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32 posts from December 2006

December 22, 2006

Thank You Graham

Thank You Graham!

A big thank you to Graham over at Crime Spot, who's done a fabulous job for a lot of mystery bloggers this year!

The Lipstick Chronicles is proud to join other bloggers in toasting Graham today.

December 21, 2006

Recreational Christmas Shopping

By Nancy

When my husband and I dropped off our oldest daughter at college, the two of us bawled the whole way from New York City to the Pennsylvania border.  Our baby! Off to college! Faraway in the big city!

When we got home, I was pretty down for several days, I must admit. Our younger daughter was still at home, in high school, but it didn't seem fair to burden her with how sad I was, so I kept it to myself.

But one day, I couldn't stand it anymore.  I was trying to write a book and cope with the loss of my kid, and I was a mess.  So what did I do?

I went shopping.           

I went to the biggest mall I could find, and I blew several hundred dollars--money better spent on paying the tuiton bill!--on stuff to perk up the house. A new vase for the living room. A set of candle sticks for the mantel. New curtains for a bathroom. And I forget what else, but it's around here somewhere--probably in storage because we've moved and it was all stuff I really didn't need to begin with, but it called out to the grieving parent inside me.

Retail therapy. It's shopping to improve one's mood.

Like just about everyone else--judging by the traffic jams around here lately--I've been doing a little shopping. I hit a couple of malls, Sam's Club (their filets of beef are terrific, and you can't beat the price, so please don't tell me they come from Argentina where the cows are mistreated) and some specialty stores in search of a few gifts. And what's not to enjoy? The familiar, upbeat Christmas carols put a smile on nearly everyone's face. The kids lined up in front of Santa's photo kiosk are fun to watch. The false cameraderie of strolling with fellow shoppers feels almost like being together with friends. And buying gifts--always a pleasure, right?

But I can't help noticing the person I'm really buying for is . . . me.

Sure, I've got a list and I've checked it twice, but if I see something I like, I can't restrain myself. It's on sale! 30% off!  I might need those sandals next summer for a picnic! And I can't pass up a sweater that's in My Color, can I?  I've always wanted a trifle dish (it's so close to a cake stand, yet not!) and the price at Williams-Sonoma looked reasonable, so I grabbed it.

Admit it. Are you shopping for yourself--just a little bit--while you're at the mall?

A couple of years ago, my family decided we were all getting out of control with the holiday shopping. And buying gifts for so many people was literally making our elderly relatives sick. So we hit upon the idea of exchanging names. And the only gift we're allowed to give each other is a book. One book, that's it.  That's all the shopping your supposed to do. It's a decision that has transformed the holidays for us. Even the couple of family members who aren't big readers get books.--Coffee table books, travel guides, cartoon compediums, audio books.

Let me tell you, everyone is so much happier.  Christmas has truly returned to being a time to be together as a family, to enjoy each other without the stress of buying a lot of junk nobody needs and probably doesn't want. Mind you, we eat like kings, but a walk around the reservoir is much better than cleaning up a mountain of torn wrapping paper after an orgy of consumerism.

But despite the book exchange, I still need to get a few little things for non-family members. A gift for the housekeepers. Something for my daughter's boyfriend. And Jeff's family still exchanges gifts, so we need to buy stuff for them. And who can pass up a few new tree ornaments? Not to mention the latest invention to make life easier? (This year, it's the hands-free can opener.)

Yet I manage to come home from shopping with something for myself every time I leave the house, too.

The most crowded department of our Macy's is the women's clothing section. And the ladies all leave lugging bags big enough to carry gear for a weekend safari in Kenya, so you can't tell me they're all buying presents for Aunt Mildred.

Last year while supposedly looking for the perfect gift for my mother-in-law, I found the perfect set of Christmas earrings for me at Filene's. When I came home and opened my jewelry box, I discovered I already owned a pair. In the haze of my shopping euphoria, I had forgotten I owned them.

