The Second-Degree Murder of Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann died in a freak microwaving accident. Call me callous, but it was not until I was well into adulthood that I was reminded of this tragic event.

In fact, only as I sorted through old toys for charity, did sight of the Brother Raggedy unleash the ugly, terrifying truth I had blocked out for so many years.

His sister Ann would not be among these bags and boxes.

Raggedy Ann was dead.

Ann and Andy had been a rather mismatched set from the beginning. Ann was a tall girl-- lean, lanky, and towering above her brother.

Together they looked like a stuffed Sonny and Cher. And, following the tradition, it was Ann who got all the attention.

Ann also suffered from female pattern baldness. So my mother would dutifully re-wig her with whatever color yarn she had handy.

By my kindergarten year, Ann looked less like Cher and more like Courtney Love-- a sticky, smeared, and faded strawberry-blond.

Then she succumbed to further indignity, when Grandpa sat on her.

I can admit it now; it was my frantic attempt to save her from smothering (the Aged Relative was not known for his exemplary hygiene) that inadvertently detached her arm, and triggered her true downward spiral.

I waited fearfully, while Mom put Ann in rehab. Under her skillful hands, Ann was stitched-up, washed, coiffed, detoxed and just about ready to begin life anew. I was overjoyed.

But Ann was also still drenched. A day went by... another... and repeated tumbles in the dryer, and even summer sunbathing on the porch, didn't encourage her ultimate recovery. I was five and I was anxious.

And that’s when Mom decided to speed-dry her in the microwave.

I should emphasize that in the mid-70s, microwaves were still rare and mysterious things. Shadowy and mystical... Akin to Sea Monkeys, StarWars and the high-tech visual delights of Atari Pong.

Mom's logic was that if a microwave could cook a baked potato in seven minutes, it could surely dry some cotton hussy with sporadic alopecia. And it might have worked, too. Only, see, microwaves cook from the inside out and Ann’s insides were, we later learned, sawdust.

Black smoke pouring from the appliance signaled the beginning of the end for our Ann.

In seconds, our dining room smelled like a bonfire. Flames shot from Raggedy Ann’s chest, licking the microwave’s inner roof. The smoke detector squawked like a dying goose. Mom shrieked, tossed baking soda on the doll and patted her down like Kurt Russell in Backdraft. Ann was carried out smoldering.

My mother made a final, noble attempt to resuscitate Raggedy Ann. A denim patch went over the spot where the fatal heartburn had taken place. And we went through the motions of redrawing her facial features with magic marker.

But she still reeked of burnt wood and scorched cotton. And her face was just wet enough so that her markered lips bled into a crooked, post-mortem sneer.

It was time to face facts: Raggedy Ann was no more. We put her in a grocery bag and I watched from the window as Mom set her out with the trash.

I never got another Ann. It would have been disrespectful. But when the Adult Me picked up Andy and added him to the donation bag, I had to wonder...

How on earth did I ever explain to him that his sister, who went in for a simple makeover procedure, ended up dead and dumped at the side of the road?

To this day he probably figures it was a mob hit.

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43 comments:

ender said...

poor andy. are you sure he doesn't think she simply went back to the farm where she could run free?

SSB said...

Poor Raggedy. She was a kind and gentle doll. Stuffed with fluff and all. She will always be remembered R.I.P.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Ender- It's really hard to say; he never brought up the subject. But tragedy sometimes does that to you.

Shirley- (heads bowed solemnly) I think Ann would have appreciated that little poetic eulogy. :) Thank you. (sniff)

Claire said...

I have started my raggedy post, it will be another childhood memory type of thing. Not sure when I will finish it, but I will definitely link back to this horror story :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Hee- thanks, Claire. I'll try to include a link to it in here, too. So folks can see a happier side to a similar situation. :)

Thory said...

About the mob hit angle -- it just sounds so _very_ North Jersey to me...

Rhet

Jenn Thorson said...

Well, Rhet, you can take the girl out of the Garden State, but you can't take the Garden State out of the girl. :)

Greg said...

Wow. You had a microwave oven when you were a kid? Just wow...

What a horror show--thanks for the laughs!

