My dad thinks that my Cabbage Patch Kid doll made me date Black men.
My family is hardcore tea drinking, crumpet eating, queen adoring, alcohol loving, British… We immigrated here in 1980 and moved to a safe (but lame) suburban neighbourhood where it was predominantly White folks who listened to Wham and drank Molson Canadian. Back when the average price for a new car was $12,585 dollars, there was no such thing as bottled water, email, the internet, or DVDs. When you could play hide & go outside for hours after dark and not worry about getting kidnapped, raped, or shot. When you could say Merry Christmas to people in December and no one would get offended…
And when (God love them) my parents were still completely afraid of anyone who wasn’t White.
It was a cold November day in the 80s, a couple of days before my 7th or 8th birthday. The only thing in the world that I wanted was one of those fucking Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls. Ohhh they were all the rage, and I wanted one as badly as I wanted it to snow on Christmas… As badly as I wanted to eat candy bars for dinner… and as badly as I wanted to sleep in a tent in the backyard every day!
There was no getting around it. I had to have one… Only one slight problem though. A little thing called Supply & Demand… The demand for these things far surpassed the available supply. We were in the throes of a full-on full-contact Cabbage Patch Kid combat craze! Stories about people getting trampled in the local toy stores were rampant. People lining up for hours to get one, even sleeping outside at night waiting for the doors to open the following morning. Nothing short of a marketing miracle!
We drove around that day to 5 or 6 different toy stores and not one of them had a fucking Cabbage Patch Kid Doll. Depression was not even the word for my state of mind. It was a downright tragedy! My face would have told you that I was an unloved orphan with a terminal illness… But to my dad my face was saying “daddy, get me that fucking doll.”
Finally we show up to a Toys R Us on the other end of town. My dad is pissed at this point and has already frantically smoked about 4 cigs in the car (windows rolled up despite the coughing and objections from my sister and I). He tells us (my mom, sister and I) to wait in the car while he runs in to see if they have any of these curiously popular dolls.
Those five minutes that he was in the store, felt like an hour. I sat there staring at the sliding doors with the same intensity of a cat watching a goldfish swimming around a bowl. Finally he emerged from the sliding doors, and my heart sank as I saw the look of disappointment on his face. He got in the car and looked back at me and said:
“Sorry Selina, you’ll just have to wait until Christmas.”
Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I said “They didn’t have any either daddy?”
My dad paused for a minute and said nothing… He shot my mom a glance.
“Well they did have a couple left, but they were Black dolls” he said.
My eyes widened with excitement, as I heard “they had a couple”… I didn’t even acknowledge or care about the rest of the statement.
“Let’s go get one daddy.” I said as I dried my tears.
My dad looked at my mom with unsure eyes. We parked the car and went in to the store, and that was where I met and fell in love with Fred. I don’t even know what his “actual” name was, because to me, he was “Fred” from the moment I saw him. My beautiful black bald cabbage patch kid. Ohh Fred was stylin’. He had a pair of Maroon cords and a matching cordouroy sport jacket, and a pair of funky-ass kicks to go with. I carried him up to the counter with the HUGEST smile on my face… I was so proud!
I carried that doll everywhere! Fred and I were inseperable! He never left my side. I even had my babysitter knit him a few custom sweaters and a matching hat.
Years later when my neighbourhood became more culturally diverse, I had a group of friends resembling a rainbow. It was truly beautiful. I learned the culture of Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, India, and China. My friends were just like me. They acted like me, laughed like me, played like me, and dressed like me. We were all the same. I never saw a difference. And when I started dating (at a young age I might add), I still didn’t see a difference.
One day I brought my current fling home to meet the folks. He was a cute boy named Teddy. He was black and lived around the corner from us. His family was very successful, well educated, and he had the warmest nicest smile ever. He even picked me some flowers!
The look on my dad’s face when he met Teddy was one of absolute horror. He was very polite, but I could tell he was thinking “what the fuck is my daughter doing dating a black boy”. That night after Teddy left I heard him say to my mom:
“I knew we shouldn’t have bought her that black Cabbage Patch Kid Doll.”
Yes, this is a true story! I shit you not. Thankfully, after years of exposure to my friends… my brothers friends… and my sisters friends (and just changing with the times), they have become a lot more open minded and culturally adept! Now my dad makes a kick ass Vindaloo curry and dances to Reggae!