Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tubsy


I've worked with some really awesome people over the years, in a lot of different places. I've worked in convenience stores, gift shops, architectural firms, doctors' offices, and, of course, theme parks. My former co-workers have shown incredible patience with me, even though I have subjected all of them to an exercise I call "Bonding Questions." You've probably all worked with somebody like me who will demand the room's undivided attention and then ask, "If you could have dinner with only ONE person from all of time, whom would it be?" Or, "What was your best day EVER?" What usually follows is a bunch of eye-rolling and exasperated groans. But then, slowly as we go around the room, these wonderfully intricate, heartfelt stories begin to emerge. I LOVE it!!


We had a lot of down-time during my last gig at Terminator 2/3D at Universal Studios. Imagine a tiny, dark, backstage space filled with actors, stunt people, and technicians. Our ages ranged from eighteen to fifty. Enter Joan and her dreaded "Questions of Bonding!!!" One of my favorite inquiries is, "What is your favorite Christmas gift EVER that you received?" My boss told the hilarious story about his single mom, who was very weary of buying non-appreciated gifts for her many children. So, one year she wrapped up a giant box of CASH (all singles!), much to the delight of him and his siblings!! One girl talked about the Christmas she turned thirteen and received her first make-up kit, then proceeded to spend the rest of day applying blue eyeshadow to herself, her brothers, and the cat. 

Another guy mentioned the year both his parents were unemployed. They sat him and his two sisters down in early December and told them that Santa was going to have to make some cut-backs, so they'd be receiving only one present each that year. We all watched as this big, grown man fondly described in detail the one present he and sisters received, and how each gift was so perfect and so lovingly thought-out by his parents, they didn't want another.

My favorite gift was Tubsy. Tubsy was a happy plastic doll made by Ideal Toys. She came with a tub, towel, and plastic magnetized bear that, when held near her belly, would make her arms move and splash the water. Tubsy splashed. That was about it. It was in early August when I first learned of Tubsy's existence. Her ad appeared during a Bugs Bunny cartoon commercial break. I was completely entranced with her (the doll SPLASHED, for cripes sake!!) and talked about her in great length right up until December 24th. I know this, because there is a story my Dad tells every Christmas season. 

Apparently, as he was tucking me into bed Christmas Eve night, I sat up, grabbed his arm and gasped, "Dad, I REALLY hope Santa brings me Tubsy!!" Now, you must understand that my Dad's role in the Christmas shopping duties was to work three extra jobs to help pay for toys for five children. My mom did the actual shopping. So, legend has it that Dad left my room, descended the stairs two at a time and said to his exhausted, beautiful wife, "Tell me we got that child Tubsy!" Mom laughed and assured my father that she had, indeed, acquired the doll sometime in early September when my daily Tubsy rantings became more than she could bear. Of course, Christmas morning was glorious as I opened my precious treasure. I played with Tubsy for many years, long after her battery-powered splasher subsided and, after an unfortunate "dropping incident," her right leg no longer remained attached.

But the reason Tubsy was my favorite gift isn't because she was such an awesome doll (did I mention she actually SPLASHED?). It's because every single year my Dad tells that Christmas Eve story. I mentioned earlier that I am one of five, closely-aged children. Dad missed out on a lot of our childhood because he was working his ass off to help pay for ballet lessons and softball uniforms. His memories of us as kids, understandably, blend and blur quite a bit. But for some reason, he remembers every detail of that night at my bedside. All these years later, usually Christmas Eve night after our traditional peel-and-eat shrimp feast (his favorite), Dad will begin, "I remember that ONE year..." I lean back and smile broadly as his words cover me like a warm, soft blanket. My favorite part is how he always ends it: "When Mom told me that she already had Tubsy, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief! I could just picture myself going out in the snow on Christmas Eve night to every toy store in Cleveland, trying to find that damn doll for Joan!"

I still have Tubsy. She sits in a prominent place on a shelf in my guest room, her broken leg semi-attached in the appropriate hole. When I pass by, I always stop and plant a kiss on her happy little face and say, "Thanks, Tubs." She knows why...

