Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Would Your Talking Doll Say?

I'm halfway through a book by Lionel Shriver (a woman writer) called Big Brother. The gist of the story is about a woman who tells her brother he can come stay with her family. She hasn't actually seen him in a few years, and when she goes to pick him up at the airport, she's flabbergasted to realize that he has gained hundreds of pounds. He's hugely obese, almost unrecognizable. She brings him home, and conflict ensues as her type-A husband (a disciplined man who bikes for hours a day and only eats very healthy food) is beyond disgusted by the slovenliness of the brother--who does of course eat a lot, all of the bad food that the husband won't touch. While the story is about the huge size of the brother, and how it's hard not to see fatness as the embodiment of all that's bad (laziness, self-indulgence, lack of control), there's an interesting sub plot that circulates. For a living, the sister been very successful in producing these special dolls that people order in the likeness of someone in the family; the dolls look like the person and they also come with six of ten sayings that characterize the person---the things she says all the time, maybe without even realizing it. This makes me wonder what my ten things would--because, when she lists them out for some of the dolls they've made--you get a very clear picture of the psyche of that individual; what she's obsessed about, or worried about, whether she's honest or judgmental or frightened or angry or preoccupied with her body or whatever.

So, here's a list of the things I think my doll would say (I asked Dan to help me with this. I'll mark his suggestions with an asterick vs. my own perceptions of what I say often):

I don't like it (or, I don't feel like it. Or, I don't want to)*
Look at that dog!
I'm sorry (to strangers, especially when they bump into me).
Will you rub my feet?*
I doesn't matter what I think--what do you think? (I say this to my mom mostly)
I just want to read my book.
Could you slow down, please? (said in the car, whenever anyone else is driving)
Ernesto! I'm going to smash your face off! (said affectionately, but through gritted teeth because he's so smooshable).
Let me think about it and get back to you (at work, when someone wants me to write on the fly).
Do you want me to help you cook that? or What can I do?*(said insincerely, in the kitchen, when Dan is cooking dinner for me every single night).

Those are the things I say out loud, but there are also things I think about frequently, recurring thoughts I have, and those are a little different, and always center around anxiety--things like, I am going to stop eating frosting).

Here are the things I would put in the Dan doll:

I think I have diabetes.
I had a slice of pizza today (said as a confession for his dietary transgressions).
That is incredible (said whenever he eats ice cream or a piece of chocolate).
I'm addicted (said after he's had a spoonful of ice cream or a piece of chocolate).
What color is that traffic light? (which might be the reason for my anxiety in the car).
That is insane.
Does my eye look funny?
I don't care (every time he says this, I think he really means the opposite, but is afraid to say so).
Where did I leave my keys/my phone/my hat?
I missed you today.



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