Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wishful thinking/ memories

I once commented that one of my little "escapes" is going to some of the toy-collecting (esp. Pony-themed) tumblrs like Princess Golden Light or Heck Yeah, Pony Scans! (she hasn't updated in a while but I still love the name of that tumblr so much.)

I think these appeal to me for two interlocking reasons: first, it is just stuff that's cute and sweet and innocent and fun to look at. And yeah, I admit, I do sometimes buy Pony Stuff for myself, and I do have the Monster High dolls I bought a year ago (and never sewed any clothing for, and maybe I need to get on that some time this fall. Maybe even repurpose some of my old vintage hankies (especially those with tiny holes or stains I could cut around) into doll dresses). It's an escape. It's also, I think, a similar appeal to dollhouses - it's a tiny world that you control, that you take care of totally.

(Another fun thing: the woman behind Princess Goldenlight is Norwegian (? I think) and the one behind Heck Yeah Pony Scans is in the UK - so you get to see some different things. I admit, with my German learning of late. I have to smile a little when someone posts the packaging from a toy and it says "Mein Kleines Pony" on it. (and is the Magritte version of that "Mein Kein Pony"? Yeah, I know it's not grammatical but "kein" is one way of saying "not" in, "this is not a pony." Yeah, funnier without the explanation).

The innocence is a big thing for me. Being able to think about a time when I didn't have a career to worry about, or have to deal with some of the uglier aspects of gossip in life, or money woes, or politics, or anything like that.

But the other thing, is I do have memories of some of those toys in their first run. No, I didn't have any of the early-generation My Little Ponies - in those days, it was mostly "brushables," which didn't appeal to me, and I felt like I was maybe a little old for them. But I still liked stuffed animals and I admit I secretly wanted a Grumpy Bear when the Care Bears came out, but never expressed that desire because I was a late-tween and Care Bears seemed sort of babyish. (Then again: the woman across the street waited in line for HOURS to get Cabbage Patch Dolls for her kids, one of whom was a boy my age)

But I do remember going to the toy stores ("Children's Palace," which I guess is now a defunct chain, was the one nearest us) and being able to roam the aisles of them. I had very little spending money - I received a TINY allowance as a child and I had to save for months to buy even a fairly small toy - but being able to LOOK at what was on offer was fun. (And there were other places: Gold Circle and BEST and a number of other places, most of which are gone. Where are the variety stores of yesteryear?).

Once in a while I got to pick something out: I remember for my tenth birthday getting a toy that was three toy squirrels (a father, mother, and son) that "lived" in a fabric hollow log with a few pieces of small furniture for them. That was my choice and it was fun getting to go to Children's Palace and be told, "You can buy anything up to X dollars" and then finding what I wanted most.

I also remember looking at the toys were early lessons in copycats and knockoffs: when Miss Piggy was a huge star to kids, several other toy companies came out with lines of, shall we say, zaftig-animal dress-up-toys: I remember a hippo, for example. And I'm sure that's when many of what collectors now call the "fakie" Ponies originated.

I did buy a FEW things. I still liked stuffed animals and felt that they were not TOO babyish to have. (I remember doing the dishes EVERY NIGHT for a month - not normally my chore - to earn a stuffed rabbit that was a copy of Hazel from the cartoon adaptation of Watership Down). And I eventually bought the first-gen Strawberry Shortcake because.....I don't know. I think part of it was I was 12 or 13 and was desperately wanting to hang on to the good stuff of childhood - the imaginative stuff, the fun of playing with toys, the innocence of the whole mythology that toy lines like hers (and the various copycats like Herself the Elf) created. And I was extremely doubtful about adolescence. (Based on my experience, at least in my early years of it, I was right to be dubious).

And I wonder if my tendency to want to buy toys (especially small stuff like the blindbag ponies, which would be something I would not have "thrown my money away on" when I was a kid, or at least would have been encouraged not to by my more-frugal parents) is related to not having had much allowance as a kid (and I confess, being slightly envious of kids with bigger allowances, or who got things like $10 for every A they earned, whereas I got As easily and got NOTHING for them. Well, NOTHING tangible.). And maybe it's also an attempt to go back to that pre-adolescence time when things seemed easier and simpler and more innocent. (I tend to think of my 13th year as "the fall" - that's when a lot of the bad stuff happened, that's when I kind of got lost for a few years).

No comments: