12 March 2007

The story in your eyes

The daughter has little use for Barbie, the exception being when she was 3, she coveted nothing more on Earth than a Barbie birthday cake, and I mean a Barbie doll with a hunk of cake as an enormous hoop skirt. I rarely indulge my children's manias, but I did indulge that one, in part because a neighbor once made me a very similar cake for my birthday many, many years ago.

I don't remember when the daughter received her first Barbie doll, but it was from me. I know that Barbie has been outed for all sorts of heinous things: eating disorders, body dismorphic disorder, female math hatred, blondeness. However, I loved my Barbies. I never suffered even a momentary schism because 5 of my 6 Barbies were blonde and I wasn't. I never had the faintest qualm because Barbie was skinnier than me, had bigger boobs, longer legs and fairer skin. I excelled in math, all the way through college. In my book, Barbie was the best damned storytelling tool ever invented. She was the model for all my nascent clothing design, and I am a better seamstress because of all teeny tiny stitches in the Barbie clothes I made.

But Barbie suffered in those fabulous confections I concocted out of fabric from the remnants bin, bits of lace and stray lengths of ribbon. Her dream house rocked with earthquakes and hurricanes, the likes of which could never have been imagined by Irwin Allen. Ken married her, and cheated on her with her sister Barbies, married them, cheated on them, and married again (there was no help for it. I only had one Ken. Eventually, his head popped off from too much Barbie-kissing). The Barbie dream vacation van tumbled headlong off mountains, trapping Barbies in a movable feast of soap operas that were continued all throughout the long, hot desert summers. We mourned the Barbie leg that broke off and was buried in the backyard, only to be resurrected by the dog and eaten. We suffered over the disappearance of Malibu Barbie, who vanished in a pile of sand never to be seen again.

I still have all my Barbies (sans headless Ken).

The daughter's Barbies lie discarded, mostly naked and disheveled at the back of her closet, forgotten and unwanted. The daughter prefers Ken. She has several Kens, all named Tim, except for the one named Jake. Ken as Legolas was disdained because he didn't look enough like Orlando Bloom and was really just a Barbie in Ken clothes. And who lives in the daughter's Barbie dream house?

GI Joe.

He lies supine in the footed white tub intended for Barbie and sleeps the sleep of the just in a canopy bed. He consumes his breakfast cereal in a prettily purple decorated kitchen, and rides to the second floor in a cunning turret elevator. Occasionally, he and the son's Joes are called upon to rid the planet of Sasquatch and the Amazon Barbies. The Amazon Barbies ride around in a red Barbie VW with a flower in the vase, calling taunts and flaunting their Amazonian prowess. Sasquatch stands by and looks fierce mainly because he doesn't fit in the VW or the Barbie dune buggy that is the Joes' vehicle of choice.

Irwin Allen could never have imagined such terror and chaos.