Friday, August 30, 2013

The Insomnia-ing

When I was a toddler, I had a life-sized doll.

Her name was Mary Jane* and I loved her. In fact, I loved her so much and played with her so often that she ended up with only one arm and one leg.  I’m not sure if that’s because she was poorly made (likely in China out of lead-based plastic, broken glass and old creosote-soaked axe handles, as the year was 1970), or if this was just the result of my parents allowing us to play with our toys—we were decidedly not a “still in box, collect the whole set” kinda family.

Once Mary Jane became a one-legged, one-armed doll, she was relegated to the back of my bedroom closet, or as I now think of it: The Closet of (Evil &) Misfit Toys. One night as I slept the sleep of the just and the untroubled, Mary Jane lurched out of my closet and tried to kill me. Or at least I dreamt that she did, and when you’re a toddler that’s pretty much the same thing. I’m not sure what became of Mary Jane after that, but she was exiled by my parents and I returned to my normal nightmare-free childhood. Or what passes for normal when you’re me.

Until Raggedy Ann showed up.

This was, I think, in the 4th grade. She was a Christmas present—brand new, life-sized, and my parents were so excited to give her to me. I remember feigning happiness upon opening the box and pulling out the doll because even though I didn't want to touch her,  I also didn’t want to hurt her feelings (or those of my parents)… but the reality was, I was scared of her. I was pretty sure that Mary Jane was going to use Raggedy Ann to kill me. I mean, that’s how these things work, people-- and I couldn’t fathom why my parents would place me in such obvious danger.

For years, that giant Raggedy Ann sat on a wicker chair in my pink little bedroom with the pretty little pink hand-me-down canopy bed. She smiled her garish smile and bided her time, waiting for me to drop my guard. Every night after my parents tucked me in and turned off the light, I’d lie awake in that canopy bed, my strawberry blonde ‘fro peeking out from under the covers, my chubby little fingers grasping sweatily at my pink bedspread, staring at Raggedy Ann, noticing how the light from the streetlamp reflected off her cold, black button eyes, and wondering when I’d see her move ALL ON HER OWN. I knew it was inevitable.

And then we moved. And I was allowed to redecorate my room. Raggedy Ann moved into the attic where I still occasionally thought of her, plotting my demise. Sometimes when I couldn't sleep, I’d imagine I could hear the attic door creaking open and the telescoping stairs sliding down into the hallway right outside my door. During my senior year in high school, I even had a nightmare in which she painted “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU ANDREA” in giant capital letters IN BLOOD on my wall and then she walked out of the house and drove off in my RX7. Just and untroubled, indeed.

Ever since then, I’ve been somewhat afraid of life-sized dolls. Somewhat, as in completely and totally. Any horror movie featuring them is guaranteed to flip me the fuck out. And my charming family has delighted in tormenting me with Raggedy Ann, who still lives in my parents’ house. When I return home to visit, Raggedy Ann pops up in the most unusual places: Often sitting on a chair in the guest room, occasionally rigged to swing out at me when I open a closet door, and once incongruously contemplating my murder from the toilet seat. 

Enter “The Conjuring.”  Enter Annabelle. Enter the supposedly true story of a haunting based on the experience of Ed & Lorraine Warren, featuring the world’s creepiest looking doll. Enter the realization that NO ONE TOLD ME THIS MOVIE HAD A LIFE-SIZED DOLL COMPONENT, YOU GUYS.

Say hello to Annabelle, as featured in "The Conjuring."
I was seriously afraid to even download this photo...thinking I was risking bad juju.

What a delightfully frightening movie! I gasped many times, may have shrieked a little, and once the hair on my arms and legs even stood up. But the thing is, I’m a grown-up now and I know that dolls can’t hurt me. I live 1200 miles away from Raggedy Ann, who clearly was no Annabelle.  And besides, I have no tie to this Annabelle. Subsequently, she should have no beef with me. Right? RIGHT?

So yesterday during lunch I got curious about Annabelle’s story and did a little research. Thank you, Interwebs!  You can imagine my delight when I came across a photo of the REAL Annabelle doll. The one that remains locked in a glass case in the Warren’s occult collection so that she can’t hurt anyone anymore. The one that allowed a demonic spirit to possess her, all the better to terrify her hapless owner.

Check her out, in all her glory-- I assure you, she's even more terrifying than the one they used in the movie:

Note: Still in box
Seriously you guys, I’m never sleeping again, ever.


*P.S. I did a Google Image search to find a photo of my particular Mary Jane doll and the results were so hair-raisingly creepy that I had to abandon the idea.

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