Here’s a repost from August 2018 as I wait for my stomach to settle.
Today, I think I’ll write something silly as opposed to something depressing or controversial. It may not seem like it in most of my posts, but I actually have a pretty great sense of humor. When I was younger, I had a male friend in college with whom I used to spend a lot of time. His name is Chris.
I’m still friends with this guy, by the way. I just don’t get to see him anymore because he’s in Virginia and I’m in Germany. When we were in college, though, we were kind of inseparable. We spent hours hanging out and, when he was a drinker, we often got drunk together. He quit drinking when we were juniors in college.
Anyway… located right next to our campus was a McDonald’s. I didn’t eat there very often because I never had any money. But one night, my friend went there with some of his buddies. I believe they were all inebriated and likely pretty obnoxious, too.
Chris went up to the counter and ordered a cheeseburger. The guy who took his order apparently got an attitude and said, “You want a bun with that?”
Chris, who was likely feeling no pain, said, “What kind of a question is THAT? Of course I want a BUN with that! Who the hell orders a burger without a bun?”
The guys who were with Chris were gently trying to extricate him from the situation, but he was still cussing as the dude handed him his order.
Actually, I can think of a few funny situations involving Chris and fast food. One of his favorite things to do when we were in college was act like he was going to throw up. He’d make a fist and sort of hesitantly place it to his mouth, then start fake hurling. He said he’d always wanted to try that at a fast food restaurant. He wanted to go up to the counter and act like he was going to puke, then sort of settle down and say, “Can I have another burger, please?”
The funny part of this scenario is that he’d then revert to acting like the no nonsense female worker behind the counter. Her eyebrows would be raised, unbelieving, and her eyes would be downcast. And she’d say, her voice laced with attitude, “Do you know how to work a mop?”
Then Chris would revert back to his fake puking self and say, “I just want another burger, please.”
Chris, acting as the female worker, would say, “Do you see anyone else standing back here? Who you think gonna clean up the mess if you toss your cookies all over my clean floor?” With a wag of her head, she’d continue, “Now, you know how to work a mop, I’ll give you another burger.”
The little scenario would usually kind of end at that point. Sometimes, I’d join in and play the fast food worker.
Chris also told me once about how he and his mom went to a McDonald’s once and saw some woman cleaning with a toothbrush. Chris’s mom, who died in 2009, said, “Chris, I think that woman is a halfwit. Why is she cleaning like that?”
This isn’t to say, by the way, that I think people who work in fast food are halfwits. I don’t think that at all. There is no such thing as truly unskilled labor. I just laugh when I remember the way my old friend would do these imitations and act out these scenarios, especially in places like McDonald’s, where you’re liable to run into anyone…
This topic comes up thanks to the hamburger meat in our refrigerator that needs to be consumed. I probably ought to go vegan, but I don’t see it happening at this point in my life.
Yes, kids, this is what we did in the 1990s, when Internet for everyone was still just a pipe dream. I kind of miss those days.
I originally published this book review on my old blog on December 14, 2016. It appears here as/is.
I have long admired singer-songwriter Carly Simon. Having been born in the early 1970s, her music, and that of her ex husband’s, James Taylor, has been a part of my personal soundtrack for many years. I also enjoy reading life stories, especially by people I admire. I downloaded Carly Simon’s 2015 memoir on the day it was released, but I’ve only just read it. I tend to download a lot of stuff that interests me and it sits in the queue until the mood strikes for me to read it. There was a time when I would have greedily devoured this book days after its release, but I guess I’m slowing down in my old age.
Anyway, Carly’s book is entitled Boys in the Trees: A Memoir. I like the book’s title, since it references the title song from her 1978 album, which I remember almost wearing out during Christmas break 1991. I had a month at home with my parents and had always loved the song “You Belong To Me”. I bought the CD and played it non-stop. It was a comfort during those bleak winter days when I was 19 years old and hating the semester break at home from college.
Simon’s book starts with her story of growing up in New York, the daughter of Richard Simon, one of the founders of the Simon & Schuster publishing company. She had a privileged upbringing, surrounded by family and friends. Her two older sisters were beautiful and talented. Her brother, Peter, was younger and the son her father had wanted. Carly writes that she was supposed to have been a boy named Carl, but when she came out female, her father simply added a “y” to the name. Carly Simon’s father evidently didn’t mesh that well with his third child. He was the first of many men to disappoint her.
