Kids for Cash, the Cabbage Patch, and Me (long & rambly)

Way back yonder in second grade, like every other girl, I simply had to get a Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas or my life would be over then and there. Why? Because all the other girls did, of course, and I was already enough of an oddball for wanting a chemistry set and Voltron action figures and a CPK would help me blend in with the herd.

At the time I didn’t know about the Cabbage Patch Death Riot Bloodbath of Doom because my mother didn’t want me hearing about “all that bad stuff,” I only knew there “weren’t any” even though you couldn’t spit without hitting a commercial, magazine article, or person yammering on about those damn dolls. Nor was I getting any Voltron stuff because that was “boy stuff.” So I wasn’t getting what I really wanted, I wasn’t getting something that would give me a smidgen of playground cred, and I was convinced that that Christmas was gonna suck (the strongest oath I knew at the time, guaranteed to send my mother into conniptions.)

Christmas morning (having endured the traditional Christmas Eve dinner at the grandparents’ house and my evil cousin, who got a CPK for her October birthday and never missed a chance to literally throw it in my face) I was reluctantly dragged downstairs by the sibs, who were very wink-wink nudge-nudge about something special. Once downstairs, a large box was thrust into my lap as my paparazzo sister lurked with camera ready. Rip, scrabble, unwrap. Cabbage Patch Kid! Yes! Eat it, Evil Cousin! Protective playground camouflage!

When I later challened my mother as to where it came from since she said there weren’t any, she smiled knowingly and said Santa Claus brought it.

Two sidenotes to this part of the story: the playground camouflage thing didn’t happen, as most girls didn’t get a CPK that Christmas and those of us who did were instead made the targets of ridicule. As I got older I came to realize they were just hella jealous; at the time I cried a lot because a marching army of sneering 7-yo. girls is scarier than any mess of Storm Troopers that Darth Vader could summon up.

Also, my mother steadfastly refused to acknowledge the doll’s origins (Santa became “I forget” once I quit believing in him) until I was at least in high school, maybe later, when she finally admitted my uncle’s late father-in-law (who had been a big man in Luzerne County at the time) had gotten them for me and my uncle’s two daughters.

Let us zoom ahead to the Kids for Cash CLusterfuck which I fear has made the Luzerne County court system forever synonymous with “gerbil turds.” Long story short: two very powerful, long time, arrogant sonsabitches judges were being paid lots of money to send juvenile offenders to kiddie prison for very minor offenses. The juvie hoosegows in question were owned in part by a chap named Robert Powell, who even now is taking the stand against disgraced gerbil turd… I mean former judge, Mark Ciavarella.

This morning, I get my Rice Krispies and start reading the paper. Of course the Ciavarella trial is all over the front page, including a little comic relief including a picture of a Cabbage Patch Kid. It seems our Mr. Powell was in the habit of giving Christmas gifts to the Ciavarellas from an early age. Including 15 Cabbage Patch Kids.

The conversation went kinda like this:

Me: Did you see this thing about Powell and the Cabbage Patches?

Mom: Guess you know how (uncle’s FIL) got them now. He (Powell) wasn’t just trying to kiss Ciavarella’s ass.

Me: Guess I do.

And we had a good laugh over it, though I can’t help feeling somewhat… dirty. Makes me want to go wash my hands, or possibly burn the doll (I still have it somewhere) at midnight and bury the ashes in an unmarked grave guarded by powerful amulets.

Footnote about my mother: former schoolteacher, widowed suddenly at age 42, she somehow managed to support 6 kids ranging in age from 19 to 6 (moi) on the wages she got working at a Hallmark shop before finding an office job a few years later. I have no idea how the hell she did it. She was deliberately close-mouthed about the CPK that Christmas because she wanted me to have a great surprise when I opened the box. Knowing her, she was probably also reluctant to accept the doll from (uncle’s FIL) if she thought it was part of political ass-kissing even if (uncle’s FIL) paid Powell for it.