Men are suseptible, too. Sure, they make fun of us for buying earrings we already own, but they're buying anything electronic. This year, they're snapping up $2000 flat screen televisions and gadgets that will enable them to communicate with other planets. In a nearby town a few years ago, there was a place of business--strategically located between a big mall and a bedroom community--where a gentleman could pause after shopping.  He could drive up to a shuttered window, insert a $10 bill (presumably saved when he found a bargain on his mom's gift) and the curtains would roll up from inside. Without leaving the comfort of his toasty-warm car, he could enjoy a woman dancing in panties and pasties. Climax One did the lion's share of their business during the two weeks before Christmas. So a lot of men were buying a little something for themselves while they were shopping.

There's plenty of advice out there for those of us making too many impulse buys.

But the best advice, experts say, is to leave your credit cards at home.  Hahahahahahahahaha!

Instant gratification. I'm all for it. 

But lately I've been asking myself the same question I'm asking the characters in my current book:  What makes you feel loved?

Maybe having a few friends over to share a plate of cookies is better this holiday season---for my January credit card bill and my own well-being.

Enjoy the holidays.           

PS.  A big thank you to Graham over at Crime Spot, who's done a fabulous job for a lot of mystery bloggers this year!

December 20, 2006

Dating Christmas

By Elaine Viets

I have boxes of Christmas ornaments. But they’re missing something.

I didn’t realize what was missing until I went to Chris and John’s tree-trimming party.

The couple had a bare-branched seven-foot pine strung with twinkle lights set up in the living room. Sitting on a card table were battered boxes of family ornaments cushioned in cotton and tissue paper.

On each ornament was a date. The year was neatly written in pen or pencil, etched into crystal, or in one case, needlepointed. That date made all the difference. It triggered a different memory for Chris as she unpacked each ornament.

"1983," she said, unwrapping a tiny Teddy bear. "That’s when the boys were babies." Her smile said that was a happy time in her life.

"1989. That was the year I needlepointed ornaments for all my boys’ teachers. I only did that once."

We didn’t need the year for the ornament that looked like a disco ball: It was clearly from the 1970s. Chris pulled out a painted sailboat from the 1980s. A seashell from a Key West vacation in 1990.

Junk hung beside art, but all were treasured.

Chris brought out some yellowing paper disks. "Those are from 2000," she said. "The year of my divorce. My life was so different then. It was too painful to put up my usual tree with all the reminders of our old life. Not that year. Instead, I tied red ribbons all over the tree, cut out these paper circles and asked the boys to write what they were thankful for on the circles. You’d be amazed what boys were thankful for at age18: ‘clean underwear’ and ‘Coors beer.’"

By 2005, the sad paper was replaced with pretty bisque china. "That was the year I married John," Chris said.

After that, the years were commemorated with quirky items, many with a Florida theme: shimmering glass bells, a pop-eyed puffer fish, a starfish Santa.

It took three hours to unpack the ornaments and go through them year by year. A hairy ornament that had been batted around by the family felines for fifteen years was hung on the lower branches for the current cat. Antique glass and twisted gold wire ornaments, German Santas and seashell angels all had their place on their tree.

The dates gave them a place in time: "That’s when we went to . . . that’s when the boys said. . . . That was the year that . . ."

When the tree was finished, we toasted it with eggnog and mulled wine.

"Look at that," Chris said. "It’s a wonderful tree."

"It’s a wonderful life," we said.

Happy Holidays.

December 19, 2006

Expensive Gift + Wife = Sex

By Sarah

For my birthday on Sunday, Charlie bought me the best present ever: a 1999 BMW M3 convertible in titanium silver with low mileage. It is exactly what a 44-year-old woman needs after a lifetime of M3 driving practical Hondas (and perhaps a couple clunker VWs). It is super fast and super sexy. I've longed for a BMW convertible for years and, baby, this delivers.

There's really not much more to say about the M3 except that it's rear-wheel drive, which means I have to wait until the ice is gone to really take it out. Also, that I plan on making myself known to the police, if you get my drift, and that, apparently, I am to, in perpetuity, provide certain sexual favors in repayment. (Repayment?)

