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East of Eden: A friend struggles with an uncontrollable urge to own a Jeannie doll or two.
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, because of an impulsive purchase that he felt only I would understand. (Yes, it was a male pal, and that’s the only identifiable info I’ll divulge.) He was extremely distraught because he was looking to purchase one thing—just one simple NECESSARY household thing—on eBay, and instead he ended up buying a trio of “I Dream of Jeannie” dolls. As he wrote to me, “I think this could end up becoming a nightmare!”

The three dolls weren’t related—two were vintage and the other modern—but they were linked by their interpretation of the lovely and loyal genie portrayed by Barbara Eden back in the 1960s.

To say that Eden played Jeannie is an understatement; she embodied it, and the emphasis is on “body.”

During an era where lots of sitcom husbands and wives were shown sleeping in side-by-side twin beds, Jeannie blazed across television screens. She was blond, bosomy, belly-baring, and pretty much willing to do anything for the astronaut with whom she lived. Yes, she called the man who found her magical genie bottle her “Master,” and the submissive quality must have been a thrill for every red-blooded man who ever watched the program. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RUNW-J4PM4

My friend was a boy when this was on, and he recognized her nubile ways, even though he was way too young to act upon them. (He also grew up to prefer the majors of the world to the majorettes, but that’s a whole other story.) However, Jeannie became a special symbol to him: she represented happy evenings at home, gathered around the black-and-white television set, then the color console, with his whole family laughing and chatting. It was his father’sI_Dream_of_Jeannie_TV_opening favorite show—hmmm, I wonder why?—and the sight of Barbara Eden always prompted his dad to say, “Now, that is a woman!”

Drawn into this slippery slide down memory lane, he couldn’t help himself when he saw the incredible likenesses of her for sale and took part in the auction. He won, and now the dolls majornelsonandjeannieSMALLare on their way to him. They’re set to arrive this week, not by magic flying carpet but by the always reliable UPS truck.

Why my friend is so upset is because he had made a new year’s resolution NOT to buy any more impromptu purchases. Rather than acquiring more and more dolls, he was going to keep a “dream” journal where he’d record the dolls he was yearning for, thinking about, desiring. At the end of every month, if he still felt the same way about any of the mentioned dolls, he’d begin a new page devoted to that doll, and so on, and so forth, until he had weeded his list down to the few dolls he JUST had to have.

If all went according to plan, he’d buy maybe three or four dolls for the whole year. Flash forward, 2011 is only a few weeks old, and he has already bought three dolls. He is angry at himself for being so weak, embarrassed that he couldn’t keep a commitment, and also afraid about how to explain the arrival of these dolls to his partner. He had made a big, vocal deal out of changing his ways in the year ahead.

I told “Cameron” (not his real name, I’ve dubbed him this in honor of the brilliant Eric Stonestreet from “Modern Family”) that he shouldn’t apologize; he shouldn’t fret. Resolutions aren’t meant to destroy you; they’re not supposed to take the essence of “you” out of you. A resolution is supposed to help a person achieve a goal or to improve upon a nasty habit or a horrible vice. Was his doll buying breaking the bank, destroying his family’s harmony, causing tension to override his house’s happiness?

The answers: no, no, and no!

So, why did Cameron decide to make this vow to pare down his doll purchasing? He admitted because it seemed to be the most self-centered thing he did: spending hard-earned money on playthings.

“After all, what self-respecting man NEEDS a doll?”

Probably none. And no self-respecting woman NEEDS a doll, either. Dolls are not staples of life. They are not foodstuffs or necessities. They are luxuries, and more than that, they are wish fulfillments.

For many people, finding the doll that has eluded them all their life is a dream come true. So, Cameron’s dream journal was perfectly named. He was only “off’ in how he was attempting to use it, as a means to crush a dream rather than pursue it.

We chatted about his plight, and he’s decided that scooping up three Jeannies may not have nelsonandjeannieinhandThumbbeen a rational decision, but he no longer has to dream about owning another one. He had a dream and he achieved it.

To make him feel better, I explained that Barbara Eden would have wholeheartedly approved of his recklessness. She has a whole collection of dolls and memorabilia saluting her legendaryBarbara-Eden-Holding-A-Jeannie-Doll-i-dream-of-jeannieSMALL role as the guileless genie. If Eden has them in her own personal collection, why shouldn’t Cameron? After all, even his dad would give this decision a thumbs-up. “Barbara Eden—now that is a woman,” his father used to say.

What about “Barbara Eden—that is a collector!” It sounds good to me.

How do you feel about a new year’s resolution to alter your doll-buying habits? Have you ever done it? How did it work out for you?  Or, are you comfortable with this outlet for your dreams and desires? All of us at DOLLS want to know.

Photo Captions

Caption: “I Dream of Jeannie” opened each week with a cartoon version of how she came to find herself living with a swinging bachelor astronaut. The pairing of Major Nelson and Jeannie pre-dated the “will they or won’t they” wonderings of “Cheers” and “Moonlighting.” Madame Alexander has made a cute version of the out-of-this-world power couple. [Top-right]

Caption: Jeannie was able to shift sizes effortlessly on the comedy series. It helped her fit back into her opulent, deluxe genie bottle. Here, the character is nestled in the major’s hand. [Bottom-left]

Caption: Decades later, Barbara Eden proudly shows off one of the many dolls crafted in her likeness. [Bottom-right]

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I heard from "Cameron," and he says thanks for the encouragement and support. He's still going to rein in his doll spending, but he's refusing to beat himself up over it. He's begging Mattel and Alexander to STOP making so many cute TV-inspired dolls. He can't resist.
Stephanie , February 02, 2011
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Nothing wrong with that kind of collecting, she's really cute! I hate to admit I remember watching the show though...it dates me! smilies/cheesy.gif
Debbie Ritter , January 27, 2011 | url
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"Bewitched" dolls can be found online--both original versions and recent re-creations. I haven't seen an Uncle Arthur doll, though. Perhaps that's something for a doll customizer to tackle!
Stephanie , January 27, 2011
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Three Jeannie dolls? Why stop there! Go for all of them, Cameron. How many can it add up to? Maybe 10 or 12 different versions. Buy them all. If they don't fit on your shelves, you can always put some into bottles! Don't give up on your dreams!
Hilary , January 26, 2011
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I make no apologies or resolutions for my doll collecting!
Billie , January 26, 2011
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Lol! That is not a good resolution! This is why I don't make any. If your collection is not bothering anyone, does not make you broke or is in a huge mess... I say go buy some more dolls! If they make you happy it's worth it!
If I can afford to buy my dream doll or bear... I go for it.
Melanie
Melanie Clark , January 26, 2011 | url
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i think your friend cameron was bewitched....oh, yes, that's another show! maybe he can find a pair of sam and uncle arthur dolls.
patricia park , January 26, 2011 | url

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