A little girl in the 1970s may have been a tomboy, but she was expected to play with dolls. I had three large dolls and two baby dolls. The babies came in matching yellow dresses and had bunk beds with a ladder, and all you did with them was put them to bed. The larger dolls included a bride, a blond in a white pinafore, and a more glamorous flaxen-haired doll in a pink dress. If I had other dolls, I gouged out their eyes and cut off their hair and they did not survive to be remembered.
After I went off to college, my mother had my room repainted and redecorated. She befriended someone who made beautiful hand-sewn doll clothes for fun, and she sent my dolls to the doll hospital to get the ink removed and their eye-lashes replaced and their hair untangled and re-styled. At the time, I wondered if the dolls were made-over because I was the one wanting the make-over, but no one had the courage to say. In any case, the next time I visited, there they were, lined up on a shelf, more terrifying than ever.
Some people are afraid of clowns. I am afraid of dolls. They have glassy, unblinking eyes. They have no elbows. They don’t wear underwear, and if they do, it’s doll underwear. Their faces have unchanging, blank expressions. They always seem like they are up to no good, and you never catch them doing anything. As a kid, I could not sleep if they were sitting up. I would lay them all down so their creepy floaty eyes would close. Sometimes I would also bury them under a nice thick, safe layer of stuffed animals.
I had Barbies too, and I played with them a lot. Barbie wasn’t scary. She was a tiny mannequin. She had a convertible and camper van and friends. Baby dolls don’t have friends. You could make clothes for Barbie and you could carry her in your fist the way you might grip a flashlight.
Stuffed animals were the best though, and the more you had the better it seemed. May of my stuffed animals survived to my adulthood, and were shipped to me to live in this big messy house I’ve called home for the past 17 years. In September of 2008, a young dog we call Captain came to live with us, and he loves stuffed animals. Captain really loves stuffed animals. First, he chews off their eyes and their noses, and then he pulls out all their stuffing. Once, we had a mountain of stuffed bears, dogs, rabbits, and ponies. Now, we have none.