My original plan was to write a column about a troubling issue raised by Ken Clark of Kent, Wash., concerning the 1964 Shirley Ellis hit song "The Name Game." As you know if you follow world events, the rules of "The Name Game" require you to treat the first letter of the person's name "like it wasn't there," and replace it with the letters B, F and M. So for example Salman Rushdie's name would be: Salman Salman Bo Balman Banana Fanna Fo Falman Fee Fie Moe Malman.
What Ken Clark wants to know is: What if the person's name is Al? Eliminating the "A," you'd get Al Al Bo Bl, Banana Fanna Fo Fl, Fe Fie Moe Ml. Which would be ridiculous.
I am hoping that this issue will be addressed by other leading syndicated commentators such as William William Bo Billiam Banana Fanna Fo Filliam F. Buckley. I, however, need to deal with another, even more troubling issue that was just brought to my attention by several alert readers, namely: the Pregnant Judy Doll.
This is a doll that is being advertised for $14.95 in various magazines and newspapers. You might have seen the ad: It says "Judy Is Having a Baby!" and there's a picture of Judy, a blue-eyed doll with a perky smile and 11 pounds of blue eye shadow and a blond hairdo the size of Iraq. She looks a lot like Barbie, except that she obviously has what leading medical authorities refer to as a Bun in the Oven.
"Judy is more than a toy," the ad states. "She's a natural way for your child to learn while playing."
I have no problem with using dolls as a teaching device. Most of what I know about the human anatomy, such as that it is medically incorrect to have a foot sticking out from the middle of your face, I learned as a child from studying Mr. Potato Head.
But the Pregnant Judy Doll has some dangerously misleading anatomical characteristics. The way she works is, when it's time for her to have the baby, you remove her tummy. That's right: Her tummy, which is shaped like half a walnut shell, pops right off. There's a photograph in the ad of Judy going through a delivery: A hand has lifted off her tummy, and there's a perky little baby inside with its arms and legs folded up neatly like a TV tray. Judy is paying no attention to the fact that a giant hand has removed her tummy. She's looking into the distance with her perky smile, as if to say: "What fun to deliver a baby! Perhaps this afternoon I shall play tennis!"
The reason she can smile is, she has another tummy. Yes. And it's a flat tummy. You pop it on her, and suddenly, seconds after delivery, Judy has the body of a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. (Judy comes with both tummies. The ad says you can also buy some accessories, sold separately, including maternity outfits, a crib, a tub and "Judy's Husband Charlie.")
I have some big problems with using a toy like this to teach young people about childbirth. I saw my son, Robby, get born. Well, OK, I didn't actually watch Robby come out. I had mentally divided my wife, Beth, into two major sectors: (1) the Head Sector and (2) the Rest of Beth Sector. I was concerned that I'd pass out if I saw what was happening in Sector Two. So I focused my attention exclusively on Sector One, Beth's head, trying to keep its morale up.
"You're doing great!" I would tell the head, patting it in a reassuring manner.
"Awwwrrrrooooggggghhhh," the head would say, looking like it might attempt to bite me.
Meanwhile, in the other sector, scary things were happening that I cannot describe to you in detail because I squinched my eyes up whenever I looked in that direction. But I can tell you this much: They did not pop Beth's tummy off like a walnut shell and lift Robby out, and he was not at all perky, and despite the fact that Beth is a naturally slim person it was some time before her flat tummy arrived in the mail.
So we need to ask ourselves whether it's a good thing, exposing impressionable young children to the Pregnant Judy Doll. We don't want to raise a generation of new mothers who have highly unrealistic expectations about childbirth and show up in the delivery room carrying tennis rackets. I think the government should look into this, and that is why I am urging you to write to President George Herbert Herbert Bo Berbert Banana Fanna Fo Ferbert Fee Fie Moe Merbert Walker Bush.