Rachel S said...

clever, slightly sick humor.......LOVE IT!
My own Raggedy Ann ran off with Holly Hobbie after she came out. Andy was devastated at first but sought in the arms of Betsy Wetsy for a time.....but alas such a relationship for a non-water-resistant doll was doomed from the start, of course.....

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- the microwave was enormous, too. There was no SMALL. "Countertop" took up the entire counter. I believe the microwave was an anniversary present for my mother.

Rachel- Sounds like you had a regular Knickerbocker Place going on over there. Drama, deception, lack of waterproofing... Thanks for stopping by and sharing in the mental illness. :)

chyna said...

Jenn

If is helps any my own Ann was involved in a flood in our basement and hung out on the clothes line to dry only to be ripped from her warm angelic pose to be destroyed by a horrible cow dog hell bent on destroying my toys. I suspect that is what happened to Mrs Beasley too. It is too painful to try to remember what happened to her......

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- Oh my-- drowned and then ripped apart. That IS tragic. There needs to be a whole graveyard in memorium for Raggedy Anns, methinks.

chyna said...

I know, how sad is that to survive the great flood of 1977 and then gets your innards violently torn out by an overzealous cow dog hell bent on destruction. Somewhere in the sagebrush or cottonwoods is the sad remnants of a beloved Raggedy Ann. Little wonder why I didn't trust that dog!!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- I think my Raggedy died at about the same time as yours. (Sniff...)

All we are is cotton and sawdust blowing in the wind...

Respectfully Yours said...

Just popped by to ready your contest entry. Love your writing. Come by and visit me sometime.

Poor Ann (I had the Levi twins)- I can just see it now: "She was a lovely doll, died at an early age and cremated" -(not by choice) "Will be sadly missed by her brother Andy". LOL

Jaime said...

poor raggedy ann! what a tragic, untimely death

TJ Lubrano said...

Aww poor Ann! It was quite the adventure for her and the ending wasn't that good either. R.I.P. Ann!

I have a Teddy, which I call Teddy. he has had a wild life this far as well. But it wasn't becuase of microwaves or washing machines...it was my...little brother. yes. The things Teddy saw were just like from a horror movie....haging outside the window by his scarf. Yes he has a scarf. Flying across the room, because my brother said he was his sidekick and he had to check for dangerous before my brother entered the battlefield...*sigh*

He lost his right eye because of this and he has a flat bum...because all of his cotton filling has moved from his bum to his belly...it is a strange sight indeed.

Jenn Thorson said...

Respectfully Yours- Very nice touch there-- I think Ann would have liked your respectful eulogy very much. :)

Jaime- The life of a professional stuffed toy is a rough, dangerous one. Somewhere up there with Alaskan Snow Crab Fishermen and Post Office Workers.

TJ- Oh, the Brother Problem is the single largest hazard in a stuffed toy's life. Poor Teddy has endured much, so bravely!

Joel Klebanoff said...

You're lucky that Andy never took you to court for what you and your mom did to his sister--and for the anguish he suffered because of it.

By the way, thanks for making me look up "alopecia" -- a word that I've now learned and will forget in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...

Oh, and your family had a microwave when you were just five? You have forever forfeited any right to claim to be old, young lady.

Anonymous said...

It must be something about Raggedy Ann. My doll ended up with blueberry stains and then my brother tried to flush her in the toilet. So I didn't end up keeping Ann for too much longer after that. Not sure what happen to her. That poor girl suffered through a lot of things though.

Mariann Simms said...

I had Barbies. The worst you could do to Barbies is pull their heads off. (This was pre-microwave days.) Altho my older sister managed to ink mark nipples and pubic hair on them. Trust me, to a three-year-old upon nonchalantly disrobing their usual non-genitalia'd dolls, this was beyond frightening. I was not prepared for what I saw...I still don't think I've fully recovered.

Jenn Thorson said...

Joel- We were early microwave adopters. As I recall, it was an anniversary present for my mother. Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of microwaved Sizzlean... bleh.

Anonymous- Blueberry stains and being flushed? That poor Raggedy seriously knew suffering. (trumpets play mournfully in the distance)

Mariann- Heh, I can only imagine the terrified screaming!

