Children get to see things with a purity denied us jaded adults. Take the O.J. Simpson doll, for instance ($6.50, from Shindana Toys). Its full title will warm a kid's heart—"The Juice, O.J. Simpson, Super Pro, 9½-inch, Fully Jointed O.J. Action Figure." Because it's mostly for boys, they don't call it a "doll." "Fully Jointed Action Figure" is a lot more masculine.
The figure is frighteningly detailed. It has slightly too-perfect O.J. features, a perfect O.J. haircut, teeth that are television-white, and it comes dressed in a blue-and-white football uniform, complete with a tiny helmet and even a little football. There are no scars from knee operations, no contusions, abrasions or grass stains. The O.J. doll smiles widely, just as if it were listening to a tiny Howard Co-sell. In fact, the only thing that differentiates it from the 6'1" O.J. is that, as far as I know, the real one doesn't have "Hong Kong" written across the small of his back. For all I know, he may be getting that done right now, though.
My 6-year-old daughter played with the O.J. doll for a while, but she let her Bionic Woman doll give the Juice a vicious karate chop that put him on the injured reserve list, so I keep him in my study now where the Bionic Woman can't get at him.
Kids love the O.J. Action Figure. They can make him sit, stand, take hand-offs and run through a broken field over the living room carpet. He's as near the real O.J. as you can get without $2.5 million and an announcer's contract. But, naturally, I want much more from my O.J. doll.
December 20, 1976
For instance, the doll carries the number 32 on its jersey, but has no Buffalo Bill insignia on uniform or helmet. Also, I want a 9½-inch figure of Carroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the miniature Rams, to call up O.J. in Buffalo and try to sign him to an itty-bitty contract, with even tinier fine print.
I also want him to have a plaid suit, little briefcase and miniature Hertz credit card, so my O.J. can make television commercials. What's life in the real sports world without Lilliputian residuals? He also needs an ABC blazer for announcing duties. And he needs an 8½-inch agent to take a tiny 10% of his salary for the Doll House Inferno, the movie we're going to make.
Perhaps you think I've gone too far. No way. I'm just living out the fantasies we all share about superheroes and superstars. For a kid, the fact that O.J. Simpson is one of the greatest running backs in football history is enough, and when a boy makes the doll gracefully slip through imaginary tackles, the doll has fulfilled its function for him.
But we adults are not so easily gratified. We are faced with the bewildering complexity of life, its ineluctable problems, just like O. J. Simpson. And so, without any embarrassment, I persist in my fantasizing. Why just last night, for instance, I took my O.J. doll down to the local tavern. The bartender thought he was being real funny when he said, "And what'll your friend have, an eyedrop-per of beer?" I told him what I thought of his perverted sense of humor. I ordered him a Scotch on the rocks, just like the rest of us. My O.J. doll is a class guy.