May 23rd, 2013

cap, captain miss america

In which Tea Buys Herself a Doll

I went to Toys R Us on Monday to buy a stuffed animal as a gift for a friend, and on my way to the register, I passed the Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

Now, when I was little, Strawberry Shortcake was my life. My mother made me a costume. I probably talked Berry Talk a bunch. I must have had a dozen dolls. We couldn't afford the fancy accessories, so my mother sewed little sleeping bags for all of them and gave me an old makeup case for them to live in.

I still remember that there was one doll I wanted desperately: Orange Blossom.

Orange Blossom was probably my first introduction to the idea of tokenism: the sole black character on the TV show and among the dolls.

She also had hair like mine.

In the early 80s, before the advent of Barbie and the Rockers, it was not particularly common to find a doll with curly hair-- especially any kind of curls that looked like natural curls, as opposed to neatly-coiffed ringlets that looked like they'd been made with curlers. There were other Strawberry Shortcakes dolls with curly hair-- quite a lot of them, in fact-- but Orange Blossom had the same short curls I had when I was four years old.

My father brought her back for me from a trip to Georgia. I still remember that I was riding on his shoulders when he gave her to me, and I called him a softie.

Anyway, in the current SSC reboot, the Orange Blossom doll, along with all the other dolls, has long, straight, silky hair. (Her skin is a lighter shade of brown, too).

I've never really had any interest in buying one of the new Strawberry Shortcake dolls, but then I saw this special edition Orange Blossom:

And now I have a doll.
cap, captain miss america


The books she reads are small
And do not hold much stock in
Realism or continuity.
This makes them feel,
When she holds them,
As of she is holding on to
A curiosity
Or bit of ephemera from a bygone age.
They should not exist, and yet they do:
Hardbound collections of words strung together in an order so peculiar that they simultaneously make perfect sense and no sense at all.
Like fish with wings.