“last gasp sally”

doll
(photo from “The Daily Mail”)

Sally Franklin Jones — born April Fool’s Day, 1995 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the latest offspring of what would grow to become a family of 26,912 siblings, before the industrial revolution gave way to the debt revolution and the family’s bankruptcy, in 2002. Born mostly gender-neutral, Sally and her semi-sisters were given “certain female characteristics” at the Cedar Falls Resuscitation Practice Doll factory on Milk Street, three blocks from the river.

It was a sunny, early-April day, the city still mostly surrounded by the bare dirt and short-stubbled litter of last summer’s corn harvest. With one North Star “White Mule” heavy-cotton gloved hand beneath each armpit, Mary Orton lifted Sally from the conveyor rollers at the tail end of the assembly line.

She began working at “Doll Town” in January of ’93 at the age of 19, six months after graduating from Cedar Falls High and one month after dropping out of the University of Iowa as an at-sea freshman. Ten years of good-student citizenship for Sally had gone south in her junior year at CF High, when the previews of “Hormones, the Musical,” began playing in her head.

HOT BOY GREGORY: Hey, babe!

MARY: (speechless, blushing, looks down at her Chuck Taylor high-tops)

HBG: Wanna, you know — do something?

MARY: (looking at the scruffy grass behind the portables) Something, like … what?

HBG: Tongue hockey?

MARY: (glancing up at the 17-year-old tower of boy hormones with invisible hormone-smoke coming from his nostrils) Dunno. Maybe?

(Cue music: “Hockey Glottis” begins loud, as six boys, and six girls with pompoms, leap around the corner of the portable, in full cheerleader dress. Mary and Hot Boy Gregory, oblivious to the singing and dancing going on around them, begin making out like two thirsty travelers in the social desert, now happy to be guzzling at a wet and sloppy, hormone oasis.)

Which soon led to an extra-curricular education where bonework began to push homework off the subject stage.

“How’s Mary doing at school?” Mrs. Robinson would ask her mother, six months later, in the canned soups-and-vegetables aisle at Wigwam.

“She seems distracted,” Heather Orton answered with concern, putting a can of Progresso Minestrone in her cart.

“It happens,” Linda Robinson replied, smiling. Linda worked in the sales office at Doll Town, having started on the assembly line soon after high school, herself.

As Mary lifts Sally off the line, now, she gives the lip-lock princess one final look-and-see, before laying her out in the corrugated, cardboard coffin that will send her off to spread the kiss-of-life across a waiting world.

2017-04-01 11:52 (449 words)
_________________
music:
▸ Destroyer performing “Bangkok” and “Times Square” live 2015, from “Poison Season” 2015
▸ Megan Washington performing “Limitless” and “My Heart is a Wheel” from “There There” 2014
▸ Leftover Cuties performing “What’s the Matter?” from “The Spark & the Fire” 2013

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