Yes, the doll has two little red dots on her neck. This is Marceline, although I just this minute learned her name. She is a vampire doll and for a few weeks she lived in my house, the property of my seven-year old granddaughter, and because I am possibly the least observant person in the universe, it totally escaped me that she was a vampire doll. Yet there were the two telltale marks on her neck – doll stigmata. All of us terribly progressive, feminist women were distressed by Barbie’s sexist nightmare measurements (and by the incredibly difficulty of getting her ball gowns over her enormous rack) but we’re A-OK with a doll who has been blood-sucked by who? another doll? My knowledge is limited.
I watch True Blood so I am cool with the vampire, faerie, shape-shifting parallel universe. Never one for the fantastic or gore, for that matter, it surprises me that I like True Blood so much. I like how people aren’t what you thought, how they jet across rooms, turn into wolves, and generate light in their hands that transports them in an instant to another place. Dead people, especially vampires, do the most grotesque disintegration. It’s horrid and mesmerizing in the same instant, which I assume was the plan.
So when my granddaughter explained to me that the doll was Marceline, it was clear that she was pretty tuned in to vampire culture.
This is nuts, I thought. How do vampires become characters in kids’ stories? How has the terrifying become so mundane? She doesn’t seem frightened in the least by vampires, unlike me who can be found hiding behind a sofa pillow when a True Blood vampire sinks his teeth into a beating heart. There is so much more to generational differences than people suspect.
Does this mean that Berenstain Bears are out of the game? With their archaic Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister and the fool dentist and other folks who show up, all in bear outfits with silly hats? How has my granddaughter tolerated all these phony bear family capers when there are vampire stories to be heard? She humors me, I know that.
The vampire image is so fitting, though, especially for mothers who often feel as if their children might suck the life right out of them. I remember being in the world of little kids, never having enough sleep and never being able to take a shower with the door closed. I’m glad no one told me (or I would have quit altogether) – wait until your kids are grown up and their problems aren’t fun size anymore. You will not be losing sleep because they are hungry or colicky but because you are waiting for the phone to ring with terrible news. You will want the neighborhood vampire to come by and do a bit of glamouring so you forget everything that has been difficult or scary and only remember Christmas morning.
But that would be a hard and cynical thing to say and I’m neither of those things.
I love dolls.