It's story time again, boys and girls.
Bear with me, I can't seem to help myself lately.
Annie was a dollhouse, and she lived with Faye and Bob. She had everything a dollhouse could want, nice furniture in her rooms, charming wallpaper, pleated curtains on real curtain rods, and in her fireplace was a fire that really lit up.
But Annie was not happy in her shell. She always felt she should have been a log cabin.
Instead of a winding staircase, she wanted a sturdy ladder to reach her upper floor. Instead of a fireplace with a mahogany surround and mantle, she wanted rugged stones. She wanted to feel logs on her sides, not painted MDF clapboards, and she longed for moss covered cedar shingles on her roof. Someone had long ago varnished her shingles, and now her roof shone in the afternoon sun, and Annie didn’t like it one bit.
In her heart, Annie was a Western Gal.
Almost every night after supper Bob would settle down in his recliner and watch cowboy movies, and Annie would watch them too, peering over his shoulder at the TV screen. She wished she could ride out in the open range, and smell the sagebrush. She wanted to be out among the tumbleweeds and sit by a campfire, well, not toooo close to the campfire. She was made of wood, after all.
Annie knew her limits, she couldn’t ride, she couldn’t chase outlaws, or rope cattle, but it would have been so nice to at least look like she belonged there.
One day Faye removed all of Annie’s furniture, pictures and even the little pleated curtains. She carried Annie into the workroom, and began to gently peel back her wallpaper.
Every year or so, Faye would redecorate Annie. One year her rooms were completely redone in satin and velvet in various shades of rose and pink, and how she hated it. The year Faye decorated her as a New England farmhouse wasn’t bad though. Annie rather liked the rustic farmhouse table and the cast iron stove, and she felt the Victorian parlor set upholstered in shiny black cloth gave her an air of quiet dignity.
“Oh no”, thought Annie, as she spied some decorating books, “Here we go again. She’s going all frou-frou Victorian on me, I just know it. I don’t feel good in ruffles and doilies.” Annie felt like holding her breath till she turned blue, that would show fancy Faye a thing or two, and just for a moment, as Faye measured Annie’s living room for fresh wallpaper, she did just that. She held her breath, just for a moment.
“ Oh, what’s the use?”, thought Annie. “I have no control over my destiny at all. I am whatever she wants me to be and that’s that.” Annie felt quite sad and sorry for herself.
Meanwhile, Faye had cut out the wallpaper and was now ready to glue it to Annie’s living room wall.
“What the heck?” mumbled Faye. “I was sure I measured it right”, and she got her scissors and trimmed off some of the extra wallpaper.
At this point Annie got a good look at her new living room wallpaper. It was a pretty paper, covered in pink cabbage roses, but it just wasn’t Annie’s style. “Phooey”, thought Annie, and out of sheer cussedness she held her breath again.
Meanwhile, Faye was once again ready to glue on the wallpaper.
“Drat! Drat! Drat!” muttered Faye. “How can I be so stupid? I can’t believe I did that!” This time the wallpaper was cut too short. Faye set the sheet aside and got out her ruler again.
She measured Annie’s wall twice, then she carefully measured the paper and marked it. To be on the safe side, she remeasured Annie’s wall, and the paper, before she started cutting.
Annie sat still, patiently waiting for Faye to finish pressing the paper into place.
Suddenly a thought popped into Annie’s mind. Faye was always so careful in her work. It was highly unusual for her to cut a piece of wallpaper or molding too short. “Measure twice, cut once” was Faye’s motto.
Annie started to wonder if her little tantrum had something to do with Faye’s mistake. She decided to try an experiment.
She sat very still while Faye measured another wall, then, when Faye came towards her with the next sheet of wallpaper, Annie took a big breath and held it.
“Noooooo!” wailed Faye. “It’s too short! It can’t be too short! I measured and measured!” Faye stood there a moment staring at Annie and then at the wallpaper in her hand. “I need a break. I wonder if Bob left me some of that coffee cake,” and she left the workroom and headed for the kitchen.
This was certainly a very interesting development as far as Annie was concerned. She wondered if she could really be having a hand in Faye’s dilemma. Annie did some thinking as she waited for Faye to return.
She sat patiently while Faye finished applying the living room wallpaper. “There, that’s better”, said Faye. Annie remained her usual motionless self as Faye added a wallpaper border about 1 inch below the front hall ceiling, and when Faye measured the kitchen walls, she didn’t move one iota.
Next Faye cut the sheet of plastic wall tile for the kitchen, and applied the glue. As her hands moved forward to glue in the tile, Annie took a deep breath and held it.
“Ding-dong-flibber-dadwub-skeezix-jam” yelled Faye. Annie was so surprised. She thought only Bob knew those words. “I’m such an idiot!” continued Faye, and after a moment she began to cry tears of frustration.
Annie started to feel sorry for her then. She wanted to reach out and pat Faye’s hand and say she was sorry and that it wasn’t Faye’s fault, it was hers.
“That’s it for today”, said Faye resignedly. “I might as well get started on dinner. Maybe I’ll bake a cake for dessert. On the other hand,” she continued as she went out the door, “the way things are going it’ll probably fall flat. I wonder if Baumeister’s has any of that cherry cheesecake today.”
