I was talking with my friend Brian the other day and sending him scary pictures of terrible toys, like you do. Which reminded me I had the worst toy as a kid. Someone gifted me with a red felt jester doll with a Punch and Judy puppet head (like above) that had wires inside the body so you could pose it to sit on a shelf. Someone thought it would be a great idea to put this doll on the highest shelf in my room so I wouldn’t play with it. This shelf happened to be above my nightlight. The doll had curly cue toed shoes and those grotesque facial features which cast a human-sized shadow on my wall each night.
I’d burrow under my covers and turn away from where the shadow leered on my wall. I slept in a captain’s bed several feet off the floor at the far end of the house. I could get out of bed without a problem by slipping down over the side, but I had to get a running start to get into bed by myself, which was something I didn’t feel I could do safely because of all the monsters in the dark. All of the monsters who were themselves scared of the jester shadow doll and would not go any higher than the floor level.
I’d try to fall asleep as fast as I could so I wouldn’t be asleep when the doll came to life. Which actually worked pretty good, until I developed insomnia. I want to say I was somewhere between 6 and 8 when I stopped being able to fall asleep at night and I’d just lay there and stare at the shadow that sometimes seemed to move. Eventually this became a major problem, and when I begged for the doll to go away I was just told to “close my eyes”.
It’s hard to keep your eyes closed when you’re pretty sure the doll is leering at you and its shadow is always in a slightly different place on the wall at night. I’d try to get it down during the day, but it was just out of my reach even on a step stool.
One night, I hid my wiffle bat under the covers (I think this had to do with nightmares more than the doll, but I don’t remember for sure) and while laying there awake, I realized that while I couldn’t reach it… I could probably knock the doll off the shelf. So I crept to the end of my bed, and stood yellow wiffle bat in hand, leaning out over the gap between the end of the bed and the wall. I missed a bunch and I almost fell off the end of the bed a couple of times, but eventually I managed to knock it over, then off the shelf.
The shape of the shadow it cast as it tumbled from the shelf… I… I dropped the plastic bat and dove under the covers and didn’t come out until morning.
The doll wasn’t quite so scary in the morning. Ugly, yes, but clearly just a doll. I shoved it deep into the cupboard under my bed and the next time I was given a trash bag to fill for donation, I hid the terrible doll in the bag and pretended it had never existed.
With the doll gone, I realized I could read my library books at the foot of my bed by the light of my nightlight and ceased worrying so much about not being able to sleep.
One thought on “Terrible Toys”
I didn’t have a toy like that, but my mom read us a story that left me scarred for life. It was from a German book, Der Struwwelpeter, and it was about a little boy who sucked his thumb. His mom told him if he didn’t stop sucking his thumb, the tailor with the shears would come cut if off. The inevitable happened. And *I* was a thumbsucker. It just freaked me out, but it didn’t get me to stop sucking my thumb.
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