Wandering through a local estate liquidator’s shop last week, this little fellow caught my eye. He stood in a glass case, carelessly dressed and dreadfully sun faded. His hakama had been tied up as if it were a pinafore, and his face was cracked and poorly repaired.
Still, I thought he had a charming smile and asked if I could examine him.
Handling a doll such as this one is like handling an infant. You have to mind how fragile he is, cradle his head and support his legs. And as with a human baby, you marvel just a bit at how delicate and sweet his fingers and toes are.
“Isn’t she pretty?” smiled the shop assistant. “He,” I corrected, looking under the kimono and silently thanking the artist who thought to make him anatomically correct. “It’s a boy.”
I didn’t have any cash on me at the time, so the assistant gave me the shop owner’s card and told me to call her if I wanted to negotiate on the price. Ten minutes later as I was approaching the freeway on-ramp that would take me home, I pulled off the road and called, my heart racing.
No answer. “Please leave a message.” I hung up.
Later that evening after doing some research on ningyo (Japanese dolls) I called again, this time letting the owner know I was interested in making a cash offer for the doll. The next day she called back and accepted my offer. I raced to the shop, trying to stay calm. I knew he was in poor condition; was he even worth what I was offering, or was I getting one heck of a deal?
Once I handed over the cash and collected the doll, it didn’t matter. He’d already melted my heart.