Which brings me to the heart of my blog, one which we women would do well to remember this holiday season and that is this - men operate on a very simple mathematical formula, an equation so fundamental that it rivals e=mc2. And should women not obey the laws of this physical theorem, the world, as we know it, will cease to exist.

Resolved: expensive gift + wife = guaranteed sex.

Diamond There is no deviation, no exception to this rule in men's minds. It is pure crystallized fact. It is why the diamond ad, "Tell Her You'd Say Yes All Over Again,"  decoded really means, "Tell Her Why She Has to Say Yes on Wednesday Night."

Your parents knew this. All those Christmases when Dad was surprising Mom with gold earrings or diamond tennis bracelets, perhaps (in the good ole days) a luxurious, supple mink, he and she both understood the ramifications inherent in her acceptance. In taking this gift, she ______ (mother's name here) agreed to provide to _________(father's name here) the act of sex and the derivations thereof at the times and places of his choosing, no questions asked. I don't have the exact wording since the original contract is very hard to find. I'm sure you can dig it up on the Internet.

Not that there's anything wrong with marital relations. Heavens! God invented them Himself, didn't He? What God has put together, let no Tiffany necklace tear asunder and all that. It's merely that I find this phenomenon so interesting because - and I might be wrong about this - I'm not sure it operates in the reverse.

Do women think: expensive gift + husband = guaranteed sex? Hmm. I'm guessing it's more like expensive gift + husband = man out of my hair. OR, in cases where a wife might be a little slick with the Visa, expensive gift + husband = Trip to Marital Counselor.

Now some so-called "feminists" might find the idea of material goods being traded and bartered for sex abhorrent. Whore being the key root word there. There is only one explanation for this reasoning. These women (and, to be fair, the few wimpy men who also call themselves feminists) are simply poor at math.

The thing is, while this formula is concrete in men's minds, a kind of happy rule they can count on in a frighteningly unpredictable world, they might do well to consider more affordable corollaries that also add up to guaranteed sex. Those being:

- doing the dishes without being asked

- listening to said wife discuss problems while simply nodding and not offering any advice, merely consoling hugs and tea.

- coming home with groceries and a fast and easy recipe for dinner that doesn't involve a) potato Jerky chips on tuna casserole or b) imaginative uses for beef jerky

- drawing her a bath, rubbing her back and discussing, seriously, what makes Mr. Darcy so hot.

Sure, these are a hell of a lot cheaper than foreign sports cars or diamond bracelets, but they require work and lots and lots of time. Time only men who call themselves feminists can spare. So, bring on the bling, boys. Pop out that credit card and follow your instincts. We don't care. Besides, we love you and we look so much prettier in sapphire earrings, don't you think? Or do you like the rubies?

Charlie_hunk_001_2 As for Charlie? I'd like to point out that long before he bought the car, he had earned his "guaranteed sex status" by suffering through months of whining about my manuscript, by reading a first draft and  by discussing it all the way to Montreal for our birthday celebration. (That's right - we have the same birthday, a quirk border patrol found very amusing. In case anyone cares, I bought him a Barbour to replace an old one a girlfriend had given him 20 years ago and, no, I was not thinking sex except that I was glad he still wasn't having it with her.)

Happy Holidays!



December 18, 2006

The Blood Man

by Harley

Two weeks ago, I took some routine blood tests. I flunked one. I took it again—it’s called a PTT—and flunked again. “I’d like you to see a hematologist,” my doctor said. “A blood man.”

A blood man!

My Aunt Marie, back in Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania), had a guy come to her house every Monday to draw her blood. He’d show up at 5:30 a.m., walk upstairs to Aunt Marie’s bedroom, get the blood, then show himself out. This never bothered Aunt Olga and Aunt Therese, who lived with Aunt Marie, because they’d all just turn off their hearing aids. But if you were sleeping over on Sunday, the Aunts would say, “When you hear someone stumbling around in the dark, don’t worry—it’s just the Blood Man.” I guess he had his own key.

So now I have my own Blood Man, in Tarzana (California). I drove over, we chatted about coagulation, poison, murder, Rasputin and the Russian Revolution, I gave some blood, he told some jokes. He said to call in a week.

