One Christmas I opened a present and discovered it was Chatty Cathy.
This was considered the doll at that time, second only to Barbie. It talked, and the eyes closed when you laid it down. You pulled a string, and it said words. And it was large for a doll, standing twenty inches tall.
I looked at it and felt the most profound disappointment. I’d never been interested in dolls. I liked building things, so Lego or Tinkerytoys were of great interest to me. The boy next door had Legos, and we built a cool house one day. It even had white picket fencing we could put around the green plastic “yard.” Another time, a bunch of relatives brought all their Tinkertoys, and we constructed a working windmill in the middle of the living room during some get-together, following a schematic included with the set. It was way bigger than the one pictured at right, requiring multiple containers.
What I really wanted was a typewriter. It was the second year I’d asked for one. There were stories in my head screaming to get out, and writing longhand was slow and painstaking. Besides, real writers didn’t use pencils or pens. They used typewriters.
I unwrapped this monstrosity–doesn’t she look creepy?–and feigned gratitude and happiness. They watched me, waiting for my reaction, expecting me to keel over with joy. I couldn’t get anywhere near faking that, so I pulled the string at the back of her neck to distract them, and she said something innocuous.
I forced myself to give her attention the rest of the evening, but after that night, I don’t recall ever touching her again. I couldn’t relate to her. She didn’t fire my imagination, like Legos or Tinkertoys. I mean, what the hell did you with her? Couldn’t figure it out, and after I’d heard all the phrases she said, I was bored.
I think she lived in the back of my closet for a while, then eventually disappeared. If they’d made movies like Chucky back then, I probably would have never slept again with this thing in my room. Good thing I didn’t catch this TV show! From Wiki:
Chatty Cathy was the inspiration for an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “Living Doll” originally broadcast November 1, 1963. June Foray, who had been the voice of the original Chatty Cathy, provided the voice for Talky Tina, a “talking” child’s doll that is secretly evil. One of her phrases was, “My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you.”
I did finally get my beloved typewriter the next Christmas. That and books were the only things I ever asked for. Legos and Tinkertoys were expensive, and my family didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid. But I had the typewriter, and that’s all I needed. Too bad I wore out the ribbon so quickly and no one thought to replace it. When I asked the parents to get me one, they said, “Sure,” but it never happened.
I went back to using a pen. *sigh* I had a writer’s callus until well after I grew up and moved out. In fact, I can still feel a little bit of it on that middle finger, even though I rarely write with a pen anymore. That’s how deeply ingrained it became.
I can’t tell you how pleased I was to get a computer for Christmas one year. R gave it to me, and I turned it on immediately. Word Perfect FTW! And not a doll in sight.