I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I have nobody to blame but myself. The whole thing is my own darned fault. I can’t even figure out a way to point the finger at Tom, and I’ve really sharpened my skills set in that area over the years too. Nobody in my family even knew I was going to do this. Laura didn’t even ask me for it once. She didn’t ask Santa. I brought this all on myself. And now I will be living with my punishment for who knows how many years to come.
Laura got Amazing Amanda for Christmas. Heard of her? Amazon.com’s product description says this:
Amazing Amanda is one of the first ever interactive large dolls that utilizes voice recognition, sensory technology and articulated animatronics, and the result is revolutionary, nurturing play. Amanda is a toddler who speaks, is getting potty trained, and eats the foods that toddlers love. She can recognize her “mommy’s” voice and can respond after just hearing it three times!
Back in the day, Audio-Animatronics were the creation of Disney’s original Imagineers, and the term was trademarked in the 1960s. The Enchanted Tiki Room was one of the earliest displays of this technology. The exotic “birds” move their mouths as they speak and sing, turn their heads as they “talk” to one another, and while their movements are a little course, they are “enchanting” as the name of the attraction promises. At least I think so, although I admit to being easily amused. Eventually, Imagineers went on to perfect their craft to such a degree that I was able to fall madly in lust with Johnny Depp’s Audio-Animatron’s incarnation of Captain Jack Sparrow when I recently rode Pirates of the Caribbean. Even Johnny Depp was impressed with his Audio-Animatronic self.
Toys incorporating Audio-Animatronics have been around for a while, certainly since the days of Teddy Ruxpin, introduced a couple of decades back. Kristen and Courtney had one of them in the ‘80s. Teddy’s mouth and nose moved, his eyes blinked, and he “read” story books. Teddy’s movements weren’t particularly realistic, and as such he was neither freaky nor intimidating. He looked like a cozy ol’ teddy bear (although he was packin’ a loaded cassette deck in his gastrointestinal region), and you could even hear mechanical noises as he moved his mouth and eyes. He was a lot like those birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Amazing Amanda, on the other hand, is like a little blond doll straight out of Disney’s Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction, except not. Because unlike kindly old Abe, Amanda sits in your living room demanding you do her bidding. And she does more than simply speak, she “listens.” I even hesitated to put the word listens in quotes because Amanda must be listening; her responses are given in accordance to that which is said to her. Her facial movements are pretty realistic, and thus freaky. She laughs, cries, and demands to be hugged. She tells you she wants to be fed, and is particular about which of her faux foods you offer. Don’t even try to feed her pizza if she’s asked for pasta. She knows. And she tells you so. But this isn’t even the worst part. Amanda is in the throes of potty training. What person in her right mind would willingly bring home a potty training toddler, particularly one who won’t be able to grow up and sneak Grey Goose into the nursing home for her? Thankfully, the food and drink Amanda “consumes” isn’t real, and blessedly she has no holes in her nethers from which anything comes out. But when she’s gotta go, she’s gotta go. And she tells you so. When she was commanded to do so, Laura put the doll on her little potty seat. Then Amanda elicited gales of laughter from everyone in our living room when she began to make grunting noises. I am not making this up.
As I think about it, Amazing Amanda may not be the worst thing to have happened to me in the 2006. With birthday money from Uncle Andy last year, Laura bought Baby Alive. Baby Alive eats “real” food and drinks “real” juice. Then Baby Alive has to have her diaper changed. Moreover, Baby Alive requires periodic high colonics to keep her “food” from clogging her insides. How do I get myself into these situations? Wait! I just thought of a way to blame Tom! If he had done the Christmas shopping, he would never have brought home Amazing Amanda. There. I feel so much better.