But four days later, his nurse calls. “The doctor wants to see you. He needs to go over something he can’t do on the phone.” Great. I have 730 holiday cards to mail and 96 gluten-free gingerbread men to make, but the Blood Man calleth, so to Tarzana I goeth.

This time, I notice the sign on Dr. Blood’s office: Hematology/Oncology.

Oncology? I always confuse oncology with ontology, which means Dr. Blood is either into metaphyics or cancer. I get a chill up my spine.

In the waiting room, I look at the other people. Frankly, they do not look well. Or happy. One senior citizen has his shirt off. I wonder how at home I’d have to feel in a crowded waiting room to sit there topless.

After forty minutes, Dr. Blood escorts me to his office. He closes the door. Not a good sign. On his desk is a half-eaten submarine sandwich, with visible teeth-marks. The doctor has a seat, not behind the desk, but next to me. Also not a good sign. He wants to be nearby, I think, to catch me in case I faint at what he’s about to say.

I stare at his desk. “Ham sandwich,” I think. “The last thing I see before learning the party’s over.” I remember Dan, my best friend from high school, who, in a similar situation, just blurted out, “How long have I got?” (As it turned out, Dan had eight months.)

“Want some sandwich?” the doctor asks.

“I’m a vegetarian,” I whisper.

He answers the phone. I study his face. A craggy face, wrinkled from delivering bad news. He hangs up the phone.

I blurt out, “How long have I got?”


“Am I dying?”

“No,” he says. “You have Factor 12 Deficiency Syndrome.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means you’ll always have abnormal PTT tests.”

“That’s it?” I ask.


He whips out a yellow legal pad, draws the kind of diagrams that always put me to sleep in high school chemistry, explains how blood works, then gives me a letter (available upon request) saying that despite being a Factor 12 deficient, I have thick blood. Well, thick enough. Thicker than water, anyway. (Congratulations on your Coagulation!)

My husband still doesn’t understand why I had to drive to Tarzana to find out I’m fine, but the truth is, I’d walk to Wilkes-Barre to hear that, barring some freak accident and even if there are no gingerbread men in my life this year . . .

[cue music: I WILL SURVIVE by Gloria Gaynor]

Happy Monday!

December 17, 2006

Fired Before Christmas

It's always sad when a person loses her job right before the holidays, don't you think?  Or not.  Our Link of the Week.

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December 16, 2006

Heart of Tartness Online Recipe Exchange

Welcome to our First Annual Online Goodie Exchange!

We don't have the techonology to actually exchange cookies and cheesecake and ginger bread houses - YET - so we're doing it by exchanging recipies.

Any and all recipes are welcome as long as they are, to quote the great Dick Button, luscious.

And I like tofu as much as the next gal, but this is strictly the stuff that might be bad but tastes so good you don't care.

We interrupt this Goodie Exchange for an urgent gingerbread update!

Michele here to report that the gingerbread house is making good progress.  What?  You thought it would be done by now?  It's only been a week since I started!  Roofing and all other exterior work are now completed.  The farmhouse pattern cried out for white walls, so I applied exterior paint in the shade Royal Icing.  Hershey's famous windows and doors were used, as well as many fine peppermint and gumdrop roofing materials. Lanscaping is slated to begin this weekend.

A record in pictures:

Dsc03379 Dsc03386 Dsc03389

Now back to our regularly scheduled Goodie exchange.

So let's see your favorites - I need to make a grocery list!

December 15, 2006

Funny Girls

Funny Girls

By Rebecca the Bookseller

You know, there are little pesty, pesky things everywhere. Usually, we just ignore them – which is good, because they’re not worth our time or energy. But sometimes a little pest just becomes too much of an irritant and it has to be eliminated.

Such is this week’s dilemma created by a pesky little man who is probably too old for therapy and too stubborn to just get the Viagra prescription refilled. Or maybe it’s just that 80 Proof and Cialis work at cross-purposes. This can make a little pest very cranky.