As Simon grew older, her father grew frail. Sidelined by strokes, he was eventually convinced to sell his interest in Simon & Schuster. Carly’s mother, Andrea, fell out of love with her husband and had an affair with a much younger man named Ronny. Starting at age 7, Carly also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a visiting teenager who had seen porn and wanted to replicate it.
As a teenager, Carly Simon lived in Martha’s Vineyard. James Taylor’s family also had a home there and that was where the two of them met, when they were adolescents. In November 1972, they would marry at City Hall, wearing wedding bands they purchased for $17.95 each, at a Middle Eastern kiosk. The rings weren’t even the ones that had been on sale. Simon had been involved with other men, notably Mick Jagger and Warren Beatty. Taylor had been seeing Joni Mitchell before he hooked up with Carly. But they were destined to be together and make two children, Sally and Ben.
Boys in the Trees is divided into three books. I think Simon was wise to divide the book that way, since her story is not one that necessarily lends itself to seamlessness. The last book is about her marriage to James Taylor, a man she clearly deeply admires and probably still even loves. Sadly, James Taylor was apparently not a very good husband in the 1970s. He had a pretty serious drug and alcohol problem, which Simon references, as well as a penchant for affairs with other women. They were together when their careers were both smoking hot and, though they were able to make beautiful music together, it wasn’t enough to forge a commitment.
Simon writes that things really went to hell in her marriage to James Taylor after she’d become a mother. Suddenly, the children were more important and she could no longer turn a blind eye to Taylor’s dalliances. I got the sense that perhaps James Taylor resented that. In any case, she basically makes James Taylor of the 1970s out to be a selfish ass. Whether or not he still is, I don’t know.
Naturally, whenever I read about another person’s relationship, I wonder a bit about the other sides of the story. And there always are other sides to include the truth. I don’t think Carly Simon is lying about what happened, and she admits to being difficult herself. But naturally, this book skews toward her perspective… not that I think cheating and drug abuse is necessarily acceptable behavior. Simon writes that she still lives in the house they lived in and much of it still bears Taylor’s design marks, some of which were not as inspired as his songwriting.
I think Carly Simon would have made a fine author had she not been a musician. Her writing is elegant and interesting and I enjoyed reading about the many inspirations behind songs I’ve loved for years. When she was married to Taylor, the two collaborated a lot on their albums. It was cool to read about how Carly Simon came up with the ending coda for “Terra Nova”, a gorgeous collaboration on Taylor’s 1977 JT. I well remember the hit song “Jesse” from the early 80s, which she reveals was actually inspired by her son, Ben.
As someone who has experienced anxiety and depression, I appreciated Carly’s revelations about her own issues with panic attacks. She writes about one serious attack she suffered in Pittsburgh back in 1981, when she had to call upon the audience to help her. She writes that she still gets letters from people who were at that concert, many of whom express a great deal of empathy for the situation she was in at the time. Panic and anxiety kept Carly Simon off the public stage for several years.
Curiously, Simon’s book ends basically with her split from Taylor. She doesn’t write about her second marriage to and divorce from poet Jim Hart, although she does mention him in her acknowledgments. She doesn’t write much about her breast cancer battle, nor does she write about how it felt to become a grandmother. But perhaps those stories will come later.
In any case, I really enjoyed Carly Simon’s memoir, Boys in the Trees. I recommend it.
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Last night, I was on Facebook, reminiscing with fellow Longwood University graduates about a wonderful professor we all knew. In my case, she was the very first Longwood professor I met when I came to orientation during the summer of 1990. I was immediately impressed by her optimism and enthusiasm. She was friendly and fun and dynamic, and it was all 100% genuine. She really set an exciting tone for me during those early days at Longwood. I’ve never forgotten it, or her. She was the first of MANY excellent professors I had in college.
For many years, this professor taught speech and theater. I was an English major, but I had double minors in speech and communications, so I did end up having her for one of my classes. I always remember her to be a wonderful, kind, and energetic role model.
