Barbie Meets Godzilla
(In case you hadn’t noticed there’s a whole motif going on with the story titles ;’)
Who would have thought a few ounces of plastic and fabric could cause so much angst. I could never see the attraction myself (you would be picking your jaw up off the floor if I said that I did ;’) – but the kids dearly loved them. Over several seasons they accumulated a half dozen or more. They would trade them – and the blizzard of clothes – back and forth all the time. My mom would meticulously pick out new outfits for her granddaughters (note the plural) Janie (my daughter from a previous marriage) and Lisa (my stepdaughter). Lisa's grandma would lavish her granddaughter with an endless array of stuff. Everyone except my (then) wife and MIL could see the inequity and deliberate slight to my kid. I caused one particularly nasty row one time by pointing it out. She became defensive and antagonistic but was otherwise indifferent.
Wifey had chronically gotten the short end of the stick growing up – or so she had convinced herself. So she was consumed with scores to settle. I don’t think that she ever figured it out that she was fighting ghosts. It seemed that the better the situation we built for ourselves (AKA I built for us) the more irrational and combative she became. Without a clear and obvious enemy to target her aggressions against she instead chose those closest to her. Both of her “parents” (I use the term loosely) were more than a little dysfunctional but they managed to conceal it beneath a schizophrenic camouflage of pseudo-generosity and contempt. They had made her who she was but somehow (mostly) escaped her wrath. But I’m straying…
I can no longer recall which xmas it was that we first started buying the collector Barbies. My recollection was that we saw them at Toys~R~Us. They were the same size doll as the ones we had been buying but they were a “deluxe” model with themed outfits and accessories. And they were spendy! Random hadn’t come along yet so the tradition started with two individual dolls. Each subsequent year we would obtain two more. We never purchased duplicates. The curious thing was that, although they were gifted to the kids, they would be grabbed back up after the grand unveiling and placed on the top shelf of our closet – for safekeeping of course.
They really were pretty little things. The girls just loved them….from afar. And why not? They made a gorgeous presentation with their little outfits and their elaborate cases. At various times the girls would attempt to seek permission to play with them but they were always denied. And so they took position on the top shelf, silent sentinels to a distorted sense of compassion. And soon enough forgotten.
In the spring of ’94 when my dearly beloved conspired to separate me from my home, my children, and my property I had one brief moment when I could rescue some of my and my daughters’ possessions. I jumped at the opportunity and grabbed up what I could. As I raced through “our” bedroom I spied the discarded treasures on the top shelf. I knew that some of them belonged to my daughter. I couldn’t recall which ones. I also knew that if I didn’t take custody of them my daughter would never see her property ever again.
So I snatched up the whole works.
Later I reunited them with my daughter. Talk about an anti-climax! She no longer cared. She had never been allowed to give a damn about them and so now that she was free to possess them it was too late.
The magic was dead.
She and I made arrangements to return Lisa’s to her and my daughter gave hers away to Lisa. Later I heard that Lisa, who was similarly weary of “look but don’t touch”, gave them to Random – who left them with her mother. Full circle and a pyrrhic victory for the ice queen.
What’s more pitiful than a child’s toy that is never played with?