Being Beautiful: All dolled up and everywhere to go

If you squinch your eyes just a little, open your imagination as far as it will go, and add a sprinkle of pixie dust if you have it handy, it’s not that hard to make them “real.”

Dolls have been a constant in my life, wishing for them as a child growing up in a time when little boys simply did not dream of such possessions. My first memory of pining over a doll was that rare afternoon I spent following my cousins Vicky, Stacy, and Beth around after Sunday school. I was only 3 or 4, but age did not stop me from carrying around one of my cousin’s plastic dolls. It was almost as big as I was.

Imagine Mama’s and Daddy’s surprise when my new friend and I met them back at the little red brick church house that evening, me in my Sunday best sitting beside a giant naked plastic doll with blonde hair. That was an interesting service as I recall, and although I never knew why that poor baby doll had no clothes, fortunately she was not anatomically endowed.

I seldom got the chance to indulge my fascination except when my next door neighbor Misty Ann and I played with her Strawberry Shortcake dolls behind the closed doors of her bedroom or when my best friend Tracey Annette and I dressed and redressed all of her Barbies late at night while her grandparents laughed at Johnny Carson. Mine was a vicarious life lived through all of my little girl friends and their dolls.

It wasn’t until I was almost 10 and had mastered my negotiating skills that I talked Mama into the Raggedy Andy doll, explaining to her that Raggedy Ann was for girls while Raggedy Andy was meant for boys. It was a raggedy negotiation at best, and I don’t know whether she believed me or if I just wore her down. Still, Andy and I spent some good times together, and we didn’t miss Ann too much.

A few years ago I began collecting Barbies as a “grown-up,” well, more or less, and I confess all these years later it still thrills me to position Holiday Barbie behind the glass of her curio cabinet, adjusting her mink stole just-so. I have acquired many collector Barbies from my travels to New York City, St. Thomas, Chicago, and other places a little boy from the country only dreamed of going. My favorites are the “I Love Lucy” Barbies celebrating Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo, and I have them all staring up at me from my foyer case to remind me of the afternoon laughter of a little boy and his mama watching our favorite show.

Some of my most sentimental treasures are the porcelain dolls from my mama’s own collection, sitting around on settees all throughout my home, real to me even without pixie dust, small, but poignant reminders of a boy and his love affair with dolls.

Contact David at [email protected].