Women’s History Month: Women in Words
I Want a Sex Doll
By Sara Marchant
When my mother lived in Hemet, a neighbor in her senior apartments kept a sex doll. I use the word kept purposefully because a kept woman is what my mother thought the doll was when she first saw it and the neighbor treated his doll like a real woman.
My mother had called me, out of breath, to report that she saw a beautiful Eurasian woman staring plaintively out of her neighbor’s window, toward the apartment parking lot.
I promised to come over and check it out, more interested than alarmed; her elderly neighbor seemed too frail to be holding a robust Russian hostage. My mother was half right, there was a beautiful Eurasian girl in the apartment, but she wasn’t alive. The doll had been moved into the living room by the time we strolled over and peered through the window. And least you think us nosy busybodies—what if he had been holding a powerless foreign woman against her will?
“That isn’t the outfit she was wearing in the bedroom earlier,” my mother whispered and her tone implied that the bedroom outfit had been rather risqué.
The doll was sitting on the sofa, dressed in a low-cut blouse and a mini-skirt. My mother’s elderly neighbor was lying on the sofa, his head in the doll’s lap. He wasn’t watching television or reading; he appeared to be napping. I took my mother’s arm and walked her back to her apartment.
“I’ve read about those dolls.” My mother shook her head. “Can you imagine keeping one in the open like that?”
“I’d love to have one,” I admitted. My mother’s mouth dropped open.
“They have vaginas,” she whispered, her words an indictment.
“Well, yeah. They are meant for sex.” I shrugged. “But I don’t care about that. It would be fun to dress her up, style her hair and put her in the car and use the carpool lane. It would freak people out.”
Disturbed by my desire, my mother changed the subject.
In the coming months, before she moved out of the senior apartments (“Old people are annoying,” was her justification), and aside from the occasional judging remark about her “pervert” neighbor and reports of the doll’s new “trampy” outfits, my mother forgot about the doll. But I did not. That lonely old man with his head in his doll’s life-size lap was one of the most poignant scenes I have ever witnessed.
The scene reminded me of why I became a writer. As a child I played with dolls, re-enacting the dramas and joys of life, working through the stresses of childhood with my plastic avatars. When I became too old for Barbies (and if you think one is never too old for Barbies, I must say my husband does not agree) I started writing the stories I use to enact.
Now, in my small room of my own, I write the dramas and joys of the world I live in, without the benefit of my small plastic friends. With pen and laptop I create, explore and question. And if sometime I wish for a life-sized Barbie to sit next to me, listen with her plastic smile to that day’s words and offer silent encouragement, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Just please don’t tell my mother.
About Sara Marchant
Sara Marchant is a Master of Fine Arts Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside, Palm Desert. She lives in the high desert of Anza, California, with her husband, their canine children, and sundry poultry.
Photo Credit: Soapstart D’lux via a Creative Common license.