When I bring someone home for the first time, they can expect there to be two other inhabitants of my bed: my Teddy and Blankey (preferred pronouns: he and she, respectively. Also, definitely proper nouns). I get that a Teddy with alopecia and a discolored Blankey don’t exactly set the mood, but I have better things to do than try to hide them. They are part of me and my story, and anyone who thinks it’s weird can fuck right off.

When I first moved to NYC after college, I didn’t have the same mindset. Before a night out, I’d stash Teddy and Blankey, who I will refer to as “T & B” from here on, with the towels and linens. I was scared that if I brought someone home, I’d be brutally rebuffed at the sight of my bedfellows. When a night didn’t end the way I had anticipated and I came home solo, I retrieved T & B, feeling sorry I had subjected them to an uncalled for time out. Now, at 26, I’ve learned to give less of a fuck — about most things, but especially their visibility to people I’m sleeping with. Sometimes, it comes up in conversation before someone makes it back to my bed, and sometimes it doesn’t. If it’s the latter and we move to the bedroom, I’ll casually mention that I still sleep with a Teddy and Blankey while pointing to them. Most ask why, which, fair. The easiest and most honest answer to that is it’s comforting.

I’ve had Teddy and Blankey since I was born. They’ve been with me through everything, most notably my parents’ tumultuous divorce. Well, if we’re being accurate, this iteration of Blankey isn’t the original. My OG Blankey had an unfortunate accident in my summer camp’s laundry room, leaving her disheveled, frayed, and falling apart. Her remains live in a silk pouch in my jewelry box (R.I.P (rest in pieces), Blankey girl). Blankey 2.0 was adopted shortly after the OG’s tragic injury thanks to my mom, who was rightfully afraid I’d have a good old-fashioned temper tantrum if I didn’t have a knitted rectangle of fabric to sniff.

This continued attachment isn’t exclusive to me, or even abnormal in my world. My best friend from college, Chan, has a cylindrical, Band-Aid colored, micro-bead filled pillow, lovingly referred to as Ballsac (no K, for street cred). I’ve seen Ballsac in the flesh. I’ve touched it, fondled it. And I can verify that the resemblance to a scrotum is uncanny. I asked her if ’Sac used to be pink, which caused her to text-yell that it is still pink. She hides ’Sac behind her pillows, but when it comes to someone she’s consistently sleeping with, we have a similar method.

“I whip it out, and explain what it is and how my friends make fun of me,” Chan says. “Everyone just has to deal.”

I was recently introduced to another friend, Nora’s, childhood blanket: Rag. I’ve never met Rag IRL, only FaceTimed with them (they/them are Rag’s preferred pronouns), and scrolled through Rag’s IG (Rag’s owner has requested I not link to the page for privacy purposes). Chan noted that it looks similar to OG Blankey, aka like a small intestine. She’s not wrong. Like me, for Nora, “it’s a comfort thing” —  she’s had Rag since birth. And despite her deep roots with the scrap of cloth, she hides it in her sock drawer when she has guests. She claims that she knows it’s disgusting. She would, however, introduce someone she was in a serious relationship with to Rag.

The reason I leave T & B lying around is because I want to be comfortable in my own home, and yes, that includes when someone stays over. When I’m alone, I wear Blankey around my neck like a scarf and hold Teddy like a small dog under my arm. Or, I hold Teddy like an actual baby and wrap Blankey around him for warmth. And when I’m sleeping, Blankey lays across my eyes, fashioned like a sleep mask, while Teddy lays beside me. So when someone spends the night, we all spoon. The guy is the big spoon, T and B are the small, and I’m the middle, the glue that holds everyone together. Most guys don’t really seem to care. Lots of guys actually join in on the fun. Some like to hold them to see what all the hype is about. Others will take a sniff of Blankey, mimicking the deep inhale I take of her, but usually come to the conclusion that “they don’t get it.” Which is fine — more sniffs for me. One time, an ex took it too far and threw poor Theodore like a football, thinking it’d be funny (it was not).

Being so open about my habit has actually served me well. I have lots of quirks — my cute-as-hell companions being one of them. And if someone can’t handle my two most prized possessions, then I know they’re never going to accept my complicated relationship with vegetables — or much else, for that matter. Their reaction gives me all of the information I need to know if they deserve a place in my life. And if they don’t end up accepting it, that’s OK. Four to a bed is a bit crowded anyway.