How Do I Love Thee?
(written and read by Christine Larsen, inspired by the prompt word ‘favourite’)
And then someone asked, “But which doll was your favourite? Look at the photo. You’re hugging two of them.”
And I looked. And tried to remember. And couldn’t. Not. One. Single. Doll’s name. Huh?
I blame it all on Ted Bear Esq. – the almost unbearable love of my life. We met when he was new and I was two [shh… I know you’ve heard that line before. What can I tell you? It’s one of my bestiest favourites in my world – just like him], and the love was instant.
I should explain – dolls of that century were not soft and cuddly, or life-like rubbery and flexible. They were celluloid and hard plastic, and they had horrid mechanical joints and gorgeous, trendy and fashionable dresses that demanded they never be creased. I remember one was a bride doll, representing the greatest aspiration for young ladies in those days.
Another was nearly up to my armpit and could walk in stiff, robotic fashion with humongous help from me working her arms, which in turn worked her legs. Delightful… to some. And she could talk. “Ma-ma,” she’d say when you bent her forward. “Ma-ma, Ma-ma.” Dumb broad didn’t sound anything like a child crying for her mother. From my early days there was also this home-made calico job with a drippy face… a kind of painted on one, if I remember right. She was well-worn as far as my dolls went – embraceable in her fashion, I guess -certainly wide open to sucking and slobbering. But still, no real inspirational bonding there, either.
But Ted… my wonderful darling honey-bunch. Always ready for a cuddle – to share a laugh, or faithfully hide secrets and fears. To absorb tears of all varieties – happy or sad, he wasn’t fussed. His empathy was THE most powerful – with never a word, he comforted this small soul. His presence, tightly held within needy arms, soothed all, relaxed all – until sleep and sweet dreams replaced any disquiet. The dreams were, naturally enough, of sunny days in flower-studded meadows, a picnic rug with all manner of treaties spread before us and Ted and I having – wonder of wonders – a Teddy Bear’s Picnic! Interesting that. How you never hear of a dolly’s picnic. Tea parties maybe, but Ted and I were made for greater things, like dreams and sharing secrets and laughter and tears. All the important stuff.
That was over seven decades ago, and whilst he hasn’t shared my bed for the longest time [there’s this fellow called Old McLarsen who strongly objects], he does have prime position in the small chair that was a fifth birthday present. He shares it with a bunch of other characters, and I believe, most nights, he tells his best-loved stories from our past. Haven’t actually heard these, but sometimes when I’m busy creating wordy ‘stuff’ in one of my insomniac hours, I’m sure I hear whispering and giggling from the other room. I’ve tiptoed in to check, but he always hears me coming, and though it only takes moments to get there, you could hear a pin drop when I pop my head around the door.
The assumed innocence on Ted Bear’s face and his glassy-eyed stare don’t fool me.
I’ve known him far too long.