Now For a Change, Some of What

THIS BLOG IS SUPPOSED TO BE all about — Baby Troll, my fictional character, Gabrielle Dolly.

Hey! Hey! Hey! Whatch who you’re callin’ fictional, Buster!

Sorry. Say, “Imaginary.”

That’s better. Marginally.

You’re welcome.

Somewhere in the collection of clippings I keep for reference and inspiration when dreaming up Dolly’s stories, there’s an old IBM magazine ad from the late ’90s. It’s a picture of two young men on the top deck of a house barge on the Seine. Think Duncan McLeod’s barge in the Highlander TV series. They’re sitting down and sharing a drink. One of them is holding up a sign, the headline for whatever IBM was plugging that day. In the foreground is a redheaded toddler in a jumper dress, white tights, and black patent leather shoes. She’s running and laughing, the prototypical happy child. There’s no sound, but you can just hear the peals of her laughter ringing out over the water.

In Double Switch, Mitchell Drummond (Dolly’s lover) has an exchange with the lesbian biker poet Sappho Tarkasian. Sappho asks him, in effect, both where Dolly gets it from and how she gets away with the outrageous things she does and say. Drummond’s reply is, “I think it’s because she never was a girl.”

Dolly was created as a grown woman out of the anima of an ancestress of the East clan and a cloned body grown from recombinant DNA. Although her makers took considerable pains to ensure that her body developed normally during its accelerated growth, providing Dolly with the muscle memory and physical toning for such diverse activities as fencing, playing guitar, and engaging in sexual intercourse, Dolly never went through most of the experiences that form young girls — competition with an overbearing mother, rough-housing with siblings and peers both male and female, sexual importunings from each and every male around her from the moment her body first began to betray her in puberty, and all the rest.

Although Dolly’s unique genesis was not devised in order to provide me with this device (it was, in fact, invented as a matter of necessity — having to explain how a plastic toy could become a real person within a given time frame), I would nevertheless have to be utterly unaware of the human condition (and therefore unsuitable as a writer of fiction) not to recognize the golden opportunity Dolly’s creation presents me for comment on that condition.

Although you’ll never catch me addressing it head-on, and God forbid I should do something so kack-handed as Stapledon or McDonald a character (like Travis McGee’s buddy Meyer) to lecture the reader on the subject, nevertheless, there will always be this theme in Dolly’s stories.

What is it about modern society — even American society, where women are the most liberated they have ever been — that takes that fearless little toddler, ready and able to take on the world, and turns her into a mincing little mouse by the time she’s ten? Is the world really that hard on kids?

And it does bug me when women speak too softly to be heard, when they permit themselves to be used and abused because they don’t want to make a fuss, when they give undue consideration to miscreants taking advantage of their better natures. When they won’t even stand up for themselves against their own abusive peers.

Of course, Dolly is none of those things. She’s bold as brass and loud as a Marshall amp on eleven. Her customary method of locomotion is the strut, and you always know where you stand with her. She dives into life headfirst like Charlie Hustle sliding into second base. Her motto is, “Get some on you. More usually does the trick.” She loves like she’s never been hurt, and will risk her own life without hesitation to protect anyone within reach, whether she knows them or not.

And, I am glad to say, that every single, solitary trait grafted onto her busty, redheaded frame comes from a real-life woman of my acquaintance (more than a few of them lovers). So the generalizations I’m reacting to are, like all generalizations, possessed of exceptions. And, as we saw in the current war, the American female soldier, seaman, airman, and Marine can more than take care of her self. I call them the Kickass American chick, and my heart swells with pride just to know they’re out there.

I have also noticed — or think I have, anyway — that younger women are driving more assertively than they used to. Granted, assertive driving can sometimes equal asshole, but you gotta take the bad with the good.

I found it amusing when, before the War on (some) Terror, some European metrosexual ranted that we Americans allowed our women so many undue liberties because we’re afraid of them. I just had to laugh at how badly wrong he got it. No, you do not “allow” the descendants of Molly Pitcher, Abigail Adams, and Laura Ingalls Wilder to do anything. If she’s of a mind to, an American woman will take on any challenge, and there’s no “allowing” to be involved. And — far from being afraid of our grrls — we’re oh, so very proud of them.

A certain librarian of my acquaintance relates her treatment of a pushy asshole. We are so very, very proud of you, Breda. Good on ya, kid.

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