Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Silly Similies

I've always enjoyed Moiya's wonderfully off-the-wall similies, but sadly hadn't been writing them down until now. A few I've mentioned previously; others are new. I'll try to keep better tabs from now on. They have a lovely, surreal quality that leave me smiling:

"She's gonna have a headache like a horse."

"It's as quiet as a truck."

"I love you more than a rock and a piece of soap."

"He runs faster than an octopus!"

"She was still as a plant."

"Like I always do sometimes"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Barbie addendum

I’ve been asked to make two corrections to my last post:

  1. Moiya’s Mom has strenuously protested her innocence and says that she was not the one who first gave Moiya a Barbie.

  2. The doll formerly known as Princessa is no longer known as Princessa. As of Saturday when we acquired a three-inch-tall Barbie with purple hair and wings from McDonalds, we have a new story-line: The doll formerly known as Princessa (and who was evil) is no longer evil and goes by the name “Lily”. She is now the mother of the former Doll Who Had No Name - who is now named Princessa. And Princessa (formerly she of no name)is now the mother of the purple fairy Barbie - who is now also named Princessa (but who is known to everyone as Katie). Princessa/Katie has turned all of the other Barbies into fairies in order for them to assist her in her battle against an evil monster that is ravaging all of fairy-kind. So the other Barbies now have wings, albeit invisible ones.

    I hope that is all perfectly clear.

    Ken’s wings periodically vanish (which is pretty good, considering that they were invisible to begin with) while he’s in flight. Because it’s really funny when he crashes into the ground, and apparently fairies just have that kind of sense of humor.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Two weeks ago, I spent half an hour playing Barbies with my daughter by phone.

Let me say that again: Barbies. By phone.

I’m not a Barbie aficionado. Firstly, because I’m a guy. When I was little, boy Barbies (otherwise known as “Action Figures” to avoid damaging the Fragile Male Ego©) hadn’t been invented. I had army men – the ubiquitous little plastic soldiers that came in bags of about 17,000 and which were the bane of barefoot adults everywhere. We dug battle trenches in the flowers beds (much to my Father’s dismay) and laid each side out in battle formation. These were the non-enlightened days before the Parent’s Council had taught us that violent games in childhood make for violent adults. So we all had pistols, automatic weapons, grenades (which fired caps), and large rubber combat knives which we gleefully used to slash one another’s throats. The really violent stuff we reserved for the plastic troops. A plastic army man’s life expectancy made that of his live counterpart on D-Day looks long by comparison. We threw them, burned them, pelted them with dirt clods (which made a satisfyingly realistic puff on impact, and were also dug out of my Dad’s flower beds) and occasionally, positioned them around firecrackers to simulate the effects of landmines.

Toy soldiers were to be played with. I had no idea what the hell Barbies were for. My cousin Marci had several Barbies and I only ever saw her dragging them around by one leg as though she had just returned from the hunt. I was nearly ten before I realized that they didn’t come from the store naked and decapitated.

Later, I was taught that Barbie was an evil instrument of our male-dominated corporate overlords, designed to indoctrinate little girls into being decorative little consumers. As such I was determined to protect my daughter from them. I still hold to those views. And we have managed to protect our daughter from many of the worst excesses of unthinking consumerist greed. But I fought the Barbie – and I lost.

Moiya’s Mom got her a Barbie and the world didn’t end, nor did the advertising council climb through the bedroom window, so I unbent a bit and got her one. Actually, I got her two. They were part of a package set, and not made by Mattell. So technically they weren’t Barbie’s at all, but rather Barbie-sized. This was my first approach to the Barbie Learning Curve®

  1. Barbie knock-offs aren’t constructed like real Barbies and are often easier to dismember than the Mattel product.

    Little girls often bend doll arms with the same gentle loving concern as a linebacker and don’t really care which way the joint is *supposed* to bend.

    At first, I tried to explain to Moiya that her Barbie really wasn’t meant to have it’s arms twisted behind it’s back at an angle that would make Dr. Mengele wince. I received a blank stare. So I got really, really good at reattaching doll arms.

