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Saturday, July 15, 2017

(2) THE DOLLS ARE KNOWN AS NAUGHTY NUDIES.

      Ed has a new pastime--collecting dolls, real dolls.  When I first became aware of this, I couldn’t resist an ex-wifely wink and the observation that he couldn’t have picked a more appropriate hobby.  His friend Aliceann, an avid collector herself, aroused his interest.  She and I have a mutual admiration society that barely leaves room for Ed and Jack to get a word in.  Jack is very much a part of this ongoing soap opera.  After circling each other warily for several years, the two men have discovered they have a lot in common.  Like Hope and Crosby, their humorous sallies mesh nicely, and they have an empathetic understanding of a certain person’s frailties, which makes them practically blood brothers. 
     A couple of times a month we all pile into Ed’s Toyota and go to the Squantum flea market to see what’s new in old dolls and to browse through the bric-a-brac displayed on a multitude of tables.  We’re constantly losing each other in the crowd, and this can be frustrating when you come across something appealing but want your pals to take a look before you plunk down hard cash.  So you go searching for the others, and by the time you find them, you can’t remember where your hot item was located.  Or what it was.
      On one of our excursions, Jack parted with $2.00 for a charming statuette of a seated child, apparently made of soapstone.  At no extra charge, the nice lady threw in a similar figurine with a nick in the back of her head.  On the way home, we paid a visit to our friend of boat-sinking fame, Marion Marsh, who is recuperating from a heart attack.  She thinks we’re all dotty, but she likes company.  Jack showed her his bargain, then noticed that the thrown-in figurine had a broken foot.   
     “That’s all right,” he said, “I’ll just round off the other one.  No one will notice she has short feet.”
     Marion gave a whoop. “A fool and his money are soon parted!”
     The next morning Jack called to describe a mishap. 
      “I put the dolls in the sink to soak off some stains with a solution of detergent and water.  This morning, I found a lot of powdery stuff floating on the surface, and underneath, a couple of shapeless little blobs.”
     “Wait’ll I tell Marion!” I laughed.
     “Do you have to?” Jack asked plaintively.  “I don’t think I could take that ‘fool and his money’ business twice in a row.”
February 10, 1980
     Marion has reminded us that she was the one who started Ed’s doll collection.  A few years ago she gave him a couple of tiny bisque bathing beauties she had picked up at a yard sale for a pittance.  He admired them, so she said he could have them.  It turned out they were made in Germany in the early 20s and are known as “Naughty Nudies.”  They currently sell for around $50-$75.  Ed now has ten Naughty Nudies arranged in a lighted terrarium on a simulated beach. 
      In Ed’s guestroom is a large commercial showcase filled with fifteen or twenty antique dolls, posed in attractive groups by Aliceann.  There are dolls on the bed, dolls standing on living-room bookshelves, dolls, dolls, everywhere you look.  His mother-of-thousands plants have made a jungle of his sun-room, and now my ex-husband has become the father of thousands.  He has decided to remodel his garage, turning it into a paneled room that will house his collection.  Unless Ava-Baby changes her mind.  If she doesn’t marry Mr. Wonderful, Ed will invite her and her two sons to move in with him.  At this point, his house has only two bedrooms, so he’d need the extra living space.  And a therapist, if you ask me.
     He still claims I could solve all his problems. A month ago he called me from Fort Lauderdale with a proposition that was almost irresistible. He has asked me before to marry him or live with him but never quite so fetchingly as this:
     “Why don’t you marry me? We could live down here in the winter and up there in the summer, we could play a lot of golf, we’ll travel and go on cruises the way you always wanted to—and you can even keep your alimony!”    

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