Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Vietnamese (or something) Barbie Doll

Results of the biannual CUWP reunion walk-and-write (where we do just that, walk around downtown Provo--or wherever--wait for inspiration, and write. Then we all go out to eat and talk for hours.): 

Gramma Roundy had a managerie filled with little trinkets; a crystal heart-shaped container, a porcelin dog with a worn-down nose, mismatched China, and a two-foot tall doll with black hair pulled into a bun and a silk green kimono.

I used to think grandpa gave it to her after the war--because it looked Vietnamese--but as I got older, I realized that he served in WWII, so probably not.

I admired that doll, opening the glass doors, stroking her hair, careful not to knock her off the stand. I watched my own reflection in the mirror at the back of the case and caught a glimpse Gramma Roundy smiling from her recliner behind me.

I didn't ask for it. I had honed that skill, that ability to get what I wanted by dropping what I thought were subtle hints. "What a beautiful doll!" "I love her red red lips." "What's her name?" Until Gramma said, "You can have her if you want."

She probably assumed I'd treasure her forever, but not so. I played with her for a few months. I ripped the band from her hair and it became matted and tangled in a manner a few weeks. Ultimately, I got bored of her immobility. There were no buttons, no eyes that drooped closed when I tilted her back in my arms. The stand didn't even come off.

The doll was just so stationary. I got bored with the doll, whose name I gave her, I can't remember. Probably something unnatural to her character and more of a reflection of mine. A name like Lisa or Melissa.

Gramma died a couple years later. I wish I could remember more about her. I remember watching Nickelodeon on the floor with my sister in front of a huge television in Gramma Roundy's living room and my dad always calling her "an amazing cook" but I can't pinpoint one meal that stands out. I do remember that doll. And how her hugs were big and warm. I bet my dad remembers her hugs too.

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