Annie felt so guilty as she stared at the vacant doorway. After all, it wasn’t Faye’s fault that she liked ribbons and bows and that sort of stuff while Annie preferred a more rustic style. “I was pretty mean, wasn’t I?”, Annie thought to herself.
After a while though, she started feeling sorry for herself again. “After all, why does everything have to be Faye’s way? She remembered how angry Bob was when Faye got rid of his old chair. “I had it broken in just right” complained Bob, “It fit my butt like a glove”. “It was old, it was nasty and really grungy. You’ll like this new chair much better” Faye replied, and Bob did like his new chair, though Annie didn’t think of that.
“I never, ever get what I want. I’m never in charge of my own destiny. It’s always about what someone wants to do to me. I’m just a thing!!!!”
She was angry, frustrated and very upset, and she cried herself to sleep.
The next day Annie was in a bad mood. Faye started to feel as if she was losing her mind. Every other measurement seemed to be wrong. She wondered if maybe she needed new glasses. Of course, she didn’t know that Annie was up to her tricks, holding her breath at various times while Faye was measuring or gluing. Annie was certainly misbehaving, and not being a nice little house at all.
This was all quite sad, for Faye was truly fond of Annie. She loved looking for tiny treasures to fill Annie’s rooms, and one of her great pleasures was giving her little dollhouse a whole new look when her furnishings started getting a little dusty or faded. Faye started to wonder if she was getting old, and maybe her memory and eyesight were going. After all, she did notice a few more gray hairs every now and then. Maybe she should take up a new hobby. “ I could learn knitting, or crochet….scrap booking? No, not scrap booking, too much cutting. Flower arranging? I know! Pottery! There’s that place up on route 1 that gives classes!” Bob had walked in and asked, “Who are you talking to?” “Nobody, I’m talking to myself”, answered Faye. “Watch out, old girl”, chuckled Bob, “ Next thing you know I’ll have to take you out to the old folks’ home and then I’ll have to find myself some cute young thing to replace you”. “Why you----I don’t need to hear that from you!” yelled Faye, as she threw a sofa pillow at him. “What did I do?” Bob called plaintively after her.
Uh-oh, where does this leave Annie?
A few hours later Faye returned, beaming, arms laden with packages. She packed up the sheets of miniature wallpaper and interior trim and put them away in the storage closet. She cleared her worktable of all her scissors, trimmers, glues and assorted whatnot and put them away in drawers. Finally she carried Annie over to a corner table and covered her with a cloth.
Faye was ready to turn pots.
For months Annie sat in her corner, covered up. She couldn’t see a thing. Except for the times that Faye sat in her workroom turning pots, all she could hear were the faint sounds coming from the rest of the house. No more sitting with Bob watching cowboy movies. No longer the feel of Faye’s soft hands as she dusted or rearranged Annie’s furniture. Annie had no furniture anyway. It was all in boxes in the closet. Annie knew it was all her own fault.
One day she felt herself being picked up. It didn’t feel like Faye’s hands holding her up. She was being carried. She could feel a cold rush of air and heard the cawing of a crow. “I’m outside! What am I doing outside?” She was frantic. She knew that some things wound up “outside and in the trash”.
Suddenly she was indoors again, she heard a loud mechanical noise followed by a thump. Someone pulled her cover off. It was Bob.
Faye had been pursuing her new hobby as a potter, but it seemed to Bob that it wasn’t going too well. He could often hear her making sounds of frustration in her workroom, and although everything she made was off kilter, Bob felt obliged to tell her it was just great. She’d get so upset if he joked about her tilted flower pots and squat jugs.
She used to sound a lot happier when she was decorating Annie, and he remembered that he hadn’t seen the little dollhouse around for quite a while.
He checked the workroom and when he found Annie sitting covered up in the corner, he decided he’d make a nice surprise birthday gift for Faye. He’d buy her some of that fancy dollhouse furniture she was always going on about.
Bob became a man with a mission. He had miniature furniture catalogs stuffed in his tackle box and golf bag. Ned Heavermeyer kidded him about it when he looked in Bob’s bag for some tees, but Bob shot back with a reference to the purple silk shorts incident and the matter was dropped.
He started spending weekends and some of his evenings out in the garage, making improvements on Annie. He polished up her floors, gave her a fresh coat of paint, and cleaned her window panes till they sparkled. He even removed her original trim and added top of the line gingerbread to her little front porch. Annie had never looked so beautiful.
On Faye’s birthday, while she was out having lunch with her sister, Bob brought Annie back into the house. He set her up on a turntable he had made himself, and then unpacked all the miniatures he had bought, and placed them in the rooms.
When Faye came home she was thrilled. She hugged Bob, who sheepishly mumbled, “Ok, Ok, that’s enough of that. Save some of it for later.”
Faye turned Annie this way and that, and Annie caught a glimpse of herself in the living room mirror. “Oh my! I do look pretty!”
Well, life went back to normal after that. Faye decided she’d have enough of pottery and gave her wheel and clay to the retirement home. A few weeks later she bought a new Victorian dollhouse kit, which she and Bob built together. When it was finished, she furnished it with the gorgeous miniatures Bob got her for her birthday, and Annie was redecorated as a sweet summer cottage, which suited her just fine.
One night, as they watched “Deep in the Rockies” for what seemed to Faye the 15th time, she said, “You know, Bob, I’ve been wondering what Annie would look like as a log ranch house. What do you think?”