Thanks for reading!

20 comments:

The Warrior in ME said...

Awww! You still have her? THAT qualifies for the bestest story ever told!

p.s. dads are so cute even when they know nothing about us, sometimes!

Alice in Wonderland said...

I used to hate dolls that didn't do anything! I think I might have liked a "Tubsy" though! Oh I had dolls that would eat and use a potty and even cry real tears, but I was always a Teddy Bear child, and even today I have a collection of about 250 ranging from Stieff, Past-Times, Merrythought, and the tiniest joinable teddy that is only an inch tall!

Gucci Mama said...

Tubsy sounds AWESOME. Not as sweet as Teddy Ruxpin, who is the greatest Teddy of all time, but still pretty awesome.

themommydaddy said...

The best Christmas gift I ever received was when I was 5 or 6 and I prayed for a white Christmas. I was living in Pennsylvania and it hardly snowed but that year it did. I don't remember the presents but I remember the snowflakes.

Star Child said...

Gucci Mama...I think Super Ted is the best Teddy...

I love Christmas, but don't often remember what I get for presents. I am usually all excited about what I have got for other people.

MMMmmmmm, the one person I would most liek to have dinner with...

Oh my, too many...I think maybe Dawn French or Victoria Wood. Sybil Shepard? Ricky Gervais?

My brain might just have fried out.

JenJen said...

How adorable :) I love stories like that. My mom always tells me the story of how my sister and I would pin long blankets to the butt of our pants and run around like the centuars in Fantasia. I think it modestly explains why I am the way I am today.

Being Me said...

Please tell me you will record it when your Dad regales you with the same story this year, J! xxxx It is a most precious memory for him, obviously, and so touching that you guys share that bond. Thank you so much for sharing this!

pixie13 said...

That is such a sweet story. And you still have her, too.

Debbie said...

That's a beautiful memory. My favorite doll was a purple-eyed, green hair rag doll. Why? Because everybody made fun of her because she was so ugly. I felt like I had to love her extra hard because no one else would. Isn't it funny how the little things from childhood make the biggest memories?

Eva Gallant said...

That was an adorable story. What a great Dad!

ReformingGeek said...

I love your stories! I'm one of the co-workers that would hate those questions because I can't every think of anything. I can remember how silly I was as a child and my parents spoiled me OF COURSE!

I do remember a "Thumbalina" doll. I still have that tiny little thing. No, she didn't splash. LOL.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Every child on the planet should be this loved by their father... Wonderful post!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Mrs. Geezer often calls me Tubsy.
Maybe I can market a Geezer Tubsy doll and get it in Walmart before Christmas?

Bossy Betty said...

After reading your post, I can see why Tubsy is special to you!

Deborah Ann said...

Your dad sounds like mine! When my kids were little, he'd place a bag of candy on the doorstep, knock, and then run!

Tubsy sounds very special!

Rachel said...

Aww! That is just the sweetest!

Dads are the best - especially when they are their girl's very first Prince Charming!

(I remember vividly the day that my hardworking dad showed up at my school and took me out to lunch at Jack In The Box for my birthday - I was in second grade and that special time is imprinted as a favorite memory).

Thanks for sharing about Tubs!

SM said...

Beautiful memory! you still have her!!! wow.
My daugther keeps this raggy doll on her dresser from when she was barely one. I would love for her to write about this one day.

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

So sweet, Joan.

I love the "Bonding Questions" idea. Very appropriate title, with both good and bad connotations. Well done!

Ally said...

Hi! I'm a new follower from Daily Dose of Reality's blog roll. I am loving that you were once an actress and now are writing! I wish I had a Tubsy, my doll was Baby Alive. Loved that kid!

rxBambi said...

I still have my Debbie. She was a total mess, but about 10 years ago one of my neighbors asked if she could borrow her and I said yes, having no clue what she meant to do. She gave Debbie a new body, fixed her hair, washed off her smudges, and even made her 2 new outfits. Then she gave her to me for my birthday. It was amazing.

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