During my junior year at Longwood, I had this professor for a course called Interpersonal Communications. It was a large class, so after class began, she decided to split it into two sections. She wanted me to take the later section, which was co-taught by a teaching assistant. I had a conflict, though, because I was also taking voice lessons in the music department, and my lessons were scheduled during the time the other section was being held. Voice lessons were arranged privately between teacher and student. Obviously, my Interpersonal Communications professor had looked up everyone’s schedules, saw that I didn’t have another scheduled class, and figured she could just stick me in the other section.
I don’t remember why we did it this way, but I ended up attending both sections of the class. On the days I had my voice lessons, I went to the earlier session. On the other days, I went to the later class. It worked out fine, and I got an A in the class, although I wonder what would have happened if I’d had a job or some other commitment… but then, it was Farmville, Virginia in the early 90s, and jobs weren’t that plentiful in those days.
This professor’s class was always interesting. I remember she had people come in to speak to us. One day, a physical education professor, notorious for being a very tough grader, came in and told us about how he and his ex wife had lost a child to leukemia. I didn’t have this P.E. professor myself, but I remember my friends talking about how difficult his class was. When I heard his tragic story about how he’d lost a child and it ruined his marriage, I saw him in a very different light.
The professor also told us a lot about herself, and her history. I distinctly remember her talking about her first husband, the father of her sons, and how he was a severe alcoholic. My father was an alcoholic, so I empathized a lot with her story about her ex husband. One day, I wrote in a paper about my father and this professor gifted me with an insightful book about how to deal with alcoholics. I ended up passing it on to my mom, and she was so very grateful, because the book was helpful to her. I also remember going to this professor’s home one Saturday, along with the rest of our class, and being treated to a wonderful home cooked brunch. I still remember her delicious breakfast casserole.
Suffice to say… I have some very warm and fuzzy memories of this professor, and my college, where I got an excellent education in a supportive environment, and found so many lifelong friends. The professor is still living, but is currently in a nursing home/assisted living housing. Her health is declining. So we were all in this Facebook group, remembering her, and I was really enjoying all of the stories and memories… Someone shared her mailing address so people who love her can send cards to her.
And then, he showed up…
There’s one in every crowd, isn’t there? That person who just has to come in and shit on everything. That person who has to break wind in the middle of a room where there’s nothing but good vibes, sunshine, and fresh air. I’ll call him Dick, because frankly, that’s what he is. But that’s not his real name.
I kind of knew Dick when we were students at Longwood. We were both involved with the radio station. It was an activity I had really enjoyed and had a knack for doing. My junior year, someone nominated me for music director of the station. Dick was also nominated. He had ambitions to work in radio. I probably did too, although I don’t have the same kind of overbearing, domineering personality that Dick has.
I remember that Dick had rather forcefully inserted himself in the business at the radio station. He used to lecture everyone about the FCC regulations, warning the disc jockeys about not playing music with swear words, lest we get a “$50,000 FINE!”. I don’t remember why he was lecturing people, as at the time this was happening, he didn’t have any kind of official authority. We were all volunteers anyway.
I also remember that he was constantly ordering people to play new music instead of whatever they wanted to play on their shows. A lot of the music he wanted people to play, quite simply, sucked. But he was bound and determined to be in charge, and was trying to force everyone to do things his way, even though the station only had ten watts of power and could only be heard within a six mile radius of the school. He wanted to take over, come hell or high water.
I remember that Dick set his sights on vanquishing me in our mutual bid to be music director. He harassed me when I was on the air and complained about me to the station manager. He got his male radio station friends to gang up on me, even blatantly getting them to publicly endorse him during our meetings. His friends were popular and into music, but they were otherwise slackers who didn’t really give a shit about their educations.
I had worked very hard at radio, taking time slots for shows that no one else wanted. At one point, I was on the air from midnight to four in the morning on Saturdays. I did those shows because I truly loved radio, even though I’m not naturally a night owl and people weren’t always listening at that hour.
And then Dick came in and RUINED it. I have not forgotten that, nor, if I’m honest, can I say that I’ve forgiven him for being such an insufferable control freak and shitting on an activity I enjoyed so much. I’m not very good at forgiveness.
