Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Devo of the Dolls

It's a gray, cold morning. There was wet snow overnight, the translucent, gray slushy kind that turns to water underfoot. Then to ice. The plow came at 2:30 am. I listened to the repeated concussions of the blade on the driveway, the ensuing long scrape. Men at work. DK was asleep; a cat was pressed against my feet.

When I was a child, I used to pretend my bed was a boat. I was adrift in the night safe in its hold, with a whole host of dolls and stuffed animals. Can I remember them ? There was Ella, the red stuffed elephant. I got him (yes him) when I was one. I still have him: a pathetic rag of a thing. Eyeless, patched, its red velvet worn napless, its back seam splitting. There was Teddy, a large yellow stuffed bear. (I did not waste a lot of imaginative energy on naming my dolls.) I slept with Teddy until adolescence. One day he mysteriously disappeared. Vanished. Poof. I've always suspected my parents of the crime, as they had begun to joke about my eventual sharing of a bed with bear and husband. There was a vinyl boy doll, Mickey. There was Nancy, also vinyl; she was a Campbell's Soup Doll -- 1950's avatar of product tie-in marketing to children. There was Ginette, a yellow haired girl doll. They formed a complex social group whose details I can't remember. Ella was the boss, and was somehow responsible, at midnight every New Year's Eve, for making sure the year changed correctly. I wish I remembered how that worked.

I still can't sleep properly without hugging a small pillow.

One doll I had who was not a member of that night boat crew was Poor Pitiful Pearl. She was a girl doll with bangs (like me) and a tattered, patched blue dress and black stockings. And a kerchief. I always assumed that I was given the doll as a secret, ironic adult joke. Poor Pitiful Paula. Nostalgia items, both of us. Dance with the dolly with the hole in her stockings.

In John Cheever's Falconer the prison doctor had holes in his socks.

As do I, from time to time.

My Bubbi took the skill at using a darning egg to the grave with her. I mend socks like I would a laceration. She taught me a fabulous way to patch the knees of blue jeans. In recent years I have grown lazy. Used iron-ons. Which fall-off. Devolution, dears.

Pincushion, darning egg, beeswax.

Email, Ipod, Cell Phone.

Now it's bright and cold and windy. Twice I've had to go out and retrieve trash cans skidding acress the drive.

I got a letter, today, from Moscow, from a 23 year old man with the same unusual last name as mine, looking for information on his ancestry. I was pleased and excited; he'd found me on the internet -- I've a digital trail of poems, and one has my home address on it.

I called my father, who was intrigued, but suspicious.

I have a rare and beautiful last name. Last night, during the credits of Kieslowski's Decalogue I decided that I should have some kind of Deeply Euro first name to go with it. I was drooling over the Polish names: Miroslava, Ewa, Graznya, Halina. Or, even better: Wojchiech, Witold, Zbiegnew. There's a bit of the transvestite in me. Bubbi would find that scandalous. She found my brother's shoulder lenghth late 60's hair scandalous. She said, once, famously: you look like a gorilla.

Poor pitiful Paula and the Gorilla. Teddy -- return from your grave at the Andover Dump and avenge us !

No comments: