Babs Redeux

We were walking through Toys R Us when I inexplicably gravitated to the Barbie aisle. Like a moth to a flame, the plethora of pink shades induced a trance-like state and pulled me straight into Barbie’s lair. With eyes glazed over and a thin string of drool beginning to slide down my chin (Okay, not really. I made that part up for the visual effect), I slowly meandered the corridor, perusing her wares. It was the price tag on Barbie’s Corvette that yanked me from my stupor. After I had shaken my head to clear the hot pink fog from my brain, I snorted at the ridiculous outfits that Barbie is wearing these days and thought, clearly, she hasn’t hired Rachel Zoe to tweak her style. I balked that in this economy, she flaunts her wealth with that hot pink custom Glamour Jet and her Glamour Vacation House. I mean, really…we find it hard enough to pay the mortgage every month, but Babs is sitting pretty with her Townhouse, Dream House, Corvette, private jet, Vespa and 10 different advanced degrees! Pet Vet my ass, I thought as I turned on my heel and began my haughty retreat. Just as I began muttering like a crazy woman, “I’m glad my daughter isn’t into you,” I was slapped across the face with a treasure from my youth.

The heavens opened up and poured a golden light on the box containing a re-released version of the 1970’s Country Camper. It sat on the shelf before me in its groovy orange and yellow glory. It enticed me with the promise of re-released 8-year-old bliss. In the battle between me and Barbie, she had pulled out her big cannons and began sucking me back in. With a squeak of delight, I skipped over to the box. My eyes were wide with joy as I knelt down and pulled the box forward on the shelf for a better look. I had to be sure that this was the same camper. I had to know that this was the vehicle that Barbie and I spent hours driving in the yard. It couldn’t be the same camper we’d parked next to the stream outside the barn…could it?

With my nose now almost touching the box, I carefully inspected the photos. From long-buried recesses deep within my mind, memories began pushing their way forward through the crowded thoughts that come with age. In a flashback, I saw Barbie sitting on her yellow plastic camp chair next to Skipper. They were warming their hands over the plastic campfire. I quickly turned the box, searching for the contents and found precisely what I was looking for. This was my camper and it came with all of the proper accoutrement for a Barbie-perfect outing! For example, those yellow plastic camp chairs and matching plastic sleeping bags. A loud, delighted gasp startled me. I looked around me and realized that I was the one who was panting.

Frantically, I jumped to my feet and searched both ends of the aisle for Dave. I simply had to show him this camper of bliss. “DAVE!” I yelled. No answer. I ran to the end of the aisle and looked both ways. No Dave. Annoyed that I had to leave my treasure to find my husband, I quickly walked through the store while frantically scanning rows of toys. I finally found him in the aisle housing some stupid Star Wars junk from like, 30 years ago. “Honey, you’ve GOT to come with me and see what I found!” I pleaded. He dutifully followed me back to Barbie Land and politely glanced at the 1970’s Country Camper before saying, “Okay, who wants lunch?” Off he went without even a glimmer of excitement. With a deflated sigh and one last lingering glance over my shoulder, I followed. I was over it and moving on when I saw her. Bathed in that same golden light from the heavens above was a pink box holding a special edition of the of the 1978 Glamour Barbie. Glamour Barbie!

I wanted to hate her but instead stood firmly planted to the floor of Toys R Us, staring at her gorgeous tacky hot pink and black stole and her sparkling too-tight hot pink gown. She had Farrah Fawcett hair and pink stilletos. She also had a body that is not humanly possible to attain but I didn’t care because she was my Barbie. She was that very same glamorous Glamour Barbie who camped in the Country Camper and lived in the Barbie Townhouse and drove her gaudy Corvette around my bedroom.

As Christmas draws near, Gwen has begun requesting Barbie and her “stuff”. My initial (silent) reaction was a resounding ‘NO’. Until the morning when I recalled stumbling upon the Country Camper and my old pal, Glamour Barbie. I didn’t love my Barbie’s because of how they looked. I don’t think I ever expected to grow up and look like her either. What I did want was her slutty wardrobe and her ridiculous houses. That Barbie Townhouse with the elevator was perfectly decorated and the view from the top floor was stupendous! Don’t you remember? How I loved placing Barbie and her friends into the elevator. I clearly recall it crashing to the first floor, reigning death and destruction upon the girls.

