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Monster Lilli by Jan Stinchcomb

I

n the early days, back in Germany, Lilli was a kind of entertainer, a comedienne. She was the blond, beautiful and voluptuous. She always had the punch line. And then they took her feminine essence, her soul, and squeezed her down into a little plastic doll. People adored her, men especially. She could remember the first time a man ran his fingers over her body, pausing to press his thumb against her tiny, rock-hard breasts. This man was surrounded by his colleagues, all of them laughing out loud. Perhaps there was a woman somewhere in the scene, a secretary or a typist, an office worker. A woman just like Lilli. If they were so much alike, why did the woman sneer at her? Always that look of embarrassment, then judgment, followed by dismissal. Dismissal! It was as if Lilli was supposed to be ashamed of herself. But was any of this her fault? Eventually another woman appeared, “discovered” her, and brought her out of Germany and into the miracle of America, where everything was possible. And everything was confusing. In America Lilli discovered that she, like most immigrants, was 24 • bohemia • october 2013

both welcomed and reviled. There were many unkind words--those never ceased--but there were also many dollars. Lilli sold and sold, flew off the shelves. They could not get enough of her, even though they changed her name and copied her over and over, constantly modifying her hair and clothes and profession. But she was allowed to keep that impossible body, the only one she had ever known, and she never forgot her German name: Lilli. In America she also found love. This love did not come from Ken, the one they had created for her. No, Ken was stiff and soulless, an accessory, as pointless as any trophy wife. It was not Ken who loved her. It was not any other doll. Nor was it her supposed savior, the woman who had brought her over from Germany. It was a little girl. Or rather, a legion of little girls, wide-eyed and trusting, free of judgment, taking in the world as it was offered to them, a world full of people and things both ugly and beautiful. Lilli looked up at them from her plastic prison and saw their lovely little-girl faces. What she saw on those faces was desire,

a child’s pure desire for a doll. And it was always Lilli who won, despite all the other dolls out there, despite all the terrible things they said about her. She even survived a boycott. Lilli went into many American homes. She lived through thousands of childhoods. And because she was plastic, they put her through hell, those little girls, who imagined Lilli to be indestructible. It was as if they thought she did not have feelings of her own. Remember: nobody ever asked Lilli what she wanted. And what did she want? She wanted to go back to the old days, the simple days, of living in Germany in her neat little flat--there had been a flat, she was sure of it. There were days of simple, blissful office work and effortless sexual innuendo. She was a pretty blond. She was good-natured. What did these Americans want from her? She had not asked to come here. And who did they think she was, anyway? Her looks told the whole story. It was as plain as day what a doll like Lilli, a girl like Lilli, could offer. And yet they gave her to little girls. Surely they trusted her.

17. Bohemia -- October 2013  

Bohemia features art, photography, short stories, poetry, fashion, music, and more.

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