the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson




P: Also, I remember playing one game with Anthony, with some dolls he had. Where I was doing the you part.

S: You mean being the boss?

P: Yeah, being the boss. And having all the better ideas. I think I only did that once. But it was like my first experience of Shelleyness, which I never got enough of because I never cultivated Anthony as my younger partner. Which now seems like an oversight. Should have done that.

S: I remember you playing games with Anthony a few times. But I thought they were sort of dumb games. I don’t remember resenting you for them, but–I can’t remember if I conspired with you in this, but I remember intervening in the doll games that you had with Anthony in a malicious way to hang the dolls by the neck until dead. Which is interesting because I would never have done that in our own games. Because the dolls were kind of alive to us. But I was exploiting my grown-up knowledge that the dolls were actually just dolls and couldn’t really die in order to torment Anthony and see if he would actually cry.

P: That’s so horrible! But what I was saying was that probably the games I would have come up with on my own would have been—like the games I played with Anthony—really different. And I just don’t know what I would have come up with. The ones I remember—they were not dumb games, they were action games. They were boy games. Our games were girl games.

S: They were not girl games, they were nasty games!

P: They were nasty girl games.

S: But there were adventures in them too, it’s just that—

P: Ha ha, I snatched the microphone away. There were less and less adventures, though, by the time I played the games with Anthony.

S: [reluctantly] That may be true.

P: Our games were more boy games early on than they were later on. Then they were girl games. Nasty girl games.

S: But just because they were about relationships doesn’t mean they were just girl games. They were moral studies.

P: Well, war genres and cowboy genres are also moral studies. But they tend to be boy ones.

S: But those are also about relationships, it’s just that they are more about buddy relationships.

P: Right, but I just meant the love relationships center of our games was—girly.

S: [reluctantly] Okay...

P: Not to put us down or anything.

S: Well we did develop a boring kind of plot, a sort of catalog style plot, which I think of as including the interminable Christmas game with all the presents from everybody to everybody, and the beauty contests—not that we played normal beauty contests, but the prince having to choose the most beautiful woman in the land kind of contests, which also went on and on while we dressed up the various dolls, and—what else?

P: The poetry contest and art contest games, which were so boring because we had to actually write everything, and our heroes had to be so exemplary.

S: Right, and again there were lots of characters doing the same thing and then being judged.

P: Yeah. But—I think at that point we were doing something else. The doll games were filling some other function than when they were adventure stories.