I couldn’t stand Dick, and since I was not as resilient or assertive back then as I am now, I ended up quitting the radio station so I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. I regret that I did that now. In fact, even then I hated to do it. Unfortunately, once the radio station was overtaken by Dick and his cronies, I just couldn’t stomach it, or him.
Of course, today I would politely tell Dick to go fuck himself. Therapy is a good thing.
I never forgot Dick…
So last night, there we were, posting our memories about this beloved Longwood professor. In comes Dick.
Do you know what that asshole did? He related a story of his own about the professor. He’d had her for a class. Because she was a very caring and engaged teacher, one day she pulled him aside and asked him why he wasn’t participating in class. And Dick wrote that he told the professor he’d already read all the books she’d assigned when he was still in high school. He related this story in a smug, superior way, as if we should be impressed.
Then, to the rest of us, he wrote that Longwood isn’t a prestigious school like the University of Virginia or Rutgers University (Dick is from New Jersey). And that none of his employers ever cared that he went to Longwood.
Before I knew it, I posted “You were a total jerk in the 1990s, and I can see that nothing has changed.”
Someone else asked him what he was doing in the group, since he had such disdain for Longwood. Clearly the rest of us love the school, even if it’s not the most prestigious university. And, actually, Longwood is a pretty good school, especially for teachers, although there’s a lot more to a good college experience than reputation and acceptance rates. My husband, Bill, is a graduate of American University, which is a well-known, prestigious school. But he marvels all the time about the wonderful experience I had at Longwood, and the fact that I still know professors and fellow graduates almost thirty years post graduation.
Dick’s self-congratulatory post about how “above” Longwood he is, especially in a thread about a wonderful teacher, was bad form and totally out of place. It reminded me of something Donald Trump would do.
Maybe Longwood isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic school for many people. Dick has no right to come in and take a dump on other people’s good memories about a beloved professor with his negative, pompous, arrogant bullshit.
Dick responded to me. He wrote, “I don’t remember you at all.”
I’m not at all surprised that he doesn’t remember me; and, in fact, I am relieved. So I wrote, “Good. I’m glad you don’t remember me. Let’s keep it that way.”
This morning, I noticed that Dick’s comments were deleted. I hope he got deleted from the Facebook group, too, since he obviously has such a low opinion of our alma mater. What a narcissistic asshole!
Although maybe it was wrong for me to call Dick a “jerk”, it was obviously something he needed to hear. Or maybe it was just something I needed to tell him. I know I wasn’t the only person who couldn’t stand him back in the day. Based by the reactions he got last night, I’ll bet I wasn’t the only person who was shocked by his comments about our teacher. I’m sure a lot of people were suffering in silence.
Obviously, Dick hasn’t matured beyond who he was thirty years ago. But I have done a lot of growing… and I have Longwood, in part, to thank for that. It’s too bad Dick wasted his time at such an “inferior” school for his prodigious “gifts” and “talents”. Wish he’d gone somewhere else.
And now for a somewhat related segue about narcissism and how the universe allows us to fix recurring situations…
Bill and I have both noticed that sometimes, the universe gives you a way to fix wrongs from the past. Last night, I got a chance to tell “Dick” that he’s a jerk. I wouldn’t have ordinarily called him a jerk. Ordinarily, I would have used more profane language. But, because I was commenting in a thread about a wonderful Longwood professor, I decided to keep my comments rated PG. Yea for self-control! That’s something of which impulsive narcissists don’t have much!
Bill and I have had a lot of dealings with narcissists. Each time we deal with someone who is narcissistic or has a “high conflict personality”, we get better at handling or flat out avoiding their bullshit. Slowly, but surely, we’ve found ways to deal with difficult people more effectively, and in a healthier, more assertive manner.
It started with Bill’s ex wife. She is an extreme narcissist, and Bill’s years with her have severely affected us both. We still talk about her, although not nearly as much as we used to, since we’ve managed to process and completely recover from the damage she wrought on Bill. She still comes up today, though, because Bill has been talking to his younger daughter. Bill’s daughter is still extremely affected by her mother’s narcissism. She still talks to her mom, so she still gets injured by her. And then there’s all those years she spent growing up with her mom treating her like a possession/servant, rather than a separate human being who should have been allowed to be a child.
