It’s Not A Phobia If It’s Rational

I don’t like dolls. I’m not going to freak out around your Barbie, but if you’ve got one of those old-timey, eyes shut when you lower it, hair like Firestarter dolls, then I’m not going to stay in the same room with it. It’s that simple. My semi-pediophobia comes from a very real place, and once you know about it, you can’t deny the fact that I have every reason in the world to be terrified of dolls.

I’ve written about my grandmother’s Peter and Patti Playpal dolls before. In that case, even Cool Chris was petrified of the damn things, and not just because they were three feet tall and living in a trunk.

What’s tempting is to just toss a picture of Peter and/or Patti right here in this entry, so you can be just as shocked to see the creepy doll. But to tell you the truth, I can’t handle the doll picture living on forever. So I’ll just give you a link.

Gramma used to say that Patti playpal looked just like me. And the day she pulled that little girl out of the attic by her hair? We were the same size. Dammit, now that I found her… she does look a little like me.

But creepy! See! So creepy. Even the description for that doll is creepy: “She looks so real, with her head tilted and her blue eyes gazing at you inquisitively – she’s probably wondering why you haven’t invited her home yet!” So she can slice your throat open when you sleep. [That sentence could also describe a puppy at a pound or a stripper on a pole.]

Okay, so those were the dolls that started it all. But Gramma, who collected lots and lots of creepy dolls, would send the ones she found unique to us. Now Gramma was twisted, so what was unique and cute to her was often horrifying and/or inappropriate to us. Mom would always go through the box first to remove any item that would have a curse word or a naked lady or… here, read this.

So Gramma would send dolls, and one time she sent the scariest doll of all time. Of all time.


Did you click it? Did you see how it has three faces? Three different faces, and one is all sad and one stares into your soul and the other one is pretending to be asleep while it figures out how to kill your entire family?

Mine had more exaggerated expressions. The cranky face on my doll looked like the thing was being tortured. There was a tiny tear running down its face. And the sleepy face had its eyes half-open, like it was brain-dead, or hypnotized. The happy face was way too happy. Manson happy.

My doll had a porcelain head, which means if you tried to hug it, or accidentally dropped your baby on your face while you were playing with it, you’d get a huge knot on your forehead. But I didn’t want to play with it. It had three faces, and you spun the baby’s head around and I already had a thing about The Exorcist from a babysitter letting me seeing it when I was too young.

The doll has three faces! Do you understand why this is a horrible thing and nobody should make a doll that has two faces hiding in a bonnet right next to the one frozen face that’s staring at you?

I used to hide that doll at the top of my dresser, in a corner, where I couldn’t see it. Sometimes Mom would find it and put it out on display again, because apparently the doll was worth money and was some kind of collectible, which is the only reason I never took it out back and smashed its three faces in. But when Mom would put the doll out again, she didn’t warn me that she put the doll out again, so I was a little convinced the doll was able to crawl and reposition itself in my room, high above where I could reach, just to stare at me all night long.

My three-faced doll was sometimes dressed in my Christening outfit.

When I finally packed up all of my dolls when I was too old to have them? That little bitch went to the bottom of the box. She’d have to fight her way past all my Cabbage Patch Kids to get out alive.

I’m creeping myself out. I’ll finish the story.

So this week’s episode deals with dolls. And I knew going in that it would be scary. In fact, the other writers find my distaste for dolls rather amusing, and there are jokes in the script accordingly. But they had no idea how much I wasn’t kidding. I had told them about Peter and Patti Playpal, and even pulled up their pictures on the Internet. They thought I was being a little irrational, I’m sure.

The other day we go down to the stage to watch a run-through, and I’d forgotten all about the dolls. I just forgot they’d really be there, on the set. Lots of dolls. Lots of old dolls. Dolls like my grandmother collected.

And there they were.

Again, I’d forgotten about them, so at first glance I immediately spun back around, the breath knocked out of me. Too many dolls. Like, fifty of them, all different sizes and costumes and ethnicities, staring at me with their cold, dead, bird eyes.

“Shit, I forgot about the dolls.”

Someone’s chuckling at me. “You okay?”

“I don’t think she was kidding about the dolls.” He hooks a thumb at me as he calls to another writer, “Look at this one over here.”

I try to play it cool, looking into my script, wishing for this scene to hurry up and be over. But it hasn’t started yet. There are easily fifty people all around, and any of them would stop these dolls from attacking my face. Well, most of them would. Some would let it happen, because it’d be pretty funny.

So then I hear the prop master say, “I was thinking about this one for the beginning.”

I look up, and I shit you not, that man is holding a three-faced baby by the knob of the head, spinning it, and it’s wearing something that looks an awful lot like my Christening gown and I take all of this into my brain in less than a second before I involuntarily, purely by instinct and gut terror, screech and run. I just start running. I don’t even know where I’m going, but I can hear myself yelling, “I used to have that doll!”

I had to walk back, but my face was red and I was trembling and I can’t believe of all the fucking dolls in the world, Mr. Proppy had to go find the three-faced doll of my childhood nightmares. Why not march Peter and Patti in right behind, dude?

And I’m at my job, which means you aren’t supposed to:

A) Run
B) Screech
C) Turn red and hyperventilate
D) Act like a huge baby because of a prop

But I did. And I really wanted to be anywhere but next to that doll. I squeezed myself between two tall writers and kept my face on the script. The doll makes me so uncomfortable. I don’t want to be anywhere near it. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want it to exist.

So anyway, I have to walk back and everybody’s looking at me and this is the moment when they probably understood that my fear of dolls isn’t an attention-getting ploy. It isn’t an irrational fear because of a movie (like how everybody my age is scared of clowns because of Poltergeist). I had a three-faced doll. I buried it. And it came back. You guys. It came back.

And it’s even possible that it is the same doll, because I think I got rid of Trinity (as one co-worker has named it) when I lived in Palm Springs, so I would have been about ten. Given the rate at which a doll can crawl, combined with the fact that it can only move under the cover of night, I’d say it’d take about twenty years to get from a hotel in Palm Springs to a movie lot in Burbank. That sounds about right, doesn’t it?

So now I get teased even more, and people take great pleasure in springing scary doll pictures on me. I even caught two of them scheming to put Trinity in my office after the episode taped. I have to be on guard now. But maybe the constant doll contact will make me get over this fear. All I know is I have to spend many, many hours with these dolls starting tomorrow. For two days I will be trapped in a building with them, and there are way more of them than there are of me.

So if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s not because I’m super busy. It’s because the dolls have kidnapped me and taken me to their tiny, creepy lair.


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