I had dolls growing up which would help teach me to become a dad one day. The first one I remember was a boy plastic baby doll I had convinced my parents to buy me from a convenience store. It was hanging on a white pegboard in a clear bag with a folded cardboard top with two staples. I’m sure it was only a few dollars but I loved that doll, his name was Joey Stivic, I took him everywhere with me and when he needed new clothes my dad would cut two leg holes in the bottom of one of his socks and that would become a brand new pair of pajamas for him. It wasn’t until after they bought it for me they realized it was a male version of a Betsy Wetsy doll, was anatomically correct and without knowing any better I would use him as a canteen and to my parents’ horror, I don’t think I have to tell you what I used for the drinking spout.
Somehow he was “lost” after all the unintentional fellatio. I did, however, get another doll when I was a little bit older. The Cabbage Patch Kid craze was in full effect. It was around 1983 and absolutely every kid in my class had one but me and they all brought theirs to school. I came home and cried. My parents searched all around to no avail. My dad knew a guy who knew a guy who heard the Toys R Us would be getting a shipment in and 50 CPKs would be for sale Saturday morning. 50! Surely I would have time to peruse the kids and decide which kid I would adopt. Would it be a boy? would he be blonde like me? Late one Friday Night my dad woke me up enough to get in his charcoal gray Ford pickup with a cap on the bed. I was tired and confused but he was my dad. When I woke up we were in the Toys R Us parking lot.
There were less than ten people in line outside. By the time the store opened it was daytime and there were about two hundred people in line. Even though we were in line it wasn’t a first come first serve kind of situation. The doors open there was a stampede, I and dad were running while he was holding my hand. We had no idea where they were. The large group spread out to a number of smaller groups. I followed my dad and was a little confused as to what was going on, still I held my dad’s hand tighter and tighter and ran with him as fast as I could. Momentarily I was distracted by a jewelry counter displaying a wide assortment of Michael Jackson rhinestone gloves, some were nice and some looked like they were an art project in Mrs. Beandle’s kindergarten class. I think I’ll get the one on the… No! That’s not why we were there, we kept running. Either this store was enormous or I was just small with little legs. I started getting that pain in my side, right under your ribs. I told my dad to go on without me, but he wouldn’t leave me behind. I guess my dad could see them since he was three times my height, we started walking in one direction with purpose. Winded and cramping we arrived at the back of the store, there weren’t fifty Cabbage Patch Kids, there were close to twenty, maybe twenty-five. They were stacked on the floor, where some store clerk had made a display out if them. It was possible to see all of them if I circled. This was my first major decision of my young life. Doing some quick estimating in my head I think about five of them were boys, that narrowed it down. People were just grabbing them left and right. The store manager yelled “only one per customer”. People had brought people with them so they could cheat that rule. More and more were getting snatched up. Some woman yelled, “Over Heah!” Then all the other people started towards us. They were all so different. Each one was a special one. No two were alike. I think I had it narrowed down to three. My dad yelled “Just pick one! Anyone!” In an excited tone. So I did. He was a blonde boy like me and he had jeans, and a white shirt with a CPK logo on it and a yellow windbreaker on. His sneakers were white with blue stripes. His name was Marsh Warren and he smelled like baby powder which became my favorite smell for more than thirty years until I smelled my daughter for the first time and she became my favorite smell. We got the nice MJ glove on the way out and I still have Marsh to this day he was one of the only things to survive the fire of Christmas Eve 2000 because he was on my waterbed and the flames didn’t get to him before they were extinguished. I loved my dad with all my heart, but that day in Toys R Us he became my hero.