Made in Thailand

As some of you know, my father-in-law lives in Thailand.
He moved there a couple years ago to marry a woman he met online, and every 6 months or so, he comes to visit. Usually, he’ll bring a gift or gifts for Ariel – often clothing. But one time he brought a doll.
Let me just say that I’ve always been entertained by items from non-English-speaking countries that have English words on them. The kind of products that are meant to stay in their home country, not to be brought here.
When I was a little girl, some family friends who live in Japan brought me several little trinkets. One of them was a Hello Kitty glue stick (this was the mid-nineties, and Hello Kitty was not the American obsession it is now). Inscribed in cutesy white letters around the glue stick was something like this:
“Hello. How are you. Good. I’m fine, too!”
Thus began a mild fascination with wannabe English products.
Anyway, this doll from Thailand was fascinating. She was hard plastic, white-skinned with bright blonde hair. She looked like a toddler, and she was probably about a foot tall. She stood upright in her little white shoes, and when you squeezed her stomach, she sang and walked.
At first, it was the walking that was so interesting. I mean, this doll did not have abnormally huge feet, and it didn’t seem like it should be able to balance. But it did! You could set her on the table and she would hobble around to the music. Wow!
Then I started thinking, Hey, this song sounds familiar! The sound quality was too poor to really make out words, just general tones and inflections, but the tune was so very familiar to me that I felt like the words were on the tip of my tongue.
After going crazy for a couple days trying to figure it out, it finally hit me!
Make me walk, make me talk,
Do whatever you please.
I can act like a star,
I can beg on my knees.

That’s right, this doll was singing Barbie Girl.

Just the one verse, twice through. Apparently, the meaning of the lyrics had been lost in translation, and this doll manufacturer was unaware that, despite being about a doll, the song was not actually appropriate for children.

The words would have been impossible to understand without prior knowledge of the song, so this discovery was not enough reason to boot the doll from our house.

Then, one day, maybe 2 months after we got it, I went to pick up the doll and felt something slimy beneath my fingers. The batteries had burst, and the back of the doll was covered in battery acid.

I quickly tossed the doll and washed my hands. And that was the end of the doll from Thailand.

There wasn’t really a point to this story…

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