I was reminded this morning of my first Barbie doll. I think I was in third or fourth grade and I loved her.
Yes, I thought she was pretty and there isn't a thing wrong with that. Never once in all my childhood did I want to look like Barbie when I grew up. But I did want to be like my Barbie. (Before all the Barbie haters start in on how awful Barbie is, please read the rest of this post. ;o) Thank you.)
I was in fourth or fifth grade when I got the Barbie Cruise Ship and the Barbie Airplane for Christmas. My cousin Debbie got the Barbie Townhouse, oh my gracious it was awesome!!! IT EVEN HAD AN ELEVATOR! How cool is that? I was so envious. But she let me play with it so that was cool!
Anyway, I digress...back to my cruise ship and airplane. These were vinyl covered cardboard things, not all hard pink plastic like you see today. You could tuck all your dresses, shoes, jewelry and things inside it and carry it with you wherever you went. I loved them and thought they were pretty nifty.
When other girls played with their Barbies, they were pretty generic about it. My Barbie did different things and they made me feel like the odd ball. While my cousins' Barbies were teachers, nurses, and moms, well, my Barbie was different.
My Barbie wasn't a mom, or a teacher or a nurse or even a stewardess. (They were called stewardesses back in my day, so don't hate me for using that term). My Barbie was the pilot. She flew all over the world in her airplane. Bangkok, Tokyo, Saudi Arabia, England (she spent lots of time in England), New York City, Taiwan, Russia, pretty much every place that I was learning about in social studies, my Barbie would fly to.
But when she landed, she'd zip over to her hotel to change. She'd don her red evening gown, or the gold one depending on her mood. Now here is where my mom should have known I was either going to end up in the nut house or end up a writer: Barbie would strap a .357 Magnum to each of her thighs. In her bejeweled evening bag was another gun. Under her evening gloves, she had hidden sharp knives. (NO, she was NOT a serial killer!) My Barbie was the female version of 007. ;o)
Barbie was flying around the world pretending to be a pilot. But that was her cover. She was actually a secret spy for the CIA, hence the guns hidden under her beautiful ball gowns. (They were imaginary of course because you couldn't get plastic guns tiny enough to strap to a Barbie doll! I bet you still can't)
She would make her way into these castles and villas. Then she'd sneak around in the dark and find her way into to the secret, but not too well hidden libraries of the bad guys, break into their safes, steal the secret codes or files, and sneak back out again. Occasionally, she made it out without anyone knowing what was hidden under her dress. But other times, she barely got out alive. A few times, she'd have to steal the bad guy's helicopter or his speed boat, shooting all the bad guys down on her way to safety. Sometimes she would have to rescue a fellow CIA agent who was being held prisoner. The aforementioned CIA operative was always male because I still thought boys were stupid and couldn't find their way out of a wet paper bag. My Barbie rocked. My Barbie saved the world. My Barbie kicked bootie.
There were very few romances with Ken. (I was a late bloomer.) My Barbie was too busy taking of business and saving the world to worry about romance, husbands, and children.
So there you have it. That's how I played with my Barbie. Sometimes she was an opera singer. Sometimes she was a cowgirl. Sometimes she was a cop. Sometimes a doctor or a scientist. Whatever role I put her in, her essence was the same: Never plain, never stupid, and never needed a man to rescue her.
Somewhere along life's road, I lost the little girl that I used to be. The one that was so sure of herself, knew exactly what she wanted out of life, and never needed rescuing. She lay dormant for decades, quietly tucked inside a vinyl covered cardboard airplane, waiting for someone to pull out the ball gowns and guns.
I don't know whatever happened to my Barbie, Skipper and PJ dolls. And I don't know where all her handmade clothes and her boat and airplane ended up. But I have found her. Or the essence of her.
That little girl I used to be. The one who was so confident, self-assured, and kicking bootie. Instead of guns strapped to thighs however, my weapon of choice is my MacBook Pro. But the idea is still the same. I can create wonderful stories of romance, mystery and intrigue. Oh, I throw in a lot of romance now, mainly because I have blossomed! And my stories currently take place in 14th Century Scotland. The premise is the same; we get to steal away for a few hours, locking out the real world that is sometimes just too hectic, harrowing, ugly, stressful, or even boring. We get to pull our Barbies out and play for a while and forget about the rest of the world.
And I still get to rescue people and my heroine's are often rescued, and there isn't anything wrong with that. I think all of us at one point or another need rescued. Either from a ne'er do well or ourselves.
I guess I'm still playing with Barbies, but mind you, in a round about, grown up way. Every day I get to sit in my office and let my imagination take me away to enchanting, far away places, filled with castles, heroes and heroines and bad guys. And good always triumphs over evil. And love is never denied. There are broadswords, sgian dubh's, and bows and arrows instead of guns and blades. I still have beautiful gowns but of a different time and era. People travel by horse instead of plane. There are still spies, still bad guys to deal with. The adventure continues....
The crazy thing is, I get to write all these stories down. The coolest part is that I get to share what goes on in this crazy mind of mine with the rest of the world.
I'd say I have a blessed life. I have a wonderful, kind, funny, sexy husband who is, and always will be my hero. I've got great kids and perfect grandchildren. A crazy family that loves me and is proud of me. A safe, warm, loving home in which all who enter are loved and adored. I get to help those who are less fortunate than I am. I get to be there for my family and help out when and wherever I can.
I guess you could say that I owe my childhood Barbie a big thank you. If it weren't for her and her airplane that helped open up this wild imagination of mine, I don't know where I'd be. So for all you Barbie haters out there...not all little girls want to look like a Barbie. But there isn't a damned thing wrong with wanting to be like your Barbie. That is, if she is as cool and kick butt as mine was. ;o)