    (Bonus: once the arms have been ripped off, Barbie is about 1000% easier to wedge into her tiny, tiny clothes.)

  2. There is no consistent construction for real Barbies either.
    Parts that are made to bend on some Barbies don't bend on others. Get used to reattaching things.

  3. Never ever hold a Barbie by the legs which brushing the hair.
    I used amuse msyself during interminable Barbie sessions by brushing the doll's hair. It at least something I could wrap my male brain around. And Barbie hair is fashioned from a type of fiber specifically formulated to to turn into rope unless brushed regularly. I discovered that the easiest way to get at the hair for brushing is to hold Barbie up by her ankles and brush straight down.

    I also discovered that this will rip her head clean off.

  4. Barbie heads don’t reattached the same way as Barbie arms.

  5. No matter what you do with Barbie, no matter how carefully you follow the instructions given you by your little tyrant, you will be instructed that you are “doing it wrong.”

  6. Barbies, apparently, can fly.
    (I mentioned this oddity to adult females of my acquaintance and they uniformly responded with “Well, of course” in the pitying tone women reserve for egregious examples of male stupidity)

  7. Lifting up Barbie’s skirt and commenting on the pebbly, embossed surface meant to resemble panties by referring to her loudly and repeatedly as “Lumpy Butt” will get you in trouble.

Our two faux Barbies, Stella and Cupcake (I named one and Moiya named the other. Can you tell which is which?) were soon joined by a genuine Barbie named Princessa and then, at my daughter’s request, by a “Fashionista Ken.” I tried to push for the Ken to be named Prince Edwardo and used to make him talk like Ricardo Montoban, but was overruled. So I made him stand outside the dollhouse and call “STELLAAAAAAAH!”in my best Marlon Brando voice instead, which amused me greatly. But I was overruled on that as well.

I now amuse myself by making Ken talk like a surfer dude and fuss incessantly about the state of his hair. (We all take our pleasures where we can.)

Stella, Cupcake, Ken/Eduardo, Princessa and a Christmas addition who is – as yet – nameless, live in a three-story dollhouse in one corner of Moiya’s bedroom. Their private life varies from the mundane, to the bizarre, to the surreal. Ken/Eduardo is married to both Stella and Cupcake. (Cupcake is also his sister - the genealogy of Stella remains unknown). Princessa has occasionally tried to put the moves on Ken/Eduardo, but as she is EVIL and he is GOOD Ken is able to resist her charms. Ken, Stella, and sisterwife Cupcake live with an assortment of Littlest Pet Shop figurines for whom they serve as guardians/teachers. (At one time a rather elaborate schoolhouse was constructed out of building blocks, but it eventually has to be removed so that Daddy could vacuum.)

Recently Cupcake gave birth to ten or twelve tiny yellow plastic kangaroos as well. Primarily they move around the dollhouse house in a pack, watching people. I don’t know where Moiya got them and I’m sure as hell not going to inquire too closely into their family relationships. Singly they're cute. In a pack, they give me the heebie-jeebies.

The only person definitely identified as the offspring of Ken and Cupcake (despite being the senior wife, Stella doesn’t appear to have conjugal rights) is a tiny toy figure of uncertain origin, possibly a Happy Meal Barbie clone who has long since lost her clothing and who wears only the diaper that was painted onto her body. Named Summer, she began life as a good child, but has recently gone over to the dark side. She’s mean, surly, and is possessed of magic powers. Personally, I think that she’s Ken and Princessa's’s love child. But I keep such opinions to myself.

The other residents of the Barbie house are an assortment of figures gleaned from various sources over the years: a Little Boy Blue, two Princesses, a Mad Hatter, and one mermaid who lives in the family bathtub. The cast will swell as the ongoing narrative demands, to occasionally include several My Little Ponies (who trade off transport duties with a cardboard Pontiac gleaned from Steak and Shake two years ago. The ponies can fly. The car, not so much) and even one of Moiya's life-sized baby dolls (who, being much too large to actually fit in the Barbie house, is appropriately named “Giant Baby”)

