May 25, 2010

Summer Hours

Never a Barbie will return to once-a-month posting for the summer. Look for a new entry at the beginning of each month.

Have a groovy summer, dudes and dudettes!

May 18, 2010

The Curler Wars

The Curler Wars
by Maizie Lee Linkous

Me, I'm a bona fide veteran of the curler wars. I know it doesn't sound very serious, but when you come from a long line of beauty queens--my grandmama was Miss Cobb County 1930 and 1933, and my mama was runner-up for Miss Georgia in--well, she wouldn't want me to tell you what year it was, but believe me, beauty is Big Business where I come from. And there I was, Miss Maizie Lee Linkous, with stick-straight hair. My sister Daisy had ringlets down to her butt, but me and the curlers, we got to know each other right early.

First it was scratchy metal ones, black and gray, like Brillo in a cage. Mama'd roll my hair up in a whole mess of those of a Saturday night and then jab one of them pointy pick-like things through each one. They were only plastic, but Lord God it felt as if it was like to go right through my scalp. Whenever I'd holler, "Ow!"--and you'd better believe I was never one to hold my tongue if I thought it could get me out of something--Mama'd say, "I'm not hurting you, Maizie Lee. Be still." And then she'd say, "You got your daddy's hard head, girl. Nothing's going to make a dent in that skull."

Then she'd send me off to watch NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, and I'd sit there in my pajamas eating a bowl of ice cream or some popped corn, my head already aching from where Mama'd wound it up so tight. I couldn't hardly enjoy the TV, thinking about what was to come.

I'd kiss Mama good night, and she'd pat me on the bottom and say, "Now, don't let those curlers come out, Maizie Lee." And I'd say, "I won't. I'll sleep real careful," and I'd lay my head down so easy on my pillow, trying to hold perfectly still. But those little Brillo Pads would make my head itch, and then one of them pointy picks would jab me, and so I'd turn my head--just a tad, just trying to get comfortable, you know--but it wouldn't do no good.

Finally I'd fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion, and next morning all the curlers on one side of my head woulda worked themselves loose somehow and just be dangling. Lord, then Mama would fuss. She'd pull them curlers from my hair and they'd hold on like they didn't want to let go, and when she was done, one half of my head would have smooth, blond curls, and the other would be all droopy. Mama would wrap those droopy curls around her hand, trying to get them to curl tighter but no matter how much Aqua Net she sprayed they just wouldn't tighten up.

So then she'd go to work on the other side, trying to loosen those ones. She'd brush and brush and stretch 'em out, then spray hairspray every which way. When she'd let 'em go, boing!, they'd roll right back up.

And there'd be Daisy, smirking at me through a mouth full of Pop Tart, her with her perfect, shiny little curls, watching Davey and Goliath before service, while I had barely enough time to get dressed

May 10, 2010

Played with Condition

I ran across this on eBay the other day: "Vintage 1962 Barbie Dream House: Played with Condition."

Played with condition? What does that even mean, and why does it warrant mention? It's not like, in 1962, someone would have said: "Hey you know what? I bet this fold-up, carry-along dollhouse made of die-cut fiberboard will one day be worth millions. Let's put it aside, count our chickens, and plan the retirement vacations we'll be able to take on the proceeds of its sale in oh, let's say 2000. Never mind that the year 2000 seems as far away as the as-yet-unwalked-upon moon and that Barbie herself is only three years old, I just have a feeling."

No, in 1962, every Barbie Dream House would have been played with. There's no way, I promise you, that there is a single Vintage 1962 Original Barbie Dream House Model No. 816 that is not in played-with condition. Doubly unlikely, were that possible, is the existence of one that is MIB (mint in box), which would have required the foresight of Carnack the Magnificent to divine "collectors' item" in the Barbie Dream House's unassembled state. Not to mention that there was no box, just flat sheets of cardboard held together by plastic bands, cardboard from which the furniture had to be punched out, like paper dolls.

So you can see how flimsy the whole thing must have appeared to the parents charged with assembly, particularly those whose own experiences with dollhouses involved wood or metal--much stronger materials, as any little pig would tell you. Can you imagine the havoc a Big Bad Wolf could wreak on a house made of cardboard? Think trailer park in a tornado. One huff and a couple of puffs could have blown the whole thing completely away and Barbie with it, until she woke up somewhere that wasn't Kansas.

I will say this: putting a vintage 1962 Barbie Dream House on a shelf or in an airtight closet would have preserved the handle of my own 1962 Barbie Dream House, and my whole life might have turned out differently. But that's another story.

May 4, 2010

Dumping Barbie

I threw away my Barbie Dream House, in anger and with great deliberation – or so I have imagined – after the neighbor boy on whom I had a tremendous crush saw me carrying it home from my best friend’s house. A not unusual occurrence, but on that day in the summer before sixth grade, he was in the presence of Mableton Elementary School’s “It” girls, twins who, although my chronological age, were so far past me in maturity that we might have been different species. That day I saw that I would always be on the wrong side of the maturity gap. So I did away with the formerly beloved Barbie Dream House, and as soon as possible, forgot about it.

That’s not true; I have no actual memory of disposing of the Barbie Dream House, but do know that Barbie did not go the way of her house. She perished on a Saturday in the summer of my sixteenth year.