Saturday, March 12, 2011


Hands down, the best toy of my childhood was Barbie.  And, I am not ashamed to say that I was known to pull her out and play with her as late as the eighth grade.  I can still remember my first Barbies, which came from Santa: My First Barbie (obviously) and Horse Lovin' Barbie.

My First Barbie

Horse Lovin' Barbie
Notice Horse Lovin' Barbie's bling!  She was awesome and I played with her until the naugahyde on those red pants was cracked and peeling off.  Speaking of clothes, changing Barbie's outfits was one of my favorite parts of playing with her.  When you are a little girl, this can be difficult because of Barbie's bent arms and rubbery legs that aren't conducive to pulling on tight pants.  My sister, Bridget, just couldn't be bothered with all that and went through a phase where she let her Barbies go nude.  She just claimed that they were all wearing "peach jogging suits."

Bridget and I were lucky enough to have a play room in our house where we could leave our Barbies and their "houses" out for long periods of time, which allowed us to create never-ending dramatic sagas involving many characters.  For instance, Oriental Barbie was always evil and diabolical (which may have been a bit of racial profiling).

Oriental Barbie
But, Wedding Day Midge was always a saint.  (I mean, just look at that sparkle in her eyes.)

Wedding Day Midge
Irish Barbie tended to always be a jilted spinster.  There was just something about her hair that, even as children, we knew could never land her a husband.

Irish Barbie
And, you didn't even have to be a Barbie to be a part of our storyline.  Take for instance, Sour Grapes.  She is technically a Strawberry Shortcake character, but she was just the right size to be someone's stooped over, arthritic mother (namely Oriental Barbie's--can't you see the resemblance?)

Sour Grapes
When a Barbie would break, we never threw it away, rather it only added a new element to our story line.  When Heart family Ken's leg broke off, we just made him a war veteran who returned as an amputee.  I mean, because you commonly see amputee war vets wearing pastel suits and white dress shoes.  The strange thing about Ken was that his one piece outfits always seemed to shrink over time, somewhat unexplainedly. 

The Heart Family (pre-amputation)
Another doll's leg split open, revealing something that looked very much like a bone, so she was from then on out always suffering from a compound fracture.  But the saddest incident involved Cool Times Barbie.

Cool Times Barbie
I took her over to my friend Jessie's house to play one afternoon in a Payless Shoes bag--you might remember the ones from the early 90s that were brown plastic with yellow polka dots and had a drawstring?  Well, once at Jessie's house, I left that bag propped up against the heater in her family room.  It stood there, abandoned, until Jessie's mom smelled the horrible odor of burning plastic.  The result was Cool Times Barbie's arm melted and gnarled, with bits of the Payless bag permanently embedded within it.  I was devastated.  She was my favorite Barbie of the moment, and now she couldn't even wear her pink bolero.  Upon returning home is a depressed state, my Dad suggested that I rename her Trauma Center Barbie.  And so, she became a tragic beauty who was maimed in a terrible car accident.

Bridget and I had tons of Barbies, but I have to mention some of my favorites, mostly based on their fashion sense.

Benetton Barbie
California Dreams Barbie
Perfume Pretty Whitney
Rocker Midge

Despite all the fun I had with Barbie, she also once got me a detention when I was in the seventh grade.  Before I continue, let me just say that experimenting with cutting a Barbie's hair is never successful.  In fact, the results can be downright scary.  Once cut, a Barbie's hair will stand straight out from her head at an alarming angle only seen in people who have undergone electroshock therapy or on the Bride of Frankenstein. At a sleepover  my friends and I produced a hairdo on a Barbie which looked something like this:

The Barbie, who became known as Choppy, terrified me (which will not surprise anyone who is familiar with my neurotic tendencies).  When I opened my locker and Choppy came flying out, I let out a blood-curdling scream that earned me some after school time with my teacher, Miss Herman.

But, even something as terrifying as Choppy could never reduce my love of the world's best toy--Barbie!


  1. Oh Gretch......once again you have taken me on a fun walk down memory lane, tears and all.

  2. You forgot my favorite, Peaches and Cream Barbie! Only a toy from the '80s could have that much peach colored chiffon. Seriously though, I look forward to every update on your blog and have been known to read them out loud to my mom. Thanks for such fantastic stories!

  3. I never had her, Ashli! My friend Caryn did and I was always jealous!

  4. I had California Dreams and Cool Times Barbie. They must have been on sale at Hills! :-)

    I absolutely love your blog!

  5. You know that these Barbies are in my closet at Mom's....I can't wait until we can get them out and tell Sophie about all of them!

  6. Ahh...Hills! Loved that place!