Saturday, March 21, 2009

Girls and Dolls

Ms. Barbie turned 50 some weeks ago and everyone was talking about it. On the TV, over the radio and all over the Internet. Everyone had a favourite story about their experience with the world's most famous doll, and as I listened to the sharing I suddenly remembered about my own Barbie experience from a long long time ago.
It was nearing the end of the the summer vacations of 1988 and us kids were tiring of the long hot days. Even the most innovative of games had grown stale and the unrelenting heat stifled any new creativity. To escape from the daily monotony, one of the neighbourhood girls managed to con/bribe/nag her mother into throwing a "Barbie Party" for all the neighbourhood girls. Of course this peeved the boys to no extent as none of them were "invited" and it led to them plotting revenge - but that's a whole other story.

For a whole week, the upcoming Barbie party was all anyone was talking about. The girl (who I shall call Diva) had her mum make up little party invites that said something along the lines of"You and Your Barbie are cordially invited to a party at..................." The invite also revealed that one lucky girl would have her Barbie crowned "Princess of the Party". Sure, we'd all had parties. Lots of parties. But never one with our dolls. FOR our dolls!

When I got my invitation, I was over the moon with delight. And in 3 seconds flat, that delight turned to despair. I so badly wanted to go to this party, but the only Barbie I had owned was in no fit condition for such an event. Some years ago, in a misguided attempt to make more "feminine" an aunt had gifted me a Barbie for my birthday (or was it Christmas?). I had promptly stripped her off her boring blue business suit and put her into an outfit better suited for some action packed adventures with GI Joe, He-Man and Strawberry Shortcake - who in case you're wondering was just as much of an action hero in my world. Barbie balanced out the team nicely and over the years had participated in some crazy adventures with the gang that had earned her the respect she rightly deserved amongst my playmates, but had sadly left her with broken limbs and deep battle scars that no amount of cosmetic surgery would cover. And there was the bitter realization that like the millions of women invited out to special events - she hadn't a thing to wear!

I knew there was no way I could take my Barbie to that party wearing her current ensemble of tattered T (borrowed from a teddy bear, fitted with safety pins) and home made skirt from my dad's torn handkerchief. So the next time I met Diva, I told her that I wasn't going to attend her party. Diva probed some more and when she found out that lack of suitable ensemble was my excuse, she exclaimed that she had loads and loads of extra "party" clothes for her Barbies (all 17 of them) and would be happy to lend me something for mine.

And so, I went to the party after all. I didn't want to take Barbs over in her "fighter" outfit, so I hastily wrapped her in one of my mum's silk scarfs and went over to Diva's. "Ok, I said, can I have something for my Barbie to wear?" Diva took one look at my Barbie and at me and then proceeded to teach me an early lesson in duplicity.

"Oh, how SWEET!" she exclaimed. "Look everyone, Pixy's Barbie is wearing a homemade outfit." And then to me, "Well, it would be a shame to ruin that special outfit you made her. Just let her wear it to the party."

Of course, I couldn't very well demand that she make good on her offer of a dress and didn't have a choice but to put down my "Home Econo Fashion Barbie" along side all of the other carefully coiffed and dressed dolls. The party was absolutely ruined for me and I remember not being able to eat a single thing that evening even though Diva's mum had prepared a veritable feast. About half way though the evening, I made some excuse about a tummy ache and went off home taking poor old war weary Barbs with me. Hardly anyone even noticed my departure, and as I walked home I could hear the shrieks of delighted laughter behind me.

I never fully understood why Diva had gone back on her promise. Perhaps her aim had been to embarrass me all along, or perhaps she just changed her mind at the last minute - like a lot of 8 year olds tend to do. In either case, she taught me an early lesson about the Divas of the world and that perhaps it was better to use my imagination and play with a bunch of ragged, but loyal buds than try to befriend the cool kids who's idea of friendship was false smiles and broken promises.


Anonymous said...

Funny, touching, moving or silly...keep doing what you do.

Penguin Pal

The Bride said...

Aw! 8-year-old girls can be so cruel. This party sounds familiar... was I there?

laurie said...

what is it that barbies DO to friends???? your friend diva sounds like my friend janet.

though i do think a barbie wrapped in a sari sounds gorgeous.

(when i was in third grade i dressed my barbie up like a mummy for my social studies class, winding her miles and miles of gauze. she stayed like that for longer than i care to admit.)

Potato Chops and Boneless Chicken said...

OMG I wasn't even invited to the party. And this is how I find out over 20 years later??? SOB :-(

The Pixy Princess said...

Welcome Laurie! I actually remembered about Diva and the party while reading your post about the Barbie shoes! I did much better with He-Man and my teddy bears I tell ya!

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