MORE LIKE A DEVIL DOLL (Part 1)
By Andrew Biggs
Back in 2016, Thailand embarked on a brief love affair with Angel Dolls.
The whole country went crazy over these dolls that had alleged mystical powers to bring good luck. Airlines were charging for their seats; grown men and women chatted to them, took them to beauty parlors and even, stuffed them full of amphetamines and smuggled them down to the capital. It had gotten so wacky, international news agencies were following the story keenly.
What could one do? Well there were two choices:
1. Moan, groan, chastise, berate, belittle and scream at the idiocy of the world; or
2. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
So I chose number two. I decided to get myself my very own Angel Doll.
1. GOODBYE SCREWDRIVER, HELLO ANGEL
My staff were helpful in finding an Angel Doll. It comes from the countless hours they spend deep in Facebook and Instagram at the expense of the work I pay them to do.
Sampeng was the centre for purchasing these dolls, they told me. That’s how I ended up at Mega Wang Burapha department store.
I arrived on the day there had been news that drug dealers, too, had gotten in on the act. Dolls stuffed with methamphetamines were found in Chiang Mai and thus, Angel Dolls were no longer out on the streets. Buying one was akin to buying illicit drugs.
There was a conspiratorial conversation with one street vendor who admitted she had two Angel Dolls if we “wait a minute”. I wondered if I should have asked for cocaine or methamphetamines as well. I was reminded of the old days of purchasing pornographic videos on Patpong (birthday gifts, of course) and having to wait as the staff rushed deep into the soi to obtain Debbie Does Dallas Director’s Cut.
The first doll, a boy, was just plain ugly. The second one, a girl, was ugly too, but apparently this was the “look” of the Angel Dolls. The vendor and my staff cooed and fawned over her; I could only see her as Chucky in a dress which you’re about to find out was not far from the truth.
This doll cost me 2,000 Baht plus 200 Baht for the Thai dress. The equivalent of three Absolut vodka bottles for a doll.
“She will bring you good fortune,” said the vendor. “But first, you need to place a spirit in her.”
“I need a spirit in me too,” I answered. “But I just sacrificed three bottles of them.”
2. BUDDHIST VOODOO 101
Angel Dolls needed to be “blessed” by monks. Yes, monks of the Buddhist faith, the very religion that spells out clearly not to believe in hocus pocus and notions like putting spirits in plastic dolls. On the way back from Sampeng I took my doll to a temple and was surprised to be chastised by the abbot, who told me he would do no such ritual.
His view was shared by the famous monk Phra Payom, who this week likened Angel Dolls to Krispy Kreme donuts or Roti Boy coffee buns. He predicted most dolls would end up in the trash within three months. Talk about a killjoy!
Luckily there was a monk over in Nonthaburi who is of another opinion, and appeared to be blessing hundreds of these dolls as we spoke for a generous donation of course.
Nonthaburi was a little too far for me to travel, and the traffic was bad, so I decided to bless my doll myself.
“Abracadabra,” I whispered, humming a few bars of the old Steve Miller song, and making a mystical face.
That should do the trick. Luck be a lady tonight.
3. VALLEY OF THE DOLLS
Sampeng was a hive of activity for Thais and their dolls. You could see them everywhere, and not five minutes after securing mine, I ran into a trendy young man by the Chester Grill ketchup bar holding Nong Nicha, as he has named his Angel Doll. This young man paid 15,000 Baht for Nicha. I have to admit I felt a little jealous, not to mention inadequate with my pathetic two-thousand-baht baby I was clutching.
“And what is your baby’s name?” he asked.
Good lord. I never thought of a name. I blurted out the first one that comes to mind.
“Andrea,” I said.
4. A DAY IN THE LIFE AND ANDREW AND ANDREA
First, I took Nong Andrea for a walk through a shopping center. Andrea helped pay for gas at my local gas station. We did had a mishap at the lifts, where I got Andrea to press the button, only to accidentally tear off her arm from the shoulder.
Things got worse. At afternoon tea, I purchased a tea and tart for Andrea, since you have to treat these dolls like real children. Andrea didn’t move, so I ended up having to shove the tart into her face.
Children can be so contrary at times.
5. THE LAST STRAW
That damned doll has brought me nothing but trouble.
On the very day I acquired Andrea, I was maneuvering a U-turn on Phetchaburi Road when I accidentally brushed past a yellow barricade. I have NEVER hit a barricade before in my life, and I was completely sober — though I may have been obsessing about those three lost Absolut bottles I forfeited for Little Miss Chucky over in the passenger seat.
I totally blamed Andrea for the accident. In fact, since acquiring her, my productivity had gone straight down. I had no concentration. I was 2,200 baht out of pocket. I felt depressed.
At least my staff were no longer spending all day on Facebook and Instagram — they had more important things to do, like braiding Andrea’s hair and adding hair clips and brooches.
At the end of the day I was reminded of Phra Payom’s prophecy. Only he was a little out on the timeline. It didn’t take Andrea three months to end up in the trash. More like three hours.
And that is where we leave Andrea. In the trash. Only there is more.