Secret Pop

May 4, 2005

to all the toys I ruined with my affection

My father used to call my sister Sarah and me the Bigmouth Singers. It was a joint reference to this toy we had -- which was a piano that had keys connected to these fliptop-headed characters whose mouths would flip open when you struck the corresponding note -- and to us being noisy pains in the neck. I wrote all over that toy with a ballpoint pen.

I was given a Mrs. Beasley doll for Christmas when I was just a toddler. Mrs. Beasley from the hit television show A Family Affair. Here is a photo of me wearing the little plastic specs that came with the doll on Christmas morning in Naples, Italy. It has appeared in my blog before, but that was years ago.

Even then, my head looked huge. I loved that doll and used to carry it around with me all the time. Then I wrote on its face with a ballpoint pen.

I had a lot of Fisher-Price paraphernalia. The schoolbus with the little peg people. The farm with the silo and the barn door that mooed when you swung it open. The schoolhouse that doubled as a desk and chalkboard with magnetic letters in a little cubby. I wrote on every single one of those items with a ballpoint pen.

I had a baby doll that cried with real tears and even wet and soiled its diaper with water and "food" you fed it through a little hole in its puckered lips. I gave it the measles one day. With a ballpoint pen.

I miss Weebles. I miss the pirate ship and the desert island and the treehouse. I used to play the shit out of those toys. And then I made the mistake of bringing them in the pool with me, and the little paper inserts that are the Weeble dudes' faces and outfits started to pucker and crinkle and fade. I don't think I defaced them with pens at all, but it was probably just an oversight.

Sarah had that bust of Barbie you were supposed to use for making up and hair-styling. I wrote on its face with a pen. And I think I also cut most of its hair off. And Sarah also got that My Size Barbie that walks when you pump the arm. I totally wrote all over that thing's creepy smiling face. Even the teeth.

My mom bought me a plush Mickey Mouse at Disneyland the first time we ever went there, and I stained its face pretending to feed it a chocolate chip cookie. No pen marks, but that chocolate stain never went away.

I have felt sorry for every toy of mine (and Sarah's) I lovingly destroyed. Sorry for the disrespect and sorry for the loss of mint condition merchandise to appraise on auction sites. But I note in the retelling of these shameful tales that I always told my mother I wanted to be a writer, and she always corrected me with the word "lawyer." There might be a metaphor in there. I never became a lawyer. And much of what I do with my pens these days could still be considered defacement. And, these days, I take awfully good care of my toys.

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