Tutti’s Panties

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“Dear Diary,  Today, I lost Tutti’s panties.”

Possibly, for you, losing a doll’s underwear may not be a traumatic event, but to this seven-year-old, it proved journal worthy.

Now, a second-grade diary is filled with the ups and downs of daily life. The birth of kittens. A fish fry with friends. A spelling bee at school. The backfired plot to frighten Martha (I was to hide inside Martha’s locker while Scarlet coaxed her to take something out of it. Scarlet got side-tracked with a jump rope, and I spent that entire recess developing claustrophobia to tight spaces.)

Yes, my diary knew my naked soul. But the Tutti-catastrophe had to be one of my darkest days as a seven-year-old.

I received Tutti (whose name rhymes with Fruity) from my sister for Christmas. When I opened the box, I knew her bright blue eyes would be a hit at show-and-tell. Standing six and a quarter inches tall, Tutti had auburn hair that almost reached her behind. Her short, baby-doll dress was pinstriped with red and white, with three navy buttons aligning the placket.

But the great thing about Tutti was her navy-blue bloomers. I’d had a blonde Barbie, a freckled Midge, and a very mod Twiggy, none of which wore undergarments. I suppose it would have been too hard to slip underneath their fashionable, fishnet hose.

Yet, Tutti was complete with underwear. It was a good thing too, as her body was utterly bendable, from head to toe. Even a six-inch doll has to have some privacy.

When the day arrived for show-and-tell, everyone in Mrs. Crouch’s class was armed and ready with new Christmas gifts. Susie had a new Barbie doll and Christi shared recent comic books. Darla taught us how to hula hoop and Ann, how to play “Operation.” We listened to Rhetta’s Mary Poppins album and played Sydney’s new Mystery Date Game. And of course, everyone enjoyed the Farris twins’ ever-expanding troll collection.

But no one had ever played with a Tutti doll before. She was a hit. Especially since I’d also received an alternate outfit. She was dressed and undressed. Posed. Folded. Contorted. Tutti could bend in places a twelve-inch doll could not, you know. She did splits, lunges, backbends, and free-falling cartwheels.

What a day the two of us had. On the way home, I took Tutti out of my book satchel to get some air. As she did one of her famous waist bends, I realized that Tutti’s patootie was bare. By the time the school bus stopped at my mailbox, I was sobbing. Tutti’s bloomers were gone. Although I did find them later that particular week, Tutti’s panties remained a source of grief for my entire second-grade year. After a series of losses and recoveries, Tutti’s panties finally vanished forever. It is a sorrow emblazoned upon my memory to this day.

I still have Tutti. She is resting quietly in a shoebox in the closet. But if you visit, please don’t peek under her dress. I would hate for you to see me cry.

2nd grade class pic