Anyhoo, a venerable publication that recently bore the image of a pop icon in his underwear on its cover published a pesky article in which it is alleged that “Women are not funny.” But wait – apparently some women are funny, except they are dismissed because they are either fat, Jewish or lesbians. Those weren’t the pesky words. Those are my words, but the message is the same.

Oh, poor pesky man, will you never learn? Put down the Cutty Sark for a moment.

Why am I talking about this? Because we, the Tarts, are women and we are funny. Granted, we have some fat and some Jewish among us, so maybe, in Peskyland, that cancels out the whole lot of us. Regardless, it needed to be said. Moreover, other female members of the TLC community are very funny as well. Don’t know about their sexual, religious or fatness orientation. Don’t care.

Norah Ephron, a very funny lady herself, blogged about this on The Huffington Post, and there is even a contest over there to see who can make Pesky Man laugh. I’ll bet if I let him get all liquored up and then made a movie of me kicking him in the nuts and dressing him up like a woman and making bathroom jokes while pulling public pranks, once he got out of the hospital, he’d laugh himself sick. Oops, too late.

One theory floating around is that women are too nice to be funny. Now that is funny. Everyone knows it’s the lioness who runs the enforcers in the jungle. Govern yourself accordingly.

Another theory is that women are just not comfortable in front of an audience. Hmmm. Any woman who has ever given birth at a teaching hospital will tell you that when you are focused, it doesn’t matter how big the crowd is.

Look, anyone can be funny – here’s a joke – say it out loud and it’s so dumb, you will be funny:

Why did the chicken cross the playground?
To get to the other slide.

No? OK, I asked Margie for one of her clean jokes and this is what I got:

What’s the difference between a girlfriend and a wife?
30 pounds.
What’s the difference between a boyfriend and a husband?
30 minutes.

Moving on. We were talking about the premise that women are not funny.

Basically, I just don’t buy it. Period. In fact, except for my husband and son, most of the funniest people I know are women. They just don’t tend to leave their families or their chosen careers to take their show on the road. When we have a Girls’ Night Out, like we’re doing tonight, we laugh so hard that many of us are still sore the next day. We may not be constantly amused by a flatulence joke, but we know funny when we hear it. And we laugh easily too, when we’re together like that. Maybe because we don’t have a thousand other things pulling at us and distracting us from the clean rush of making eachother crack up.

Bottom line, one of the things that brings me the greatest personal joy is making people laugh, or even smile. Especially someone who doesn’t otherwise have much to laugh about. But that is not an easy thing – no Benny Hill or Three Stooges or Jackass Show bit is going to do that. You have to be smart – you have to be good with words - you have to know the person you’re playing for. You have to think; you have to be quick; and sometimes you really have to work for it. But ahhh - when you make that person laugh, well, there’s nothing like it. So for all of the Pesky People out there who think we’re not funny – that’s okay. You obviously just don’t warrant having any of us as your friends.

You can pick that bottle back up now.

December 14, 2006

Cheap and Easy Writing Avoidance Techniques 101: Holiday Decorating

by Nancy Martin

Quick! If you had to kill someone using a weapon from the room around you, what would you choose?

Me, I'd pick the lead crystal reindeer that is regally poised like Bambi's father on the edge of my desk. His antlers could puncture the skull of a home invader, I'm pretty sure.

Yes, even mystery writers decorate for the holidays.  Sometimes when we're supposed to be writing---or when we're taking a break from reading the Iraq Study Group report which in my opinion is way more compelling that most thrillers out there right now--we're much more happily focused on putting the decorative reindeer on the right table, fastening the pine garland on the staircaise with the perfect gold ribbon, gluing the right rustic combo of dried flowers onto the wreath for the front door.

I'm ashamed to say it, but I'm a frustrated decorator. Especially when I hit a plot snag, I day-dream about dressing my house for the holidays. For inspiration, I have 25 years' worth of Architectural Digests stashed around here and--don't tell my husband, please--several more hundred season-specific magazines in various hiding places.