On the 2nd floor, Ken is telling bed time stories to the little dudes, accompanied by the faithful Pig (on the piano), Stella (at right) and The Unnamed One (holding Summer in a rare well-behaved moment)
Ken seems to be the paterfamilias of the group and primary caregiver to the children, though his women lead him a dog’s life with their constant quarreling. His one source of solace is his pet pig (named “Pig”) that follows him wherever he goes. (All of which could explain why Ken sometimes gets moody and wanders off across the bedroom floor, accompanied by Pig). One particularly grim story line saw Princessa abducting Pig and killing him, presumably in a fit of pique over an unsuccessful overture to Ken. Ken was inconsolable until Stella was able to bring Pig back to life through methods that remain a bit vague.

By and large, Daddy discourages story lines that wander into the violent. Granted, someone is always being mean to someone else in a household as large as this one. Hitting happens, but shooting is not allowed. Malefactors are given a stern talking to by Ken (to whom they are all “Little Dude”). Continued failure to observe the rules of polite behavior result in the perpetrator being sent to time out by being shut up in the nearby toy oven (Daddy decided that 6 was not the right age to mention unfortunate historical overtones). Good children get to go and play in the playground built beside the house out of toy remnants and various odds and ends.

When the Barbies are not quarreling, dressing, or making Ken’s life a living plastic hell, they generally hold class for the assorted children. Recently this has tended to involve actual teaching. In an obvious reflection of real life, when Moiya was in kindergarten the Barbies spent most of their time shepherding the children to and from the upper floors of the house to the bathroom on the first floor. They had to go in shifts, and it was not permitted to take any shortcuts. Barbies can fly, but the other plastic people cannot, and they had to be carefully lined up (girls in one line, boys in the other) and then each toy was individually walked down the stairs from the third floor to the second. A second line would then form outside the elevator which connects the second floor to the first. No one could go down the elevator until everyone had made it down the stairs first. And no one could actually go to the toilet until everyone had made it down the elevator and had lined up again outside the bathroom.

And once everyone had gone, the entire procedure had to be repeated again to get them all upstairs again. I usually took about twenty minutes from start to finish.

I hate bathroom breaks. So does Ken.

There are very few good things about having to spend part of each week away from one's child. But I had assumed one of them at least was not having to play Barbies. I say this in the full knowledge that in a few years when Moiya has gotten older and no longer wants to play with me, that I will look back on this time with a palpable longing. Nevertheless, I thought a household with just me and the cat unlikely to be visited by Cupcake and friends. So I was taken aback when, during my call to tell Moiya goodnight, she wanted to play Barbies with me.

“But,Umm.. but… I’m here and you’re there.”
“That’s okay.. go get Ken!
“Go get Ken.”
“Daddy! Go get Ken!”

Daddy didn’t really go upstairs to get Ken, but made appropriate stair-climbing noises and declared Ken present.

“Oh no! Help me Ken!”
“Um.. who is this?”
“This is Abigail!”
“I’m Cupcake’s sissy! You have to help us! Me and my five sisters!”
“Um.. Oh.. okay (ahem) Dude! It’s Ken! Wasshappenin’ lil’ dudes?”
“It’s evil Ken! He’s here and he’s being mean to my sisters!”
“Well dude, that’s bogus! Like.. call the police.”
“We did, but they aren’t here yet! We need to come over there!”
“Well, get in the car and drive over!
“We can’t! Only Cynthia is old enough to drive.”
“But evil Ken hit her with a hammer and it tore her leg off! You’ll have to send the horses”
(gruff voice) “HELLO!”
“Um.. who is this?”
“Um.. no way dude!”
“Send the horses!”
“Is this Abigail?”
“No, this is Cynthia.”
“Oh. Sorry to hear about your leg, dude.”
“Oh, my sissy put a bandage on it and I’m all better. But there’s too much snow for us to drive. And we all won’t fit in the car. Send the horses, Orange Blossom and Silky Mane!”

And so it went. For three days. Evil Ken went to jail. He escaped from jail to threaten Good Ken. He went back to jail again. We all rode our valiant horses to safety through the ice and snow. And nobody had to go to the bathroom.

I need to learn how you fix a Barbie leg with a band-aid though..