ReformingGeek said...

That is tragic, Jenn, and it explains so much about you.

Is your mom a grandparent by any chance? I'm scared to ask what she would do to dry a baby.

;-)

Mr. Knucklehead said...

Outstanding. You set a high bar for your opponents. Loved it!

Nabil said...

Haha, Hilarity in a simple blog shaped package. You've got my vote :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- (Sniff) Childhood trauma either causes you to be a guest on Dr. Phil or a humor blogger. :) And no, I'm an only child, so my mother never got a chance to nuke a niece or nephew of mine. :)

Knucklehead- Thank ya, sir! I appreciate it.

Nabil- Glad to send along some laughs!

Melanie said...

:D

Lili said...

Well, of course Andy would think that. You were in North Jersey at the time!

Deray said...

Jajajajaja poor Ann! My Rosita Fresita (Strawberry Shortcake) doll died when it was mobbed by my brothers and their BB-guns :(

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie: :D backatcha!

Lili- Absolutely! He's just lucky he didn't find a My Little Pony head in his bed. :)

Deray- While I'm sorry she experienced a drive-by like that, I LOVE the "Rosita Fresita" name-- it never occurred to me Strawberry Shortcake would have to be called something else in other countries-- What was Blueberry Muffin's name?

stillthinking said...

Hahahah! I was cracking up and horrified! I can just picture mini-Jenn shrieking with horror and Mom frantically putting out the flames! I had a pink My Melody bunny that disappeared rather suspiciously. To this day, I think of Melody with a mix of longing and bewilderment at the way she vanished. *sighs* Well, maybe I shall have a moment of clarity when my supressed memory of microwaving my bunny will come forward. Thanks for the awesome post as always! --ST

Jenn Thorson said...

Still- Ah, I wonder if your MyMelody went the way of other kids' security blankets. Did you put out a Missing Rabbits for her? Or slap her pic on carrot juice cartons? :)

Hopefully she didn't go the way of the microwave! I don't wish that on anyone.

nonamedufus said...

Your mother's name wouldn't happen to be Kevorkian, would it?

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

This is a tragic, violent story. Nobody should vote for it. That's my opinion, anyway.

Signed,
Anonymous

Jenn Thorson said...

NoNameDufus- No, her name was Wilkes. Annie Wilkes. :)

Mike- er, Anonymous- This is actually a real improvement over the Anonymous comments I usually get. Which are in Italian, French, or Japanese, but still trying to sell male enhancement products.

unfinishedrambler said...

That is the saddest story I've read today...

...especially that you didn't tell Andy the truth. The horror.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I don't know how you do it. . . leave me laughing and crying all at the same time.

Poor Andy....not knowing the truth.

I agree with Unfinished Rambler (for once) poor little Andy. I can hear the music from Toy Story 2 playing now and see his little face...so sad. So sad....

Jenn Thorson said...

Unfinished Dude- I might have, but then I might not have. I no longer recall. Perhaps hypnosis therapy would reveal the answer. :)

Lisa- Sorry about the emotional rollercoaster. :)

L.J.L. said...

Introducing the new Campfire, Jokerface Annie . . . sure to be a big hit with all the kids . . . hilarious post, Jenn. And sad, if you happen to be a lesser-known doll called Andy.

Jenn Thorson said...

Liam- Heh, I hadn't made the Joker connection until you mentioned it, but yes, indeed-- the description's apt! I think Andy actually got off easily on this one.

I mean, sure, there's probably some guilt on his part for surviving, while Ann didn't make it. But years of therapy might help soothe that.

Anna Lefler said...

I love this! And I'm off to vote now to keep you on the island...

:-D Anna

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

This is a total tragedy and I'm so sorry for your loss. How did your heart even go on? You didn't warn us that we'd have to break out the Kleenex to read today's post.

Anonymous said...

Rosita Fresita had many friends. Their names were: Lucy Limoncito, Martita Frambuesita, Mary Mentita, Angelita Pastelito, Anita Morita, Juanito Frutín, Lupita Manzanita and others.