When I was 9, I tested my parents love for me.
It was 1987, and the makers of the world-famous Teddy Ruxpin doll came up with a new creation: Julie. It was an interactive doll that would recognize your voice and respond to movement, light and temperature.
From the moment I saw the first commercial, I knew I wanted one...and I would stop at nothing to make sure that doll was mine.
Why I wanted a creepy interactive doll is unknown to me. It's not like I didn't have interactive friends. Maybe I wanted to practice my babysitting skills... or...maybe it was because I was the youngest and I wanted someone I could boss around for once....or maybe I secretly wanted to simultaneously annoy and scare the living daylights out of all the adults in my family...no one can say for sure.
I was a kid on a mission. I saw three extra department store Santas that year just to be sure I could tell him about my creepy doll request...and of course, I made sure to tell my parents every morning and every night.
Christmas finally rolled around, and my parents decided to have a little fun. They knew that I was no dummy. I cased the presents around the tree from the minute they arrived, handling each package clumsily, shaking it til the contents were broken, and even partially unwrapping boxes til I could see some sort of label. Knowing this, my parents addressed the box containing my doll to my grandpa. Then they watched me open every gift...none of which were the coveted Julie doll...and grinned like idiots as they asked me if I got everything I wanted. I lied and said yes.
They let me sweat it out for a few more minutes...probably hoping I'd at least burst into tears for their amusement. Then they brought it out. They said I had one more present...and I knew it what I'd been waiting for. JULIE!
I was so excited I almost peed my pants. I couldn't wait to have long conversations with my new interactive doll! The commercials promised that she would recognize my voice and sing songs to me and basically be the most amazing playmate I'd ever known.
The reality of Julie was something much different. My whole family was pretty much terrified of her from the minute we took her out of the box...with good reason.
This was a doll that talked without warning; a doll that sang eery children's music: a doll with moving eyes that looked right through you. If you covered those eyes, she would say, "It's getting dark in here!" and when you shook her, she giggled and told you to stop tickling her.
I played with her everyday... for at least a week....then I tossed her into a giant heap of beheaded barbies, sat down and started my list of demands for the next major gift-giving holiday.
I guess I owe my parents one.
Maybe there is a creepy interactive nurse for seniors that I can invest in this holiday season...