innumerable, and at least to me, deeply hilarious.
Being that a lot of the children at the home were emotionally and developmentally regressed, I'd had ample opportunity to see the Teletubbies in action; they'd struck me as nothing more than an irritating swath of repetitious color meant to distract children. I'd noted that Tinky Winky carried a "magic bag" that looked suspiciously like a purse, but had dismissed the thought at the time as one of the kids had gone shit-nuts and thrown food at the bird cages (still no idea why, to this day).
Perking up at hearing me curse, one of the kids asked what I was laughing at. I told them nothing, but the story was still going on in the background.
"Tinky Winky's a FAGGOT like Josh!!" One boy stood and screamed, pointing across the table at the boy in question, starting a mini-riot that took me two hours worth of intervention and paperwork to unravel. I hated this fucking job.
Tinky Winky slowly but surely became an insult among a group of 20 seriously emotionally disturbed boys in St. Charles, Missouri.
"Get OFF me, Tinky Winky!"
"Stop being Tinky Winky and HELP ME MOP!!"
"Awww....you gonna cry, Tinky Winky?"
This made up my days and evenings for months on end. Every time I yelled at one kid for calling someone Tinky Winky, it seemed like three more boys took it up as their own personal method of insult.
Finally, resolved to change this, and simply because I couldn't STAND hearing the name anymore, turning off the television when someone switched it over to Teletubbies (they were all obsessed with watching it now, pointing out the effete characteristics as they went) and tamping down an outright Tinky Winky rebellion, I sprang into action.
One of my job requirements being that of a role model, I had the idea to get a heart-shaped frame and a picture of the Teletubby in question. After framing Tinky in the giant heart, he went on my desk. Then I got a small figurine of him which went right beside the frame.
At first, the boys had no idea what to do. They couldn't ridicule ME for liking Tinky Winky; when asked, I left it at a cryptic "I think he's cool, kinda brave, actually." They walked away, shaking their heads in confusion.
After a couple weeks, there was no more mention of Tinky Winky.
A few weeks after THAT, my birthday rolled around, and the boys made a cake (see, I DO make a difference!) and we had a little party.
When I got off shift that night around midnight, I pulled my car out of the garage and was rounding the treatment home when I glanced in my rearview mirror...
"HOLY GOD!!!" SOMETHING was in the backseat, staring right at me with malevolently glittering black eyes. I swear. Black eyes.
Instinctively, I swerved sideways, jumping my jeep over a curb with a sickening thud and landing in the yard of the treatment home, as I skidded sideways toward the home still trying as I steered wildly to see WHAT IN HELL was in my backseat.
I skittered to a lurching sideways stop literally INCHES from disaster; my car was nearly resting against a corner of a bedroom.
I FELL out of the car, screaming like a woman as I noted the huge swath of destruction I'd caused; there were deep gouges in the lawn fully 20 feet long, uprooted shrubs and totally fucked landscaping leading up to my steaming, clattering jeep.
Children and staff poured out from the front door onto the lawn, confused as to what had woken everyone up as I reached into my backseat and withdrew a fully 4-foot tall stuffed TINKY FUCKING WINKY that had been carefully seatbelted in my back seat.
"Happy...birthday" one of the children weakly offered, "we thought you'd like it..."