Saturday, February 28, 2009

Troll Chemistry

As an Oregonian by way of Wisconsin, my father is an avid outdoorsman. While growing up, I managed to avoid the deer and duck hunting trips that my sister endured but I did have to spend a fair amount of time in a boat at dawn fishing for trout. I actually enjoyed fishing; I liked the quiet, the mist, and the mirror-like water at that time of day. But, just as some girls lose interest in family activities when they discover boys, my interest waned when I discovered Trolls.

I wasn’t a big doll person, maybe because my Barbies would most often end up dismembered at the hands of my doll-hating sister and then thrown over the pasture fence for the horses to drop loads on. But I'll never forget seeing my first Troll—it was love at first sight. I started the acquisitions process immediately and soon had a full family of dayglo-haired playmates. I cleared the hooks and swivels and leader line out my tackle box and replaced it with Trolls and the empty match boxes, corks, jewelry cases, and other cast offs that became fantastic Troll World furniture. I remember combing the house for Troll accouterments—the puffy cotton I stole from the top of prescription bottles made for excellent pillows and costume-jewelry brooches became elegant door knockers on stacked-shoebox Troll apartments.

Why the instant connection with Trolls? I can’t quite say. Maybe it was the candy-colored hair, or the welcoming outstretched arms, or perhaps the stubby, jointless limbs that were beyond my sister's doll amputation skills. Can true love be explained? Not really. It’s a chemistry thing. Those Trolls and I had instant chemistry.

I found this love was shared by my cousins as well. When Aunt Judy and Uncle Keith would come up from San Francisco with cousins Chris and Jeff, we’d always head up to the lake for some fishing. But after I had discovered Trolls, we’d talk our parents into dropping us off on a small island in the middle of the lake while they fished. All we needed was a bag of sandwiches, a cooler full of Shasta Tiki Punch, and my tricked-out Troll tackle box. Untroubled by adults, the four of us would spend the day alone on the island in the blazing sun creating lagoons, quarries, entire mud villages for the trolls. It was bliss. I’d pay a lot of money for some sort of holodeck-type experience to revisit Troll Island.

A few months ago, I received a troll with hazmat-orange hair in the mail from my cousin Jeff. My kids don’t see the allure, they prefer to build build their tiny worlds for a cute but charmless Calico Critters mouse family, so happily the troll is mine. All mine! Though I do restrain myself from emptying out an old tackle box to fill with Troll World material, I must admit I do look twice when I see a particularly trollworthy box going into the recycling bin.

I don’t think any toy ever measured up to my Trolls. Any similar toy love stories out there?


Little Ms J said...

"Tricked-out Troll tackle box?" I love it!

I never cared for the trolls much, but I did have a soft spot for Cabbage Patch dolls. My parents wouldn't buy me on when they first came out so I calculated a plan to acquire my first CPD. My BFF, Erika, had money and was swimming in hard plastic faced dolls so I figured her parents should buy one for me. I was like a broken record.

(Audible sigh) "I sure wish I had a Cabbage Patch doll."

After two weeks and a mall excursion where I boxed Erika's parents ears with my passive aggressive pleas her mother turned around, "Enough, Ms. J! Enough! I know you want a Cabbage Patch doll. Everyone in the mall knows you want a Cabbage Patch doll. You're not getting one today."

I didn't speak to her for a week.

Cathy Gersich said...

Time for a story about the good traits of your sister. :)

Suzanne Young said...

I didn't love the Trolls! I'm sorry! I did, however, love GI Joes. Because Scarlett was a total babe and hooked up with everyone! I even had a GI Joe prom. My older brother was LIVID! haha.

Katie said...

WEll I, for one, was TROLL OBSESSED! I had tiny ones and giant ones, but I def. remember my first with the bright orange hair.

In fact I still love trolls. I tried to make my daughters get one recently, but they were only semi-interested.

P.S. I think it was our age.

Shelli said...

my love for chia pets goes unmatched ;)

Paul Äertker said...

Great post. I married at troll. My father in law carried a troll up the aisle with my bride and he squeezed the old boy's belly and it stuck its tongue out us. Comic relief.

Hardygirl said...

Trolls suck.

Jame said...

I loved all things Barbie, I'm a little embarrassed to say. It sounds so pedestrian. But I was a little too old I think when trolls got popular---although I'm flashing back to these pencils with troll-like hair where the erasers should'd roll the pencil between your hands and make the hair go crazy. Did they have actual trolls you could put on the end or your pencil for the same purpose?

The common thread though is building worlds, shoebox houses and towns to move our characters around in. I always say I didn't know I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, but I sure spent a lot of time making up stories.