True Plastic

Red plastic horse

Connotations of fakery, man made manipulation, melted plesiosaurs and reformed goo. This is what came to my mind when Eddie Yucupicio dashed out of his office with urgency to share my Indian name with me. “I had a dream about you last night,” he said. Oh, geesh, here we go, I thought to myself as I simultaneously relaxed and braced, waiting for it. “You had a shoebox, and in that box was an egg. But it wasn’t an egg. It was a plastic doorknob and you had to take care of it. That’s your Indian name.”

“Plastic Doorknob?” I asked, bewildered, flattered and yes, disappointed. If a young Tohono O’odom Chief was going to give me a name, couldn’t it have been She Who Tames Fear or Lively Javelina? “Why Plastic Door Knob?”

“I don’t know,” Eddie replied, then stated matter-of-factly. “It’s your name.” The implication seemed to be that I should, of course, know.

“You did have a real egg at first, but some people took it away from you. Then they put the doorknob in the shoebox and gave it back to you.”

I had loved plastic things before this revelation. The horses from the sets of cowboys and Indians that my grandmother would buy for my sister and me contained the best horses; black, white and red. Chestnuts. They were my favorite. I’d toss the tomahawk and pistol toting guys to my sister, though I seem to remember her gravitating back to her coloring book. It took some searching, but the photo above is of the exact red plastic horse I loved so much. They were life-like, unencumbered with bridles and saddles and quite spirited. I can’t remember if I named them, but if I did I might have called them Ginger and Snow and Charcoal.

What the plastic represented, I loved. The red pony. Then came the doorknob. I thought about it.I didn’t love it. Was my door knob plastic because I’m a white woman? Was it something phony, transmutation from egg to door knob, from natural being in harmony with nature to object transplanted from European culture? My brain hurt. Somehow, I felt responsible. I forgot about it. I found another iteration of this story in a notebook one year, then forgot about it the next. Rewrote the story. Left it in some dark place, forgotten again.

Plastic came together today. Maybe these thoughts don’t really go together. I still don’t know. What I do know is that doorknobs can open doors and ponies can open hearts. My door knob is plastic and my pony is red. 

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