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In the Medium of Play-Doh
By Amy Joyce
At the age of 25, I’m starting to wonder when I’ll begin to consider myself a full-fledged adult. I have my own health insurance, a 401k from a previous employer (that counts, right?), and I do my own weekly grocery shopping. On paper, this makes me appear as what could be considered a useful member of society, but even so, I avoid labeling myself a “grown-up.” That’s reserved for people at least 10 years older than me, no matter how old I get. But while I might not claim the label, some of my current habits certainly do it for me.
For example: the best time to go to the grocery store, I’ve found, is late on Saturday evening, a routine I adopted when my partner was often working late nights at a restaurant and I was left to my own devices. After, say, 8 p.m. on a weekend night, the grocery store is never crowded, which is one my bigger pet peeves, and I can feel free of judgment when stocking up on Ukrop’s rainbow cookies. Really, though, the fact of the matter is I like doing things by myself, and I may as well take care of chores when I have the chance.
During one of these solitary trips, I was wandering up and down the aisles, and had satiated myself with three bags of broccoli instead of a pint of ice cream, but not for any reason that could be construed as “healthy”: I’ve simply been unsuccessful in locating the peach cobbler flavor of Ben and Jerry’s, and I refuse to settle. One thing about certain grocery stores is that there’s always some sort of knick-knack dispersed throughout the aisles, whether they’re fake moustaches or bags of tiny plastic dinosaurs. It just so happened to be containers of Play-Doh among the frozen foods, which also serves, inexplicably, as the greeting card aisle.
I pushed my cart by the box, the bright colors of the lids all a jumble against the plain white cardboard into which they were all nestled. Perhaps because this past winter has seemed exceptionally brutal (by Southern standards, anyway), the Play-Doh threw into sharp relief some of my earlier memories from childhood: Play-Doh wholly reminds me of the spring time.
Whether I recall sitting on a plastic Playskool picnic table outside in my family’s backyard, mashing out shapes and squeezing the colorful lumps in my toddler hands; or on the floor of the kitchen with the back door open, a breeze blowing through, and me perched on the splat mat reserved especially for indoor artistic endeavors. While my creations weren’t exclusively in the medium of Play-Doh (I had a decently sized collection of watercolor palettes), the bulk of my output did consist largely of Play-Doh flowers that had been shaped from old cookie cutters my mother had set aside specifically for this purpose.
I paused, contemplating buying one or two of the little tubs. I wanted to snap the plastic lid off and inhale that distinct salty scent that only Play-Doh has, pop the little squared-off ball into my hands, and roll the stuff absently in between my fingers. A flower, even a crudely-shaped one, might not come out of it, but it’s close enough to spring to count, and I’m not enough of an adult to say no.
Generally found at home with her nose in a book, Amy Joyce someday hopes to move to beautiful Savannah, Georgia and have a kitty cat of her very own. Sometimes she ventures out into the wide world to partake in pan-Asian cuisine and a game of trivia at a bar. But in the wise words of Tom Waits, "I might go out and have an educational and entertaining evening, but I don't have fun."
#Playskool #PlayDoh #FirstThingIEverMade
What's the first thing you remember making? A mud pie? A Barbie doll dress? A comic? Send us your essay about this memory and any relevant details. Please include a brief bio. Due April 30th!