Bill and his younger daughter were kept apart for many years, so every time they Skype, they have a lot of ground to cover. The Ex inevitably comes up in every conversation… and with every conversation, new and shocking things are revealed. Last night, as I was reeling from “Dick’s” nerve, Bill was hearing the latest about his ex wife, and how she continues to use and abuse the people closest to her– especially the people she’s birthed. And she apparently HATES #3, but stays with him, because otherwise she’d either go on welfare or– horrors– be forced to work!
We really shouldn’t be shocked by Ex’s shenanigans, though. She’s just doing what all narcissists do. They behave in shockingly self-centered and inappropriate ways, leaving more reasonable and empathetic people with shaking hands and nausea, or maybe just a sick sort of amazement and head shaking at their incredible nerve.
I shouldn’t be so shocked when I hear stories about how, when Bill’s two daughters were growing up, they’d spend hours doing the laundry, folding and delivering the clean clothes. Ex would address the girls while looking at her cell phone. The piles of laundry would be sitting on her bed, and Ex would say, “Well, this is all fine and good, but you should be putting the clothes away for me, too.”
Younger daughter, to her credit, refused. She and Ex butted heads about a lot of things, because even though younger daughter is as kind and empathic as Bill is, she’s not a doormat. I saw this tendency in her when she was a child, and I remember telling Bill that I knew she and Ex would fight a lot as she came of age. At the time, I thought younger daughter was like her mother.
I knew she’d eventually get in touch with us, and I dreaded it, because I figured she’d try to manipulate us the way Bill’s former stepson had. But it turns out that, actually, younger daughter is a very good person who, underneath all of her empathy and kindness, has a backbone and a limit to what she’ll tolerate. And she very wisely got the hell out of her mother’s house as soon as she turned 18.
Unfortunately, older daughter is now 30 and still cleans her mother’s house, does the laundry, babysits her younger, severely autistic brother, and languishes with student debt that her mother forced her to take out and share the excess with the household. Older daughter doesn’t get along with the 18 year old daughter Ex has with #3, and she told Bill’s younger daughter that she was so happy because she’d gone into her sister’s room to change the sheets and suddenly realized her sister was at college.
Yes, it’s a shock that older daughter, who has a college degree and life skills, is still enslaved by her narcissistic mother and changing the sheets for her younger adult sister. But you get what you settle for, right? Ex’s daughter with #3 is allowed to go away to college, because she stayed in state, and Ex can exploit her student loans, just like she did with Bill’s daughters. But Ex didn’t want younger daughter to go to BYU… in fact, she even told younger daughter that she hadn’t turned out the way she was “supposed to”. She wasn’t supposed to go to BYU and marry a guy from Utah. She was supposed to stay close to Ex, so Ex could keep using her for doing chores and getting narcissistic supply.
Bill doesn’t mind talking to his daughter about Ex. They need to compare notes. That lessens Ex’s power, since younger daughter can get information for more credible sources than her mother, who lies and twists the truth to suit her agenda. Yes, it keeps Ex in our sphere, but we get better at dealing with her and laughing at her ridiculous antics, rather than getting upset by them. Just like last night, instead of suffering in silence when “Dick” stank up the room, I called him a jerk for hijacking our thread and making it about himself and his alleged superiority. Honestly… was he expecting us to be impressed by that? I’ll say it again. What a narcissistic asshole!
And, those of you who read my protected post from a couple of days ago, might also realize that I dealt with a similar troublemaker, who was stirring up shit in my wine group, by kicking her out and blocking her. I didn’t give her a chance to cause more trouble. She was literally making me feel physically ill with her toxic bullshit. So I kicked her out, dusted off my hands, and now, things are a lot more peaceful and stress free for me… and probably others who had suffered in silence.
I’m certainly not perfect. I have a lot of neuroses and complexes. I have a lot of hang ups that stem from my “troubled past”. I continue to work on them, though, and I think I’ve made some progress, even if it’s not always obvious to my readers or other people.
Maybe I shouldn’t have called “Dick” a jerk, but it sure felt good to do that, rather than suffer in silence. He needed to be called out for his self-important comments about how Longwood was “beneath him” and a kind, caring professor, who’d regarded him and her job enough be concerned about him, was “unworthy of teaching him”, since he was so well-read, skilled, and talented and belonged at a “better” school.