Often, my brother built model cars. He also had fireworks. We spent a few summer afternoons setting Barbie up in those replica American muscle cars. They must have been much more difficult to drive than the pink Corvette because somehow she always ended up tragically driving off a cliff before blowing up (courtesy of an m-80). We’d pretend she swerved to avoid a deer on the Pacific Coast Highway. Poor, poor Barbie.

Remembering those special moments with Barbie, (along with some more socially acceptable moments of imaginative play) I came to conclusion that I shouldn’t deprive my girl access to the world of Barbie. She should be able to decide if she likes her or not. She needs to cut Barbie’s hair with safety scissors and apply Barbie’s makeup with magic markers. She should be given the opportunity to smoosh Barbie’s face into grotesque positions and turn her into a disfigured, freaky monster. She has every right to inspect Barbie naked and change her endless supply of outfits.Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that Santa Claus will be leaving the Glamour Vacation House, a Fiat and two Barbie’s under the Christmas tree. Welcome to Barbie Land, Gwen…after all, it is what you make it.

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  1. i loved my barbies. i remember picking them out at the store. i would search them all, looking for the perfect one. yes, we drew extra makeup on ours, even marathon ken got his hair cut. we had a cher doll, who often tried to kidnap skipper, and Bo, the most eligible bachelor in barbie land. we didn't have a townhouse, so we built barbie room after room using anything we could find around the house…tissue boxes made excellent beds, an old rabbit fur became a fur rug in front of barbie's cardboard fireplace… and i could never, NEVER, get enough cool outfits for barbie. i've been making some Barbie clothes for my nieces for Christmas. i had to buy myself a barbie as a model and a muse and i have been having so much fun making outfits and dressing her up! i only hope my nieces will enjoy playing with them as much as i have enjoyed making them!

  2. I loved my barbies to! They just are not the same anymore though… Nice read BTW! Love it! LOL!

  3. I loved my barbies when I was young… I remember how much I cried when my my brother's GI Joe mutilated her.

  4. Wow….I've been there. I remember when I first got preggers, one of my first thoughts for reals was that if I had a little girl, I could play with Barbies again!

    I got so much grief as a teenager because I STILL loved them and back in the day, that wasn't cool. Not like today. My daughter's friends talk proudly about their Barbies, carry Disney Princess bookbags to school, carry Hello Kitty lunchboxes and they're juniors and seniors in high school!

    She started collecting them as she got older and I think she'll always love them. I don't think how she looks really has anything to do with her appeal. My daughter looked up at me one day and said "Barbie should have smaller boobs so her clothes will fit better." 🙂

    It's a phenomena for sure, but it's different for every child (and adult alike!) She hasn't gotten anything Barbie for years, but she'll still haunt the glowing pink aisles of any store she finds just looking around in that little girl haze.

    This year will be the first year she's getting a Barbie and (ahem) it's a zombie Barbie. Yep. A Walmart $5 swimsuit barbie that got chopped up, cut up, burned, melted, painted and then a haircut and dress and took a trip out into the yard to be rolled around in the dirt for a bit. I'm sure she'll look lovely perched beside the Bob Mackie on her dresser! 🙂

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, I hope you'll enjoy it, I know I'm looking forward to reading more here! You've got a beautiful way of writing such lovely stories!

    <3 Donna

  5. discodiva79 says:

    WoW! what memories! Absolutely loved your story! Just like a guy not to get excited about something you like.
    I love Barbie and still have mine from the 60’s-70’s. I was hoping my daughter would love her too but not so much. She did like the “Spice Girls”!!! Recently I found an A frame dream house and had to have it! I also found the camper like the one above and of course had to get it. Now, I am hoping my granddaughter will get into Barbie. , so she can spend those hours of imaginative play.
    Thanks for sharing!

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