of wooden croaks and racist dolls

There are these wooden noise-making frogs you see everyplace here, and which I’ve sighted at a few LOOK AT THESE FUCKING GIFTS FROM ACROSS THE VERY SEAS spots back in the states. They’re hollowed-out and have a spinal ridge which you are meant to run a wooden stick along, producing a distinct, resonant croaking sound. Most of them fit in the palm of an adult hand. Hill-tribe folks wander around the night markets with baskets full of jewelry and such and a wooden frog in one hand, croaking it to attract attention.

My mother hates them.

It was her hate that led me to think of them as a gift for my nephew. He is two, and likes things that make noise, and as the uncle it’s my job to give him things that make noise and so drive my sister up the wall through proxy. I thought about it at length, and decided that were I to get him one it couldn’t be one of the common, hand-size frogs you see every day, oh no:

king of monsters
That thing in its mouth is the stick you run down its spine. They’re usually the size of an index finger, but this thing? Kills any child under the age of six with a single blow, making it the perfect gift for a two year old.

It was crouched in the back corner of a low table down a side-lane of sunday market, looming over a row of progressively smaller frogs. There were two men at the table. I pointed. “How much for the big one?”

“Which one?”

“The big one, right there.”

“Ah, this one, this one?” He put his hand on the one in front of the one I was interested in, maybe half its size.

“No, the BIG one, right there.”

They looked at each other.

“The big one?”

“Yes, the big one.”

“You sure?”

At length I convinced them I wanted to see the big one.

I asked him how much he wanted. We haggled, etc.

There was no other big frog, when I went by later they had filled its spot with two matching elephant carvings.

That was the first thing I hunted for in my brief time at Sunday market last night. The second, and most important of all:

el-oh-el?

At last I can write “racist dolls” on my customs form.

You see things like this around. There was a similar item advertised in the Thai Airlines duty free catalogue last year.

Note the dolls with little balls on their brows, a simpler variation on those I’ve seen elswhere with more elaborate hilltribe clothes and extended, ringed necks labelled “hill tribe doll”. It’s like they’ve repurposed racist iconography for a wonderful new culturally-specific role.

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~ by ironcupshrug on 11/30/2009.

2 Responses to “of wooden croaks and racist dolls”

  1. You are an inspiration to uncles everywhere!

    Also, do you know what happened to SB? I cannot find it!

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