It is not the usual thing for boys to be afraid of dolls. Nevertheless, I knew a boy, who grew up to be a star athlete and a model citizen, who had a dreadful experience with a certain doll. I must not reveal his name, lest he be embarrassed by this anecdote. For the sake of convenience, I’ll call him Ariobarzanes.
As he was a new boy in the neighborhood, my friends and I decided to introduce him to our local wilderness, preparing him with lurid tales of Hangman’s Tree, which stood at the very heart of it. To this day, we whispered to him, as we followed the trail beside the creek, some evil force continued to string up people from that tree. But it ought to be safe to go there in the daytime. Probably.
Meanwhile, my friend Ellen, a very good tree climber, went on ahead to set the stage.
We had poor Ario pretty well pumped up by the time we entered the clearing where the tree glowered down on all of Middlesex County. And there Bobby and I stopped short, pointing and crying out, “Oh, no, not again! Oh, no!”
A hapless little doll hung from the lowest branch, swaying dismally in the wind.
With a great cry, Ariobarzanes turned and ran all the way back home without stopping even once, showing great promise of the track star he would one day be. He didn’t even need to use the path: he made one of his own.
I admit that this was a naughty prank, but Ario soon laughed it off and he and I became great friends. Best freakin’ shortstop we ever had, too.
But now you see, I’m sure, that under the right circumstances, a boy can be scared by a doll.