That Big Doll

Like a bad penny, she just keeps turning up.

It all started as a parting gift, but now she is a fixture in our home. And I don’t know whether to be amused or horrified by her.

Last summer the girls were invited to a birthday celebration. A late July party is not easy to populate; most Parisians are away on vacation. The birthday-boy’s mother was thrilled to learn that we were in town that weekend and that the both Short-pants and Buddy-roo could attend. I dropped them at the appointed hour and they tumbled through the door and made themselves at home, taking over the apartment as though it was their own. How kids fall into play so quickly.

Since we’re a take-turns kind of family, De-facto was charged with retrieving our children after the party. He returned home with two girls and one life-sized plastic doll. The boy’s mother had insisted, De-facto said, and the girls had pleaded to let her come home to their community of dolls. What could he say? (“No, thank you,” comes to mind, but in what was probably a slightly awkward moment, this didn’t occur to him.)

There’s something terribly discomforting about the doll. That she is nearly the same height as Buddy-roo wouldn’t be so bad except she has the anatomical features of someone much more mature. She has breasts – perky, pointed ones – and her waist is inhumanely narrow compared to them. She came wearing one outfit: low-rider jeans and a Daisy-Mae midriff top. When you attempt to arrange her legs so that she might be seated, they spread apart. She is a tart.

I call her that big doll, as in “please take that big doll upstairs to your room.”
Last summer, Ricky and Lucy hosted more than a few lovely, lingering, Sunday brunches in our courtyard. And of course, that big doll found her way to the table. I tried to ditch her by sliding her between the sheets of Ricky and Lucy’s bed. It got a good laugh and a few compromising photographs, but no ransom was required for her return.

When the tornado twins stayed in our home while we were gone, I’m told that big doll was a huge hit and afforded many opportunities for curious kinds of play. This might explain, too, why the birthday-boy’s mother was rather eager to find the doll a new home.

That big doll usually stands in the corner of Buddy-roo’s bedroom, and yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly jumped out of my skin, startled by her life-size presence beside the basket of stuffed animals. Weeks pass where the girls ignore her, preferring their other dolls, yet any suggestion that she might find a new place to live is met with tears and pleas for mercy.
Our next-door neighbor asked the girls if they wanted to select a few toys that they don’t play with anymore to donate to a Christmas toy-drive for needy children. Both Short-pants and Buddy-roo demonstrated great philanthropic spirit. After an exhaustive inventory, they prepared a generous bag of toys and dolls that had fallen out of favor but were still in good condition. I didn’t even ask if that big doll could join the out-basket. I simply placed her on top of the bag with the other toys, in front of our neighbor’s door.

I just returned from a week-long trip to find that the bag of give-away toys had been taken, but my nemesis had stayed behind; that big doll was standing outside our door, glaring at me. It’s like a Stephen King novel; she will not disappear and she seems more evil each time I try to dispose of her. I’m not sure if our neighbor left the doll because Buddy-roo had persuaded her to, or if she just didn’t want to be seen carrying that big doll to the office.
With a style that puts the Silahis to shame, that big doll crashed our Thanksgiving dinner, turning up topless at the table after the cheese course. She managed to break one of my crystal champagne glasses while reaching for a cigar. She was the one who polished off the last of the cognac.

And I know what’s coming. We’re cooking a Christmas Goose with Ricky and Lucy this weekend; the double entendres will be too tempting. She’s so very clever, she must know I can’t possibly throw her out during the holiday season. I guess I just have to learn to live with that big doll.

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