Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Mint -- NRFB
Depression elicits several obsessive compulsive responses in me. When feeling blue, for instance, I am guaranteed to start cleaning the house. Don’t know why, but doing battle with mildew seems like a victory when my life is in shambles.
Issues around food seem to be another major component. Either I stuff myself silly or I simply stop eating all together. No happy medium can be found around eating when I feel down.
Finally, I spend money in totally ridiculous and unhealthy ways. Shopping becomes the most dangerous salve to my wounded soul. Given that I live in a town remote beyond compare, few possibilities exist to spend money in brick-and-mortar stores. On-line shopping, however, has resulted in some bad decision-making on my part. My credit-card balances could easily rival the national debt of some small island. Surfing through on-line auctions, though, temporally stops me from thinking about my sadness. It is also much easier than working on the encyclopedia articles that are still overdue and not even close to completion. So, what insane purchase did I recently make? A 1977 Wonder Woman Doll produced by Mego Corporation.
I have no idea what I will do with Wonder Woman now that I am victorious in my auction battle. Given her Never-Removed-From-Box status, it seems foolish for me to send her out on missions or even change her into her Diana Prince outfits. Nor does she exactly compliment my art-deco furniture.
Obviously, my blog points to an unhealthy fixation on the Amazon Princess. I have a long history, though, with the Mego doll in particular. It was the first toy that I distinctly remember wanting and asking my parents for based on my own interests. My best friend at the time, Ramona, had one of these dolls and it made me green with envy. Mego didn’t skimp in making her super cool, at least for the late seventies. Not only did Wonder Woman come with the tiara (which she used as a boomerang, fyi), the bullet-deflecting bracelets, and the magic lasso, but she also had outfits for her alter-ego, Diana Prince. I wanted one and badly.
This desire for Wonder Woman put me on a collision course with my father. Weeks of pleading did not sway him. “Enough,” he furiously said one day, “Boys do not play with dolls.” When angry, his eyes turned coal black. It was the same anger that he had when he found me playing with my sister’s Charlie’s Angels dolls. I knew he could not be moved. I also knew that any further requests would result in more than stern words.
Many gay men have similar stories about their fathers. A friend of mine went on a Barbie©-binge when he came out of the closet. Having always been deprived of Miss Golden Pinkness, he built a shrine to her in his adulthood. Barbie©, though, never caught my attention. I just wanted that damn Wonder Woman doll.
Even at that young age, my father had made his disappointment with me known. He fully believed and accepted gender divisions. Both before and after the Wonder Woman doll incident, my father pushed sports and athletics on me as part of “being a man.” Enter Exhibit A: The picture below (by the way, I would later grow up and drive the red car in the background, but that is an entirely different entry):
I just never, ever had an interest in sports. My father, on the other hand, loved every sport. In high school, he played on both the football team and the baseball team. Despite my overt lack of interest, he instituted mandatory hours of sports practice for me (he, btw, wasn’t ever actually present at such practice, he just made sure that I went). Given my already existing disinterest in sports, it's no mystery that those hours in the New Mexico sun built my burning hatred of all things sports related.
During holidays and birthdays, my mother left the shopping for my gifts mostly up to my father. This resulted in many balls, clubs, bats, and I think even a croquet set. All things I rarely wanted or used. My father proved determined to find some sport, any sport, that I wanted to play.
On my fifth Christmas, however, I found that my father had tidily wrapped a Wonder Woman doll and left it for me under the tree. To this day, it still stuns me. It also stands out as one of the happiest Christmases of my childhood.
I loved my Mego Wonder Woman doll. She had quite the adventures, eventually losing her left hand during some super-battle. Of course, after a couple of years, my interests had changed. Wonder Woman got deposited in a toy box and forgotten. By my seventh birthday, I became a capitalist slave to Kenner’s unending Star Wars line of toys. This, though, appeared much more gender appropriate. My father seemed relieved, at least for the time being.
Still, the Wonder Woman doll showed an unusual level of kindness and love from my father that touches me today. We have had a difficult relationship, to say the least. Even though he abhorred the idea of his son playing with a doll, however, he still bought one because he knew that it would make me happy.
Yesterday, my recently-purchased Mego doll arrived in the mail. Seeing the familiar package and revisiting these memories made me feel a bit better.