I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my reports and I have been worrying that I might not be coming off as “real” to you wonderful Retroist Readers. I realize that I am widely respected as an authority on pop-culture history but I want you to know that I’m more than that. I’ve really gone out there and done some living! Therefore in the same vein as the anecdotes that Retroist uses to start his pod casts, I thought I would tell you a little story about my own childhood.
I can still remember when I first got the My Buddy toy. My parents had went out, fought the mobs and bought him for Christmas just before going on a month long trip to Nappa Valley. My folks had often gone on romantic getaways, but this was the first time I could remember them going together and it was kind of a big deal in our family. I was left in the capable hands of my usual babysitter Susan and over the next week My Buddy and I did everything together! Climbing trees, riding my big wheels together, making a clubhouse…All the things that are normal to do with a semi life-size doll. Many was the day where MB would say “Hey der pal a’mine! Yous wanna play?” My Buddy, for some reason, had a Bronx accent. He had spoken from the moment I received him, and I didn’t find out until years later that the toy was never designed to talk…
For a long time everything seemed perfect, but little by little they began to change. At first it was small things, I would think that My Buddy had looked at me, but when I turned around, he appeared normal. Sometimes he would even seem to blink. Most of the “incidents“ could easily be explained away as childhood imagination. However, one night I became convinced that My Buddy was actually trying to kill me. It was the middle of the night and I was wide awake, curled up in the corner of my room, just screaming. My babysitter Susan ran into the room, and after I told her my story, she explained to me that I had just had a nightmare. She told me that My Buddy wasn’t trying to kill me, then she sat with me for a little while and finally switched off the light and left.
After she left, of course, My Buddy tried to kill me. As my friend crawled up my bed, knife clenched between his plastic teeth, I managed to throw my blanket overtop of him and made a jump for it. I crossed my room faster than I ever had in my life and locked myself in the closet. I heard my twisted toy struggle and finally cut himself free of his comforter prison. I heard the sound of his footsteps scurrying across the floor, out of my room and down the hall. There was a lot of crashing and screaming from the living room and then sudden crushing silence. I don’t know what ever happened to Susan but I assume she lived a long and happy life. She did leave her car in our driveway though. Weird…
While My Buddy was terrorizing Susan, I managed to escape through my bedroom window. I ran to the home of the only neighbor I thought might believe me, a young writer and film student named Don Mancini who lived next door. I explained the urgency of my situation and he believed me with no questions asked. Don was, for some reason, armed to the teeth at any given time and was immediately ready to help me to rid my home of the killer doll. Stopping My Buddy, however, would not be so easy.
With Don leading the way, we stormed through the front door of my house. Quick as a wink, Don spotted My Buddy and placed him squarely in the sights of his Magnum. The Toy charged at Don just as he pulled the trigger. The gun jammed and My Buddy slapped the useless weapon out of his hand. The doll, who had to weigh three, four pounds tops, then managed to wrestle the full grown man to the ground and began to throttle him and then drag him to the nearby fireplace. As I lost all respect for my neighbor, I began to form a backup plan. One of Don’s pathetically kicking feet managed to flip the switch turning on the gas to the fireplace. Just as MB stepped onto the gas logs, I used a candle to light a piece of paper and ran forward. My Buddy knew right away what I had in mind and finally fear crossed his painted-on face. He spoke to me. “But JC! Why wouldya wanna hurt yer old pal? I tought we were da best o’ friends dat could be!“ I thought for a moment, clenching the makeshift torch in my hand and made a decision. I threw the torch down and snuffed out the flames. Just as I started to apologize to My Buddy and opened my arms for a hug, unbelievably, the doll attacked me again!
Luckily, fate was on my side. You see, toys at that time were not as focused on safety as they are now. Designers wisely factored in “ease of destruction” should the toy come murderously to life and they had therefore designed the My Buddy doll with the flammability of paper bag full of oily rags. My Buddy managed to brush against the lit candle and burst into flames. Rather than die however, the evil and now burning doll began to chase me. I ran through the house pleading with the toy. “My Buddy!” I would say “My Buddy, My Buddy!!” but it was no use. Wherever I would go, he was gonna go. I stab his own knife through his heart and nothing. Don fired his gun several times into the charred body of the My Buddy doll, and got nothing but mocking laughter in return. Finally in one last desperate attempt, I manage to pull the tiny ribbon holding his batteries in place. The batteries scattered across the floor and My Buddy collapsed. Finally dead. You may wonder why My Buddy had batteries when I already explained that he couldn’t talk and was not supposed to be animated in any way? I really wish you wouldn’t.
As we sat there looking at the crumpled heap that had been my pal and would-be killer, I said the only thing I could say. “Gosh wow gee! Nobody is ever going to believe this.” Don took a drag on his cigarette and looked into the distance. Finally he broke his silence. “Don’t worry kid. Your story WILL be told.” I’m not sure what became of Don Mancini, but I hope he’s doing well. As for me, it took quite a while but I was finally able to get over the My Buddy Ordeal and move on with my life. One thing is for sure, after that day I never had another possessed toy in the house! Except for the HuggaBunch, of course…
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