Gramma made Zeffir for me when I was 2. He was made of gray and red socks with a red stocking cap, and button eyes. She made one for my cousin Carrie, (I affectionately called her May-May until I was old enough to know better, and then a little longer), but I don't remember what she called hers or whatever became of it.
I was big into Babar at the time, so I named him after King Babar's monkey friend, Zephir.
I carted him everywhere with me. Zeffir and I followed Gramma out to the pens in the morning to feed the chickens and goats, we played in Grampa's vegetable garden, we melted crayons in the sunshine. He came to the creek when we swam, but normally, he waited for me on the bank but there was that one time.... I would twirl his tail around and around my finger when I was uneasy or upset, I napped with him under my head, I told him all my secrets.
As I reached the ripe old age of almost 4, I was beginning to have a fairly strong grasp of the alphabet and the basic sounds of the letters within it. Once, while I sat curled up in Grampa's lap, fiddling with Zeffir's left ear (which was, at this point, starting to feel a little loose), I asked Grampa for some drawing tools.
He set me up at the dining room table with a blank note pad, a fresh pencil and sharpener, and a glass of chocolate milk. (It may or may not have been goat's milk from our prize-winning Nubian goats, I can't quite remember.)
I was feeling pretty confident so I buckled down and thought about how to make all the letters.
Z would be easy, I was already great at making N's. I turned the note pad sideways, drew an N, and then turned it back. I smiled at my newly made Z and swung my feet proudly in the space beneath my chair. I must've looked like a smug little bitch.
I made a lowercase E with a nice loop. This was such a phenomenal E, that I rewarded myself with a gulp of chocolate milk.
The letter F was my favorite letter for a long time. I knew how to make that one just fine, no puzzling.
Trying to be as fair as possible, I used an I next instead of an E, since I'd used an E earlier. The sounds, to me, were more or less the same.
R's were no sweat, I was using to making those; there is one in my name. Stick line, cirlce, with a tail in front.
But that didn't look right.
I copied the letters down again and finished off my chocolate milk; doodled a potato-man and named him Grampa. He had a misshapen circle that served as both his head and body, with 4 uneven lines protruding from various points around him that acted as arms and legs.
I wrote out my best friend's name again. Z-E-F-F-I-R.
The extra F was satisfying enough. I wiggled my bare toes and looked at Grampa. He had fallen asleep with his cigarette burning. My attention span was waning; I left my note pad on the table and went out into the yard to chase chickens with the cousins. When I came back inside later that day, Grampa had stuck my drawing of him up on the fridge with my practice letters.
Zephir has been Zeffir ever since.