Likewise, I don’t have to suffer in silence regarding Ex… or toxic people in my wine group who don’t know how to behave like good citizens, rather than stirring up shit and sabotaging what I’ve built. There was a time when I might have let the troublemaker in my wine group shut me down, just as I once let Dick shut me down. But those days are over. I’ve evolved. Clearly Dick and his ilk are the same jerks they were 30 years ago.
And now, that we’ve learned and evolved, Bill and I can help younger daughter free herself from her mother’s craziness, too. What a good feeling that is.
Here’s a repost from April 28, 2014. I’m reposting it because of the toy post I just wrote… it reminded me of trauma from my childhood. Hope you enjoy.
Yesterday, as I wrote about graduation season, I was reminded of another dramatic event from my youth. It actually took a long time to get over this particular trauma in the years after it happened, but yesterday was the first time I’d thought of it in a long while.
I was six or seven years old. We lived in Fairfax, Virginia, which is a suburb of the Washington, DC area. At the time of this incident, my sister, Becky, was about seventeen or eighteen. We generally got along, though she had a tendency to be moody and would get very upset and angry whenever the mood struck.
Anyway, one day she decided she wanted to go to Bloomingdale’s at Tyson’s Corner, which is a huge shopping mall in McLean, which is in northern Virginia. For some odd reason, she decided to take me with her. My parents had company coming over. Maybe that’s why she took me… they may have told her to get me out of the house as a condition of driving the car.
So we went to Bloomingdale’s and they had a kids’ area where there were books and toys. Becky told me to stay there and read while she went shopping. I stayed there for awhile. I really don’t know how long. It could have been a few minutes or an hour. I was a kid, and a few minutes probably seemed like an eternity to me. All I know is that at some point, I got bored and decided to go look for my sister.
I started wandering around, but I couldn’t find Becky. Before too long, I got lost. I started to cry. Eventually, a matronly looking black woman approached me. She said, “Little girl, are you lost?”
I was sobbing uncontrollably, but managed to tell the nice lady that I couldn’t find my sister.
She said, “Come with me.”
I followed the lady, who turned out to be a plain clothesed security guard. She took me to her tiny office and called my parents, who said they’d be right there to pick me up. Meanwhile, Becky was still out there in the store, looking at the latest fashions.
The security guard took me to what must have been a room designated for lost children. All I remember about it was that there were couches and a nurse worked there. Why there was a nurse working at Bloomingdale’s, I’ll never know. It was the 70s, though. Maybe she just looked like a nurse. I remember she wore a white uniform that resembled a nurse’s outfit of that era.
The security guard finally found Becky, who was furious with me and swore she’d never take me anywhere again. She kept asking the “nurse” why they hadn’t paged her. The nurse said they didn’t have a paging system in the store.
My dad eventually showed up at the mall. He had his friend with him. They were chuckling about my frightening ordeal. I remember being very worried about Becky being so mad at me for wandering off. Had this scenario happened today, God knows what kind of invasions that would have invited into our home. I’m sure someone would have called CPS! Not that I would have agreed with that, of course.
It was a scary incident when I was a kid, but I survived it mostly unscathed… and Becky did eventually forgive me and take me on other outings. She even joined me in Europe when I was traveling there on the way home from Armenia. Given how certain parts of that trip turned out, maybe it would have been better if she’d kept her promise not to travel with me anymore…
I woke up in a silly mood. Then I got up and cleaned the bathroom, which is what I do on Tuesdays. Maybe it was the fumes from the detergent, but I was positively giddy this morning. In fact, I was so giddy that Bill shot me a dirty look at the breakfast table. It’s his fault I’m like this, though. Before we were married, I usually slept until the sun was up. Thanks to being married to an Army guy for the past almost 19 years, I wake up at about 5:00am every day. A lot of times during the work week, I’ll lay down to try to read during the afternoon. Then I fall asleep. I guess I do need to sleep more during the night, but I wake up early because of Bill and the dogs.
