Barbie & Her Perilous Anatomy
By Bart Plantenga
I already knew back then that to relate to the world meant somehow being able to
relate to Barbie. Barbie as plural & plenteous, aerodynamic & market omnivorous,
perfect & ever young, tear-free & stringless. Moans of prurience tucked ever
so snug into her subtle, yet universally recognizable, curvaciousness. Barbie as
that pliant statuette sculpted from the demographic spec sheets at Mattel who dove
so deeply into our collective memory like a handsome forefinger into the heart of
our wallets. Barbie as sleek, smug & Ultra-EZ-Wipe-Clean amulet afflicted with
II. Brutal Yet Necessary
When I tuned in my red radio out of the white crepuscular hiss, that mist of noise,
arose the voice of one Bikini Girl discussing the phenomenon of Barbie. She minced
no phrase in describing her early conversion of Barbie into a "makeshift sexual
device." & how Barbie was her first & how she imagined Barbie felt &
how her "teen juices d'amour" matted Barbie's golden locks back & how
these clandestine secretions gave Barbie's hair a strange sheen. & how this made
Barbie look punk or flapper or attitude-enhanced & how this made Bikini Girl
the envy of her classmates who dreamed of mauve boudoirs & dates with Kiss, &
thought the mysterious sheen was Dippity Doo.
& then Bikini Girl inspired insomniac stay-at-homes to call in their Barbie tales,
& youthful dabblings in Barbie Voodoo & copycat fashion. I called in too,
muffling my voice in the warm blankets wrapped around me so that I could sound calm
& self-assured. I owned up, neither contrite nor proud, to my own boyhood encounters
with Barbie. I recalled how our pockets bulged with Silly Putty & pilfered things
at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison. How Bamberger's doll aisle was set up-like a New
York alley of skyscrapers.
How I picked Barbie up out of her cardboard coffin. How, with one rapacious thumb,
I'd slid Barbie's chiffon Frozen Hawaii gown down to her knees, exposing her innocuous
perfections. & then there were others. Others whom I liberated from their bathing
suits, sun dresses & candystriped microskirts. & later doused in Barbie's
very own Privilege Perfume. & I continued because there were so many Barbies!
I pinned dress after dress down under their plastic protrusions (true to scale but
untrue to our yearnings for anatomical precision).
& so we rolled down the aisles like hoodlum huns, like preparatory panty-raiders,
splitting our spleens with swashbuckling glee. Jamey going gaa-gaa like a hyena addicted
to his own cackle. & Alfred got so aroused that he five-fingered $295 worth of
& then on to Skipper, Midge, even Honey West. & the Kens, who got off no
better-not at all!-stiff slacks yanked down to their ankles to look more flasher
than anything you'd ever see on tv. & I brandished a magic marker & took
to Barbies' nondescript bosoms to draw in necessary aureoli & nipples as if surgically
& symbolically dotting "i"s in a long life sentence about misshapen
III. Heat, Flame Or Fire
That night I sat in my windowsill, fumbling with the tag I'd ripped from Barbie's
gown, bedroom legs dangling into the dark midnight. I read it over & over; do
not hold near heat, open flame or fire, overlooking the lignite brook threading through
dark yard. I felt the breeze stir my balls & the hypothetical hair on my legs
& I thought sex & leaping into the big dark, with nude photos of Candy &
Barbie tucked into my underwear, were one & the same. I imagined the lawn dew
as something good & necessary as it evaporated from my incandescent face in a
IV. Barbie's Bloho Adventure
We met by the torched vehicle on Stanton Street. The breadth of her every skittish
step was circumscribed by her skirt style & anxiety. It had been many unforgiven
years & just as many unforgivable fashion statements.
This was Barbie's first trip to NYC. Well, not her first-she'd often been chauffeured
to the Mattel HQ on Sixth Avenue & had often dined at the Waldorf & clubbed
at Stringfellows. But this was certainly her first excursion below Houston Street.
She did not understand why we'd met here. Why I gave her a bracelet of used crack
vials & a necklace made of car window crystals. She did not understand my world
of gallantry. Her world was still filled with award ceremonies, chivalry & runway
knights in perma-crease slacks. She did not understand why I thought it important
that I'd broken the side window myself & had taken nothing from the vehicle.
She did not understand that the gesture was the gift. & this was disappointing.
She did not understand why boys & girls along the parade route of her life would
stick pins into her. & why others had painted crucifixes where her genitalia
ought to have been. & why still other others threw pocketfuls of baby teeth at
her feet of indistinguishable digits. She did not understand that the world had become
a place where there was ever less to win & ever more to lose.
V. The Beer & Barbie Devotions
I washed three weeks of dirty dishes piled in my tub for her, as Barbie (cat. # T34959687)
recalled her early days of life in Taiwan, her fist around a colorfully unreal drink
I'd prepared in her honor.
She made light of the massive configuration of Combat Roach Killer Discs glued to
my morbid kitchen wall. "Three years worth," I tried to brag. A legacy
of battles won & lost right there.
"But why cover a whole wall with them?"
"My way of keeping track of time."
"You know, this much Combat," she said, "can make you impotent."
& then I coaxed her into my tub of cheap, warm beer-"It's therapeutic,"
I said & made motorboat sputters to mock her eternal affections for the trappings
"Yeah, right," she retorted, much less naive than adventurous. We floated
there for a long time, unburdened of all weight & doubt. & I got drunk on
her head by dipping her big coif of adjustable length hair into the cheap, warm beer
& then sucking every inebriating molecule out of her big hair. Over & over.
She said it was OK, something she could tolerate. "I've been through worse."
& this routine came to pass so that I could no longer drink beer in any other
manner. This was how I got drunk. OK? & this habit managed to keep me out of
many bars where drinking was still done in more conventional ways.
[ Home ] [ Contents ] [ Contributors ] [ Search ] [ Submit ]
Instant Classics - The Culture Quick
©2007 Instant Classics