True Confessions of an Action Figure

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

by Louise Foerster


It only happened once.

I swear it was only one lousy time.

And I promise you it won’t happen again — not as long as I’m in charge.

Darth Vader and GI Joe started it. Buzz Lightyear might claim he came up with the idea, but you know Buzz, all talk and no action.

Here’s the true story.

Bonnie and I are in the living room. We’re working on her book report. I’d finally gotten her to finish reading the book and start writing — for crumb’s sake, it’s an easy reader with a picture on every page. Even a fidgety kid like her can make it from start to finish.

Where was her mother?

Mothers don’t write book reports — not even for second graders. Not if they’re Bonnie’s mother and believe Bonnie must do her own work.

I totally agree. They might be messy and erratic, but kids are much smarter than anyone thinks. Take it from a Barbie Doll who knows what it is to be underestimated. For generations, our slinky outfits and perky smiles have given us unparalleled influence over the most powerful individuals on the planet.

Anyway, Bonnie’s mother and brother are next door at a three year old’s birthday party. Her hair-pulling, snotty-faced little brother has a best friend — and they’re only three. (Bonnie and I are still working on that best friend thing. She’ll get there. I never fail.)

So, we finally make it to the end of the book and are going to start writing when action figures burst through the front door. There are guns blazing and bombs whizzing and tanks roaring and smell assaulting…Do not get me started on the smell. Action figures never bathe if you give them choice. Which I don’t, but these ones had gone rogue.

Oh, wait. That’s not entirely accurate. Let me start again.

Sweet, earnest Bonnie and I were writing her treatise when a Molotov cocktail flies through the bay window. Yes, right through the pretty new curtains. The family’s heirloom vase from England smashes on the floor.

I smelled Smirnoff. My blood boiled. The over-testosteroned numbskulls had raided my private stock.

Bonnie and I were dousing the fire when there was a boom from the back of the house. GI Joe and Spiderman smashed my dream car through the back door. Batman and Scooby Doo crash landed the Millennium Falcon in the swimming pool. The A-Team tangled helicopters in the swing set. Bombs took out the rose bushes. Motorcycles tore up the lawn.

Then action figure idiots charged into the house. Bonnie’s mother would have gone out of her mind over the mess and yelling. Inside voices, she’d holler and then she’d make them clean up their mess — as if action figures ever do what you say.

Or course, I’m not just anyone. They stop yelling when this Barbie tells them to be quiet. They clean up their mess.

When they’re done crying, I figure out what happened. The nitwits were bored. When they couldn’t decide what to do, someone came up with the bright idea of doing a sneak attack. My money’s on Darth Vader with a strong second from GI Joe.

See, Darth Vader wanted chocolate cupcakes with sparkly sprinkles. The Incredible Hulk was desperate to wreck something. GI Joe wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted— poor sot has been concussed so many times it’s hard for him to think. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wanted pizza — it’s always eating pizza for those reptiles…along with Scooby Doo and Shaggy.

Slowly, I got them sorted them out. It took tears and snot and smears and cursing, but I prevailed. Of course, I did. That’s who I am.

Darth Vader drove my dream car to the auto body shop with a stop for cupcakes at my Barbie Bakery. Scooby and Shaggy and the Turtles went out for pizza. The Hulk squeezed into a tank and took off. GI Joe dove into the wading pool — another concussion, but he didn’t lose consciousness — and Batman promised to watch over him. I got the Stormtrooper uniform I had my eye on — and so did Skipper and Tutti and Todd. The other action figures repaired the house and cleaned up the yard.

When things were quiet again, Bonnie worked on her book report. Thanks to her outstanding writing coach, the final version was an excellent critique with diagrams, footnotes, and striking metaphors. That girl is so lucky to have me at her side.

Then GI Joe stole the book report to draw maps.

And that’s why Bonnie can’t turn in her book report.

Here’s a note from Bonnie’s mother. She suggests we put this whole book report thing behind us.

I totally agree.

Let’s let bygones be bygones. Besides, I have to get in my Smirnoff order before the Millennium Falcon takes off. You better believe those low-life action figures are paying.

Thank you for your time. I promise this is the last time there will be any such shenanigans — not on my watch.


Originally featured in The Weekly Knob, September 28,2019

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