I am also a sharp-shooter with the glue gun. No kidding, I can out-glue the tag team of Rosie and Martha in a craft competition with one hand tied behind my back with grosgrain ribbon. Naturally, I developed this skill while avoiding my writing. Every December, my determination to get a first draft done wanes and I pull my favorite gun out of its holster to attach all manner of garden refuse onto the cheap Douglas fir wreaths I buy at Lowe's (only $14 for the large size this year!) I prune a few dead hydrangeas, yank some brown stalks of daylily pods--and then I heat up the glue gun.  Voila! The results are gorgeous, if I do say so myself.

Here's the quick and easy hall-decking advice I've accumulated over the years:

Nancy's #1 Tip:  Turn out the lights. You think I'm kidding?  Things look romantic with the lights down low. The dust bunnies disappear--poof!--and suddenly you've got ambiance on your hands.

#2:  White Poinsettias.  Honestly, you can bunch them on tables, around the staircase, inside the fireplace (mine doesn't function) or just about any corner that needs jazzing up. The small size is only $2.79 at Home Depot, but Lowe's has the medium size for $2.99! How can you go wrong? Plus you can throw them away in January instead of trying to find a way to store them and you won't miss your spring deadline! I take the plants out of the foil and plunk them into white flower pots.  (I now have a collection of white flower pots that could rival Sissinghurst.)

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#3. Baby's breath.  Listen to Aunt Nancy: Go immediately to the floral department of your local grocery store and buy 2 bundles of baby's breath. (I spent $6 at Whole Foods this morning. I could have gotten a better price down the street, but I was in a hurry.  Have I mentioned that spring deadline?) Break off small pieces and tuck them fetchingly into your Christmas tree. Even if you're decorating with ornaments your kids made out of toilet paper rolls, your tree will instantly look elegant.

#4. Pine cones. Most people swear by candles, but every time I hear, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire," I am reminded of my daughter's friend Stephanie who left a candle burning in her bedroom as the whole family bundled off to the junior high Christmas concert, and when they came home there was NOTHING LEFT OF THE HOUSE but a smoldering heap of charred rubble. So I don't use candles. I use pine cones. Little bowls of them all over the place. Very festive, and your insurance agent will thank you. Plus they're free if you live near the woods or don't mind skulking around your nearby city park after dark when the only people around are those who are letting their hyper-active Labrador retrievers off their leashes and they come snuffling through the bushes and scare the pants off you because you think they're police dogs.

#5. Raffia.  Forget paper ribbons and those bags of shiny bows you can buy at Wal-Mart. ($4.99 for the huge size.) Buy yourself a couple of bags of raffia ($3.99 each at Jo-Ann Fabrics) and tie it raffishly (there must be some etymological relationship, right?) around your packages that have been wrapped in some plain foil paper. The juxtaposition of textures is GORGEOUS.  And isn't the use of the word "juxtaposition" an indication that I haven't abandoned my writing entirely?

#6. Cake stands.  Yes, I'm obsessed with cake stands. They average $25 at Target, but I check TJ Maxx every once in a while and find bargains under $15.  It's nice to have a variety of shapes and heights.(I'm still looking for a square one.) If you arrange buffet foods on cake stands of different heights, you can overlap them and fit more dishes on the table, plus it's elegant even when you haven't had time to bake and are serving those chocolate-dipped Oreos ($2.99 a package at your local grocery) which you can microwave for 5 seconds and sprinkle with--uh--sprinkles. A great cocktail party hors d'oeuvres is white pizza.  Have I mentioned this already?  It's my secret weapon. (Prices vary, but Pizza Hut makes a nice thin crust version.) Cut the pie into small squares and stick a frilly toothpick into each piece.  Add an olive and/or some freshly grated parmesan if you want people to really gush about how hard you worked.  Just be sure to phone your order at least an hour before your guests show up so you have time to hide the box.

