Twisted Tales of Toy TortureLittle Drummer Boy

Aviva Rothschild's Tales

Aviva and Barbie

God, I hated dolls. I think the only reason I had any was that I was brainwashed into wanting them by children’s advertising. The first Barbie I remember getting was one given me at Christmas (this was when I was young enough for my parents to give me both a Hanukkah and a Christmas—1970-1972, when I was seven or so). I didn’t just get a single Barbie, no ma’am. I got Barbie plus a big pink battery-powered monstrosity which I remember as some kind of fashion show (it may have had a wedding theme). You slid Barbie’s feet into little plastic shoes—I believe they were tilted to represent high heels—and flipped a switch, and Barbie was propelled jerkily down a "runway," spun around, and propelled jerkily back up, ad nauseum. That is, if she didn’t fall over because her feet weren’t properly installed in the plastic shoes.

My chief method of gleaning entertainment out of this glitzy piece of crap was not to dress up Barbie in different outfits and squeal in envy as she "officially" displayed her taste to the world. Instead, I spent my time trying to cram poor Barbie’s feet backwards into the plastic shoes, or putting just one foot in and sending her on her way, or seeing how much she could tilt without falling over, or trying to make her do handstands in the plastic shoes. I also liked to try to speed up the runway by tugging on Barbie while she was moving. No doubt this last activity contributed to the premature demise of the runway and the subsequent abandonment of an expensive toy that would probably have been worth megabux today.

Some years later, pre-teen and no fonder of dolls than I’d ever been, I inexplicably bought a Barbie with a "kung fu grip"—it wasn’t a kung fu grip, of course, but the principle was the same. If you bent her wrists so that the palms of her hands faced the floor, her thumbs closed on her palms; if you raised her hands palm up, her hands opened. The idea was that Barbie could pick up and hold things, especially her little purse. (Anything heavier than, say, a penny slipped right out, however.) My only explanation for this peculiar purchase was that I must have been fascinated by the gimmicky nature of this doll.

Of course, bar the hands, this Barbie was the same old same old, and I lost interest in it about five minutes after I’d unwrapped it. With boredom comes evil thoughts. This unfortunate Barbie would have been better off in the hands of the Nazis. Here’s a list of what I did to her:

I leave this topic with my favorite Barbie anecdote:

Much later, in the mid-1980s, when I was an undergraduate in college, I attended a party and discovered that I wasn’t alone in my childhood perversions. Seems that in his salad days, one of my acquaintances swiped his sister’s Barbie, went into the garage to his dad’s workbench, turned on the power sander, and sanded off Barbie’s breasts.

Aviva and Stuffed Animals

Once upon a time, before seal-clubbing came to light, some manufacturer made lots of little toy animals with real seal fur, as well as others with rabbit fur. Kind of amazing to think that these little perversions were given away as cheap Skee-Ball and miniature golf prizes. Anyway, I had a collection of about 10 of these critters, but two were my special favorites: Perky the Penguin and Owly the Owl. I was very little when I got these two, no more than a kindergartener and possibly younger than that. Perky, a little lingam (phallic symbol) of black seal fur with a long orange beak, green glass eyes, and a flat leather W as "feet"—in other words, not penguinlike at all—was my dear favorite. Owly, her husband, who at least looked like an owl, was covered with gray-white rabbit fur. Both critters were about three-four inches tall and a couple of inches in diameter. They weren’t stuffed; Perky was a hollow leather framework with fur, while under his fur, Owly was some hard thing that I’ve never identified.

I used to carry Perky with me everywhere, but I had to stop that when a little boy took her from me on the school bus and chewed off the tip of her beak. She was my best friend. My pet. I loved her fur. I used to stroke her across my cheek. Gee, it was awfully long—it was growing pretty fast. So I trimmed it. And I trimmed Owly’s fur. When the fur seemed to have grown a bit more, I trimmed them both again. In fact, I trimmed Owly nearly bald around the top of his head. But I wasn’t worried. It would grow back.

I still have this collection somewhere; my mother dug it out of some dusty pile of stuffed animals and gave it a new home. There’s Perky, with her short, neat fur coat and chewed-tip orange beak. There’s Owly, who looks as ragged as those parrots who pull out their own feathers. Examining this symbol of my youth, my father asked me why Owly looked so terrible. He couldn’t believe my embarrassed explanation. I was not a stupid kid; I knew Perky and Owly were just toys; why did I think their fur would grow back? But I have no more explanation for that behavior than I do for why I sprayed foot powder into the speaker of a clock radio when I was three or four. I guess it seemed like an interesting thing to do.

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Copyright 2001 D. Aviva Rothschild. All Rights Reserved