In the children’s classic, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Laura’s very first doll was nothing but a corncob wrapped in a handkerchief. Later in the story, for Christmas she received a more human-looking—indeed, a more doll-looking—rag doll she named Charlotte.
Our daughter Fiona had something of a reverse experience with a toy collection of characters from the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. (I hereby confess: Every time I watch it, I get all teary-eyed at the end.)
For Christmas 1994, Santa Claus brought five year old Fiona the plastic figures of Mrs. Potts the Teapot, Chip the Chipped Teacup, Cogsworth the Clock, and Lumiere the Candelabrum. She was delighted with them, and I still remember when it was her bedtime Christmas night, how she scooped all of them up and took them to bed with her, even though they weren’t as soft and cuddly as the stuffed animals favored by her older brother.
All was well until several months later, when for reasons that will always remain a mystery to us, she put all the characters save Mrs. Potts (whom we can only surmise was granted clemency due to her generous girth) into the microwave and cooked them.
As far as I can recall, that was the first and last time Fiona ever operated the microwave.
Oddly enough, she did it while Mr. Lucky and I were in the family room watching the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, not too long after the scene where Robin Williams accidentally set his fake boobs ablaze.
Flames danced inside the microwave, smoke wafted throughout the kitchen, and black soot dusted the kitchen cabinets, which we planned to replace anyway. Fortunately Fiona was not hurt; in fact, she behaved with amazing aplomb throughout the entire episode—as if this were just another ordinary day chez Lingefelt. (Hmm, now that I think of it . . .)
If one good thing came out of what could have been a disaster on many fronts, it was the discovery that our smoke alarm was kaput. (The ones in our newest home work almost too well. They shriek in horror every time Mr. Lucky broils or even fries something.)
Alas, nothing could be done for Chip, Cogsworth, or Lumiere, and by that time, they were no longer available at The Disney Store, and this was back in the days before we might have been able to find them online.
But Fiona figured out how to deal with it. The next time she played with Mrs. Potts, she substituted a regular Corelle coffee cup for Chip, and stole my alarm clock to take the place of Cogsworth.
The part of Lumiere, meanwhile, was now played by my old breast pump.
Somehow I think that roguish candelabrum would have approved—and maybe wished the curse of the beautiful sorceress had turned him into a breast pump instead.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then improvisation is the daughter of imagination.