Thursday, May 17, 2007
Eccentrics Among Us
Yesterday, I visited with my Dear Friend Lisa, a childhood friend that remains in my Inner Circle. (Colorado citizens be warned, as a Heather Friend, you may get dragged around for decades.) There's a gang of us who all grew up together in the same section of SoCal suburbia. Our parents all mostly still live in the same houses with the same phone numbers albeit, on their 20th area code.
Visiting Lisa's Parents House, a flood of childhood memories came back to me when Lisa said: "Would you like to visit The Dolls?" Lisa's family has always been this wonderful collection of folks who are creative, brilliant and quirky. There was the time that Lisa's Mom got tired of yelling at us kids and opted to tape her complaints. We came into the living room one day and heard the boom box on the kitchen table belt out: "Shut up! ..... Knock it off! .... Stop it! ... Be quiet!" Laugh? I thought I'd die. Then there was the other time her dad walked through the living room with a live crow on his head. It was always like visiting the cast of "You Can't Take It With You."
Here's an understatement: Lisa's Mom collects dolls. As a kid, I would rehearse my lines for various school productions to this perfectly still audience of plastic and lace. I still consider them my original fan base - they're not big on feedback but at least the population grows steadily. Lisa's Mom, the rescuer of creatures big and small, is widely known as Snow White, hence the lifelike replica in the family dining room.
This, however, is only the beginning. LM's doll collection has grown beyond my imagination, taking over three major rooms in the house. The living room has several large glass cabinets full of every doll you can imagine - old and new, adorable and creepy, bejeweled and plain. Thousands and thousands - it's overwhelming. One does not know where to look. I mentioned to Lisa's Dad that they could charge admission. "Well, we do charge $5 to get out!" he cracked.
It's really quite something. So many eyes, so many cherubic faces. This one on the left used to freak me out - still does. Playthings should not be so life-like, so happy, so ... so glistening. CREEPY.Mostly however, the collection is highly fascinating. Everyone is represented: Malcom X, Laura Bush, Richard Nixon, Justin Timberlake, not to mention entire casts of long forgotten TV shows.
Please note Paul Stanley, who appears very pouty for a doll with an impressive batch of fake chest hair.
Then there's Knocked Up Barbie, "She's got a real baby (doll) inside too!" LM assured me. There's the expected - Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe - and the unexpected - Spinal Tap, The Monkees and the Matrix cast. I kept thinking of Steve Carrell's character in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" when Seth Rogen says, "You have the 'Six Million Dollar Man's' boss?!?" and he replies, "Yeah, of course. Oscar Goldman."
It all came together when LM pulled up a big box and said: "Remember when Dennis Rodman married himself?" Actually, I had forgotten and maybe never knew to begin with but somebody somewhere made a doll to mark the occasion and LM couldn't wait to get her hands on it.
I was going to get to Lisa's Dad's model airplane/antique toy collection as well but I am exhausted by all this fancy HTML'ing and will present that some other day.
All I can say is, thank god for these people. Boring and predictable they're not. Folks like LM remind me of Dianne Wiest in "Edward Scissorhands" - they may live in neat suburban homes but they've got an appreciation for freaky, an indulgence for the odd. Now, if you will kindly send along $5, that'd be great - I need to find my way out of the living room.