I was almost 100 percent certain my second child was going to be another boy. I did have a girl name ready just in case – the same one I was going to use on the first child who I just knew would be a girl but showed up with boy parts. But during the pregnancy that we had determined would most likely provide the last addition to the family no matter what, I mostly focused on other boy names and told myself things like “Gosh we will save so much money on clothes and toys” and “It will be so great for them. They will have the same interests and be able to play together and be great friends” and “I’ve always been more of a guy’s girl anyway, so it just makes sense for me to have a house full of boys.”
Though my head was screaming all of these platitudes, my heart was whispering, “Oh, I hope it’s a girl.” To which I would say, “Shut up, heart! Don’t even say those words!”
And this should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, of course, either would have been loved the same, but when the ultrasound tech told me she had spotted a “hamburger bun” and we would be having a girl, tears of elation streamed down my face, (though I must admit I have never been able to look at hamburger buns the same way).
Flashes of pink mixed in with images of dresses and bows. Ballet shoes, braids and Barbies whirled around in my head. I was getting my girl.
Of course, if she had turned out to be a tomboy that would have been fine too. Not to say she isn’t tough and doesn’t keep her brother and two older boy cousins on their toes, but she is the girliest of girls, constantly carrying a purse and putting on high heels and changing into different princess or dance costumes.
So when asking her what she wanted from Santa this year, I was not surprised to hear: Barbie and Ken and a Barbie car and Barbie’s house.
When she said those last two words “Barbie’s house” it was like a choir of majestic Mattel angels from Malibu started singing “Alleluia” in my ear.
Hands down, the best thing Santa ever left me under the Christmas tree was my Barbie Dreamhouse. It was my absolute favorite toy growing up. I would sit in front of it for hours acting out different storylines with the various Barbies and Kens.
And let’s just say there was a lot more drama than dreams in my Babs’ house.
I blame it on Grams.
My sweet little grandmother kept me every day from the time my mom went back to work when I was a wee baby until I went to kindergarten and then during the summers and after school. And Grams and I never missed an episode of the entire line-up of CBS soap operas. Was it age appropriate? Absolutely not, but it was a different time. Peppermint schnapps for a six-year-old’s cough would also probably be frowned upon now.
Grams, who never lived in a town with a population over 8,000, loved to escape to these glamorous worlds– to Genoa City, the home of Jabot cosmetic magnate John Abbot on the “Young & the Restless,” and to Oakdale, where handsome doctors and dashing lawyers milled about on “As The World Turns” and to the “Guiding Light’s” Springfield where the sophisticated Spauldings would constantly bicker and with new money oil tycoons, the Lewises.
Now that I think of it, it’s probably a bit of a stretch to think all of these multi-billion dollar empires were headquartered in the suburbs of Wisconsin and Illinois, where each of these soap cities were located but I never questioned it.
At least the “Bold and the Beautiful” centered around fashion designers living in L.A., who would escape to their cabin in Big Bear when times got too tough (like when someone “accidentally” had sex with their husband’s father, which happened more than once. Oops!) Half of the second generation of Forrester babies must have been conceived in that cabin.
The other half were conceived in Grams’ living room on the top floor of my Dreamhouse (bow chicka bow wow), as I acted out similar plots from all of these soaps with Barbie, Ken and whoever else showed up. There were kidnappings, fiery crashes in the Barbie convertible and poor Skipper’s paternity was always in question.
And though perhaps at that age, I shouldn’t have been worried about if “Day to Night” Ken was going to find out “Crystal Ken” was actually the father of Barbie’s new baby, in my defense (and Grams’), all of this play at least involved using your imagination.
So in this world of endless devices and apps and robotic talking toys who think for you, I was thrilled my girl wanted her own Dreamhouse, where she could get magically lost in her mind for years to come. Hopefully, it will involve less DNA testing though.
So I put on my Santa hat and went out to pick up said house, and let’s just say much like actual real estate costs, the market value has significantly increased for the Dreamhouse as well. $170!!! Are you kidding me? Though it does come well appointed (and with less fake mirrors than the ones in the ‘80s – go figure), it is still made of plastic and cardboard.
But I guess you can’t put a price tag on the place where B and K are going to build their life together. I went through inspection and closing and came home with the monstrosity. I’m not sure how many square feet it is, but it’s over 4 feet tall and has a swimming pool, which is a new amenity. So at least there’s that.
Then it was on to add some new Barbies and Kens. We already had quite a few but they were given to her when she was younger (too young), and they were all immediately stripped of their clothes and some were decapitated.
I picked up a couple of Barbies. One was dressed like Cinderella and the other was a ballerina. They were nothing compared to my “Peaches and Cream” or “Crystal” but acceptable.
But then we got to the new Kens. Oh my god, Mattel. What have you done to Ken?
My Kens wore tuxes. Day to Night’s was black and Crystal’s was white. They looked like they could be cosmetic magnates or doctors attending the General Hospital Christmas gala.
All of the new Kens are hipsters with way too much hair product and all of his ties, pants and jeans are skinny. He can’t go to the cabin in Big Bear or to the launch of the new Jabot Cosemtics fragrance line with that sh*t on!
About the best storyline I can imagine for him involves him listening to a Fleet Foxes CD at a coffeehouse in Williamsburg or Greenpoint. There will be no questions of paternity because having relations with a girl that looks like Barbie would be unthinkable. I guess maybe we can slap some oversized glasses on her and see what happens.
I’m hoping I can find some vintage Kens online or else I fear eventually I am going to hear my daughter’s Ken voice saying to Barbie, “Oh, please, B, that album is so pedestrian” instead of “I’m sorry but I’m in love with Skipper.”
Sigh. What a nightmare in the Dreamhouse.
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