There has been a lot of hype of late, about Barbie turning 50. Barbie and I are awfully close in age. I’m not sayin’ how close, but spittin’ distance.
But gravity has been much kinder to Barbie.
When I was just a little over 2, I sat on Santa’s knee and told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted a “Bawbie Dowl, a Ken Dowl, and a caw, too.”
My mother must have been leaning in to listen, because that’s just what I got.
The “caw” turned out to be a spiffy orange convertible. With seating for two.
Barbie and Ken spent many countless hours in their groovy orange convertible. Parked in front of the tv console, which was perched up on 4 spindly legs. They had ample time to get to know one another, as it took a good 10 minutes for the television to warm up.
Ken was handsome. He had real hair made from something you might find on the Velveteen rabbit.
And then my baby brother came along, and gnawed all of Ken’s hair off. An offense that took me years to forgive him for.
More Barbies, Kens, Midges, Skippers, Alans, and Tuttis followed. But I didn’t find true love until one Christmas, in 1970, when I opened this.
Malibu Ken. What a dream boat. Nearly bald Ken with the gnawed off hair was relegated to Grandpa status in my growing Barbie family.
When the time came to traverse the stepping stones of puberty, I packed my Barbie family away in the attic, which was to be their final resting place. And many many years later, when I had given birth to two Barbie loving daughters, I entered that hot Texas attic in search of Barbie and friends.
Not all made it out in one piece. Well. A few of them were in one piece, melded together like forgotten candles.
Much to my happy surprise, Malibu Ken hadn’t aged a day. He had survived so many near catastrophes in his day. There were fatal car crashes when his orange convertible (void of wheels) careened over the cliff, also known as the stairwell. He survived being spitefully mowed down by a certain unnamed brother’s G.I. Joe jeep. He incurred Barbie’s wrath when he was spotted flirting with Midge. (Notice that Midge is no longer on the scene.) And then 30 summers in an attic. In Texas.
A fiery furnace, not unlike hell.
And now for the last few years, Malibu Ken has been the preferred escort to my girl’s favorite princess Barbies. What with his 6 pack abs, perfectly sculpted hair, and a tan that George Hamilton would envy.
But, after all the near death experiences that Malibu Ken has been subject to, he had yet to meet his match.
Jensen took a shine to the ruggedness of Malibu Ken, and would take him to childcare at the gym. Much to the delight of the childcare workers.
Malibu Ken. At the gym. Made sense to me.
Malibu Ken and Jensen were inseparable. Until today. I heard a loud wail from another room, followed by, “OH NO, JENSEN, HOW COULD YOU?”
And then a little boy came up to me with tears in his eyes, Malibu Ken head in one hand, chiseled body in the other.
“Dude. What happened?”
“I was twying to get him to wook down.”
“Well. He can look down now. In fact, he can see right down into his own neck. I’ll see what I can do for him.”
Which is code for “the best I can do for him is give him a decent burial in the bottom of the kitchen trash.” Because the 1960’s Barbies had interchangeable heads (which was kind of like being able to photoshop your Barbie), but after 1970, the heads came with some gizmo that wouldn’t allow you to reattach it.
No matter how much of your mom’s fingernail glue you used.
I bid farewell to you, Malibu Ken. And your impossibly blue eyes. May you rest in pieces.