The Mean Doll, Part I: The Original

This begins the story of the Mean Doll (so named by my toddler). It’s probably also one of the projects that my friends have dubbed the creepiest, likely due to the involvement of disembodied doll heads sitting on shelves. But I’m getting ahead of myself– the story begins a long time ago…

Back when I was about ten years old, I collected porcelain dolls. They were a lot more popular back then, and were available in all stationery stores and most department stores, invariably dressed in some impractically lacy outfit and usually on shelves too high for children to reach. There was even a kiosk in my local mall that just sold dolls, and every time we went shopping I would spend a good hour (at least) hovering around, looking at the dolls, making a nuisance of myself, and planning which doll I would buy once I got my anticipated Christmas money. At the time I liked to think that I was keeping the salesgirl company, but in retrospect I was probably really annoying. Anyway, I decided on a small doll with dark hair and blue eyes– she came with her own wooden wardrobe, three extra outfits, and two pairs of shoes. I’d never had a porcelain doll with changes of clothes before, and I liked the idea, even though the doll itself wasn’t actually all that pretty or cute. It was totally just the clothes that I wanted, I know…

Christmas came, I collected my loot, and happily went to the kiosk, intent at last on spending some money there instead of just hanging around. But then I had a moment of doubt. Why buy the doll if it wasn’t even that pretty? My display area didn’t have room for a wooden wardrobe. And what about that other doll in the corner with the cute face and curly hair– wasn’t she prettier? I ended up buying the curly-haired doll instead (she was dressed as a cowgirl, if I recall correctly), and leaving the original doll and her wardrobe behind.

And I regretted it.

But eventually I grew up. And got a job. And disposable income. And as all adults do at some point, I set out to purchase “the toy that got away.” Except it’s really difficult to find a particular porcelain doll when you don’t know the manufacturer, the name given to the doll, or really anything other than the eye and hair color and the fact that she had an accordion-pleated dress and a maroon velvet coat as part of her wardrobe (I distinctly remembered those two items).

But eBay is a wonderful thing. And wonder of wonders, I actually found the doll! And she had her whole wardrobe, just as I’d remembered it! And she was priced at about 1/3 of the original price I remembered! So I snapped her up, eagerly awaited the arrival of the box in the mail, was very excited to open it up, and… the doll was just as un-cute as I’d remembered. My 2-year-old daughter took one look and dubbed it “the mean doll.” (though to be fair, she thought all porcelain dolls were scary at the time)

small doll face small doll

Yup, the doll really wasn’t all that pretty and I was kind of regretting the purchase, since now I had this mediocre doll and her bulky wardrobe of clothes (which didn’t even fit all that well) sitting in my house and scaring my toddler. At this point, most people would’ve chalked it up to experience, given the doll away, and gone on to lead normal, productive lives. Not me. Oh, no– I was still fixated on having a porcelain doll with her own tiny wardrobe. And if this one wasn’t it, then I was going to make one! Even if this doll wasn’t that cute, there were other 12″ porcelain dolls in the world, and they were easily findable and buyable on eBay…

Next up: The Replacement.

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