So anyway… this morning, as I was sitting there feeling giddy, I noticed a post on a Facebook page called “Do you remember the 60s, 70s, & 80s”. It was about a doll called “Baby Alive”. I think I might have had one of these dolls when I was a child, but it was probably picked up from a yard sale or something. I don’t remember having the food or diapers that came with it. That was the doll’s gimmick. You could feed her baby food and she would “crap” it out in a diaper. I was laughing at the photo, because the diapers were called “Dampies”. But because of my crappy aging eyesight, I thought the box read “Dumpies”, which to me seemed like a better name. It’s time for me to get bifocals, but I couldn’t help but laugh about the mistake.
Now I’m reading the comments about this doll. It seems that many people were traumatized because of Baby Alive, whose life was apparently shortened when kids played with her as intended. Many people reported that Baby Alive didn’t last very long in their homes, because she would get maggots or mold from the “food”. It seems like that would be bound to happen. I wonder how it was that the toy manufacturers didn’t realize that putting a “food stuff” into a plastic and rubber toy that can’t be thoroughly cleaned was going to lead to trauma and tragedy.
Consider that the doll came with the food and diapers, but actually playing with this doll would mean using the special food and diapers, and that would mean having to buy more. I’m sure the toy makers were counting on that, and the money it might bring in… but they didn’t count on the doll getting infested with maggots and smelling putrid after only a few months. I watched the second video, with the lady demonstrating the doll. She shows the packet of “food” that came with this doll, and I can’t help but laugh at how sexist we still were in the 70s. The instructions say to use the bottle to measure out water, or Mom’s measuring spoon. What if it’s Dad’s measuring spoon?
I think I was a lot happier with Baby-That-A-Way. I remember getting her at a flea market. I think I might have even bought her myself, back in Gloucester, Virginia… Carter’s Flea Market, which used to be a lot of fun on the weekends. I could walk there from my house, although that meant crossing four busy lanes of traffic.
The trouble with Baby-That-A-Way, though, was that she ran on batteries. That meant you couldn’t bathe her or you’d ruin her. I was pretty rough on my toys. They actually got played with pretty well. I don’t know why I would have wanted this doll, other than the fact that she could crawl. I didn’t like playing with doll babies that much. I preferred Barbies, which had long hair and could be dressed in evening gowns and such. I guess I never had much of a maternal instinct, even when I was a child.
The other day, a friend from high school shared this on her Facebook page…
I inherited a bunch of my sisters’ 60s era Barbies. I abused the hell out of those dolls, which makes me sad now. Those poor dolls were actually prettier than my 80s era ones, even if they weren’t as functional. They were probably worth some money, too, before I fucked them up by playing with them. I like how pretty the girls are in these ads. I was never “pretty” as a girl. I was more “cute”, I guess. I always wanted long hair, but my mom would never let me grow it out. She’d get it cut short. I wore boys’ jeans and cords, because they fit me better than girls’ jeans did. I never got tall and slim. Instead, I stayed short and squatty.
I also had a Tiffany Taylor doll. I loved her, but was kind of traumatized when she didn’t live up to the hype, either.
Tiffany Taylor’s gimmick was that you could rotate her scalp and change her hair color. I always left her hair set to blonde, though, probably because I was a blonde myself. Consequently, when I turned the hair to brunette, it would stick straight up in the air. I think this doll was also subjected to one of my disastrous attempts at hair cutting. I somehow didn’t realize the hair wouldn’t grow back if I cut it. There was also a “Tuesday Taylor” doll, but I think she was supposed to be a Barbie sized version. Tiffany was a lot bigger than Tuesday.
But… my least favorite doll of all time was this one…
I remember actually taking a hammer to my Talk Up Doll, because I hated the annoying voice. Too bad… she probably would have been worth some money today. I suck at selling things, though, and like I said, I actually played with my toys. I was never one to keep something around just to look at and allow to collect dust. My former friend would do that. Not me… I had less impulse control, and I hate dusting.
Wow… I really fell down the rabbit hole with this topic. I suppose I could have written about something more important, like Afghanistan, but I really felt like writing something fun. And I did annoy Bill by laughing at “Dumpies” diapers. I guess my lack of interest in baby dolls wasn’t such a bad thing, though, since I never grew up to have any kids, anyway. Perhaps my “Barbie” life was a reflection of what my real life was going to end up being.
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