the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson




S: This resonates with our other flat dolls, the Shrinky Dink dolls, although you can’t call those part of our doll games exactly. They were also flat, completely 2-D, and see through. I don’t know if I’ve written about this somewhere, but that was a key moment in my life, when we realized that we could make these semi-permanent artifacts by drawing naked Shrinky Dink people and then cooking them, and then we could finally have dolls that were as naked as our wildest dreams*, that we could dress up and use in doll games. But then one time—see, we were in the practice of turning our dolls over when the parents came into the room, to hide their clay breasts and penises, but I remember once Bruce came into the bedroom when I was playing with the Shrinky Dink dolls and I quickly turned over the Shrinky Dink doll, and then I realized that because it was completely transparent it looked exactly the same on the other side and I was totally exposed*. And I always thought the Bruce saw it because he made one of those noises like "well" or "hmm"—though mind you he might have made those noises anyway.

P: I can’t believe that the parents wouldn’t have seen our breasts and penises at some point or other.

S: Well, if they had been looking. I think they had a falsely idealized image* of our doll games, because of that one Kiddle game that Babette saw us playing that was all about the Native American and the bad cattle ranchers. And so ever after that she thought we working out these important world issues in our doll games, at a very high level, when really that was a model game and most of our doll games were about sex.

P: Although that was an important issue too. But maybe she had a more subtle understanding of them than we thought she did.

S: We should ask her. Make a note of it.

S: So, what else about the Flatsies? They had long pink and blue hair, as reflected in our later fashion choices as grown-ups. Actually I have never had pink hair, but I have had blue hair. Pamela?

P: Neither.

S: Okay. But I do think those dolls with the varicolored hair lay behind the explosion of rainbow-colored hairs of our maturity. Don’t you think?

P: Really? Were those dolls popular? I have no sense in general from our childhood of which of the things we had were broad cultural phenomena and which were just ours.

S: I know, that’s why it was so weird to discover that there’s a booming collector’s trade in Kiddles.

P: Because we were in such our own private world* in some ways that it wasn’t clear which parts of it were also part of the larger cultural surroundings, or how they fit into it.

S: And we didn’t play dolls with our friends or anything, as far as we knew our friends only played with B*****s. Except those mini Kiddles were on sale at places like Pay n’ Save, so they were obviously around.

P: I don’t remember what we thought of the Flatsies when we got them.

S: We were obsessed when we got them. We thought they were fantastic! Flat dolls, more of them!

P: I had that little girl flat doll already.

S: I’m thinking we got the girl flat dolls in our Christmas stockings one year, and then maybe we demanded the sexy older flat dolls. But we should look into the cultural history of the flat doll.