Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Barbie Girl

Yesterday, I left home in the wee wee hours (okay, it was 9 am) and headed to Toys R Us. I waited in my car listening to Valerie Bertinelli's Losing It on tape while keeping watch for others like me. Before the store opened at 10, I was joined by two others - middle aged women stalking a toy store as if Bruce Springsteen was working the register.

Which, of course, he wasn't. But when the doors opened shortly after ten (yes, I was pacing), we all walked with purpose (with our joints too, er, squeaky to run) toward the huge pink and white display. There, each of us took our allotment - two per customer, please - and headed to the checkout, where a teenage girl named Devon eyed us with suspicion and rang up our purchases.

I ignored her raised eyebrow and beelined back to my car, giddily studying my receipt and clutching my bag. In the bag, two 50th anniversary Barbie Then and Now dolls, purchased at the 1959 price of just $3 apiece. (See, I really do live On The Cheap.)

Some of you may immediately understand the significance of my purchase. After all, Barbie, boomer that she is, turns fifty this March. And the old girl isn't looking any worse for the wear, believe me. Sure, they say she's had a face lift, but how did she manage to look so great in the bikini? Fifty years ago, she was in a one piece, but now - at the age where most are hiding their droops and covering their cellulite - she's looking better than ever. (Lipo involved, perhaps?)

But this purchase was even more significant. As I unpacked my bag, I said to my husband, "This is my very first Barbie." It was true. Although Barbie and I grew up together, I never had a Barbie doll (or Skipper or Francie or Malibu Ken, for that matter). My mother deemed them "too sophisticated" for me and my sister, so we were relegated to Chatty Cathy and Crissy and Velvet, just dreaming of the Barbie girls in the Barbie World. (I used to lust after a friend's patent leather carrying case.)

Funny how things go full cycle. I don't let my six year old play with Bratz dolls, because we try to choose dolls that are more wholesome (my mom would say, "less sophisticated," but you all know what we mean). Ironically, Libby is allowed Barbies.. in fact, that's why I bought two. One for each of us.

"Do you want to play Barbies with me?" Libby asked, eying the fifty year old icon with the big pink earrings. I shook my head.

My Barbie is going to stay in her box, displayed on a shelf in my room. After all, she's already been a teacher, an astronaut, an Air Force commander, a cowgirl and an Olympic ice skater. And, at 50, she still turns heads.

If Boomers need a role model, maybe we need look no further than this sophisticated miss. Happy birthday, old girl.

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