#7. An extra table in your dining room makes life easier.  I hauled our round plastic picnic table (on sale for $19.99 at Wal-Mart in September, but they may still have some in the garden section) out of the garage and tucked it into the corner of the dining room. A 90-inch round tablecloth ($32 on sale with coupon at Bed Bath and Beyond) reaches the floor and hides the plastic legs so your guests can imagine there's a fine piece of Ethan Allen's best under the cloth. If you don't want to invest in a 90-inch tablecloth, go to Party City or whatever store sells banquet or wedding supplies in your area and pick up a plastic table skirt. ($3.99 in my town.) You can use any size tablecloth you already own to throw over it, but Sears has some peppermint candy striped 70' rounds that are only $8.99. A well-draped table makes a great hiding place for all your outline notes and that dry-erase board you use for plotting, especially when your annoying neighbor drops in to delivery her yucky fruitcake and to flirt with your husband again.

#8. Yeah, okay, so all the TV shows tell us to accessorize our little black dresses into phenomenal holiday garb, but did you know the Dollar Store or Everything's a Dollar sell cute elf pins and those Christmas ties with the little microchip you squeeze so it plays Jingle Bells?  And they're really only $1! I bought 3 ties for Jeff. Who will bet me $50 he might actually wear them to the bank, and then my Christmas decorations will be free this year?

Plus you could strangle somebody with one of those musical ties, right? Or clonk him over the head with a cake stand?  See, I haven't given up writing entirely for Christmas.

Tell me your cheap and easy decorating ideas.  I can always use more.

December 13, 2006

Girls and Dolls

Girls and Dolls

By Elaine Viets

As I kid, I thought dolls were boring. Dressing them seemed like a waste of time. Hauling them around in a buggy was equally pointless. The dolls didn’t show appreciation, or anything else. They slumped glassy-eyed on my dresser, like a bunch of silent drunks.

Feeding them and changing their diapers was even duller. A baby doll that wet its diaper was the latest in doll technology in the 1950s. I got one for Christmas.

I changed the sopping diapers and wondered what the thrill was. I had little brothers, and nobody enjoyed changing them. Why give me a diaper-wetting doll and call it fun? The only thing I could say for the doll was that it didn’t stink nearly as much as my brothers.

At age six, I got my very own doll kitchen for Christmas, with a miniature oven and a tiny sink where I could wash my little doll dishes with real water.

This was another puzzling present. My mother, like many sensible women, hated housework. So why give me as a Christmas gift her two most hated chores – dishwashing and cooking?

My father noticed right away that I was neglecting my doll duties and kiddie kitchen. The day after Christmas, he sat me down for a serious talk. "You’ve got to play with your dolls, Sis," he said. "You’re a girl. That’s what you’re supposed to do. We spent good money on these presents."

I tried. But I liked my collection of green rubber dinosaurs much better. I admired their outlandish necks and tails and teeth. I enjoyed setting the razor-toothed predators on the peaceful grazers, although sometimes I cheated and let the brontosaurus escape in the back my brother’s Tonka truck. But I had to play that game in the basement. Girls weren’t supposed to like dinosaurs or trucks.

At age six, I knew one thing. Well, two things: I was definitely a girl. And my father was wrong about this doll business. I couldn’t change his mind, so I kept quiet about my doll-hating proclivities.

Until this year, when one of my friends confessed she hated dolls too.

And so did her friends. In fact, there were lots of us doll haters out there. Real women who were real bored with make-believe dolls. And we were perfectly normal. OK, we could pass. Most of the time.

I like Angie’s story best. "I hated dolls," she said. "I played with toy animals, especially farm animals, and used to make little farms out of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs. I did have action figures, Johnny and Jane West. Jane was way superior to Barbie. She had boots, guns, a horse and camping stuff.

"My parents and grandparents didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t like dolls. The only one who did was my well-meaning but terribly prissy great aunt. She’d bring me these pretty little dolls."

Angie ignored them.

"She would get all upset that I never played with them."

One day, great aunt found little Angie playing "frontier family" in the yard. She had the pretty dolls lined up in the cabin.

"I pretended our family dog was a wolf at the cabin. To make the wolf go away, I threw a baby doll at him. It bothered Aunt to no end that I would throw the baby to the wolves to save my own skin."