the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson




P: Do we have anything more to say about the sibling pairs? What about Mara and Melanie?

S: Well, they were identical until you cut Melanie’s hair b’cause you saw a great looking doll* with a short haircut in the free box* that some other girls were stealing before you got to it. Do you remember that?

P: No.

S: You came home all excited and said, "There were these great dolls in the free box that these other little girls were looking at but they took them. But one of them had this short haircut and it looked really good." You were really enthusiastic about the short haircut on the doll, which I was skeptical about, but I encouraged you to do it because I wanted our dolls to be different.

P: That’s weird. I don’t remember that at all. I wonder if I made it up.

S: Really? Why would you make it up?

P: As an excuse to cut her hair.

S: Why would you want to?

P: So that it would be different from your doll.

S: 0h... see generally my understanding of our relationship was that you would probably want everything that I had, and that I would explain to you why something that you had was really good or why something different from what I had was really good, so that you would go for it, when in fact I didn’t like it as much as what I had, so that we would have different things.

P: Right. Well, that worked in general.

S: So I figured that that was probably what happened with the Mara and Melanie thing except you had a bit more impetus of your own to cut her hair than usual.

P: Maybe that really happened, the people getting the great dolls out of the free box. It sounds like something I would have made up, though.

S: How surprising to me!

P: Why?

S: I didn’t know you made things up.

P: I think I was uncertain about what I liked, being able to justify it, if I was striking out on my own like that, so I might have sometimes invented outside-world* forces that would justify me doing something if I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea but I wanted to do it anyway. Or maybe I thought you would say it was a bad idea unless I had some outside evidence to back me up.

S: Huh. Well you definitely told me that story, and I thought, That’s weird, I wonder if it really did look good, because I wasn’t sure I trusted your eye necessarily, but I was still into the idea of you cutting her hair.

P: Maybe I wanted her to look more like Laurie. Because that was my true love.

S: But didn’t Laurie have longish hair? Laurie had romantic curls, didn’t he? Shoulder length, or nape length—I don’t remember very clearly, sadly. He was a beautiful youth* with curly hair.

P: There must be some reason why I wanted short hair. Maybe it was just that I wanted her to look different than Mara.

S: Well I just really liked the tan, panther-like goddess* idea that I had about Mara. I thought of her as this beautiful princess stalking naked and barefoot through the jungle.

P: I think I was unsure whether Melanie was as beautiful as Mara after I cut her hair. I think I did worry about that, because when we got them I might have been beginning to be self-conscious about the power relations of the games.

S: Did you become self-conscious about that?

P: I was starting to be, with Mara and Melanie, in a way that I hadn’t been at all before. Because they were so similar, and I think I started to worry about whether mine was going to be as cool as yours, whether Melanie was going to be as good as Mara or say as good things or be as desirable.

S: Do you mean whether you would be able to make her be that, or whether I would allow her to be that, whether I would refuse to write that into the plot or close her out of the spotlight?

P: I don’t think I was paranoid like that. I think it was me wondering whether I was going to be able to make her as good. Although in specific games there might have been jealousy about which doll was getting more play.

S: It seems like there must have been some, although I really don’t remember that. And it also seems like there must have been some about who worked what doll. Actually I do remember that when we both thought of something good, there would be something like "No let me!" "Let me say it, wait, I know how this should go." But that was more just enthusiasm, and what happened when we came up with competing conceptions of the plot-moment. I don’t think we religiously adhered to "In this game I’m playing Matron and you’re playing Harvey," did we?

P: I don’t know. That’s one of the things I don’t remember, whether we were always speaking for the same people.

S: I think we would tend to, especially when there was a conversation back and forth, but I’m sure that we would be always breaking in, like "No, I think then he should say this."

P: But I bet you never made Melanie do anything and I never made Mara do anything*. Do you think our relation to those dolls was different?