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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barbie, My Gay Brother, Lesbians, Ken, a Horse and "The One Thing that Boys Want from Girls" by Amanda Tien

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBIE Circa 1980s"
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Photograph by Sogno all'Alba.
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[This is part of a still unperformed stand-up comedy act]

When I was young, my mother used to tell me, “Be careful Amy, boys only want one thing” but she never told me what exactly that one thing boys want from girls. So, it was very confusing, especially to a 7-year old girl growing up in a very conservative family.  I asked my mom, who was quite old. I was the youngest child. My mother had me when she was already in her 40s and she belonged to a different generation, very conservative Chinese Filipino.  So I asked my mom, “What is that one thing mom?” She would say I would find out soon enough but I must be careful not to give it too soon. I only have one brother and so my brother was the only “boy” that I could think of who would want to get that one thing from me.  My brother is gay.  He was 5 years older than me so he was 12 when I was 7. The only thing my brother wanted from me was my Barbie doll.  We’ll get to that later.

I used to have this “Happy Birthday” Barbie, which my brother convinced my mom to buy for me and that saying much because my mother didn’t want to buy me that hideous white Barbie. But I remember how I quietly looked at my brother as he pleaded and pleaded to my mom and buy me a Barbie.  So when my mother finally gave in, I was very thankful to my brother. “Happy Birthday Barbie” was the one of the cheapest. Now, “she was not your typical Barbie because, first of all, her hair was not what you call versatile.  Her hair was permanently done for a birthday party, like sweet f***ing sixteen hairdo. A large part of the top, the bangs, was very curly and the back was straight and long, y’know, the kind of hair that you’d get if you would be going to your prom, very 80s hairstyle. It’s not for everyday wear.



The funny thing was my other playmates had Barbies too. They had Malibu Barbie, Barbie that could go on a horse, forgot what f***ing name she had, but she could ride a horse because she had to. Ken was f***ing inadequate.  I mean, if she couldn’t ride Ken, then she might as well ride a horse. And of course, the horse was also anatomically insufficient; let me put it that way. So being Barbie is so frustrating if you think about it. But at least on a horse, she could do some bouncing around.  Anyway, my playmates and I would play with our Barbies and we would pretend we would go on a picnic and my “Happy Birthday Barbie,” of course, had her crazy party hair. Our Barbies would go swimming and of course, my “Happy Birthday Barbie” would still have her party hair. My playmates’ Barbies had long hair, some straight, some wavy, and they could tie their hair depending on what activity. My playmates could put hats on their Barbies and they would look like Michelle Pffeifer or Heather Locklear. I once put hat on my “Happy Birthday Barbie” and looking from hindsight, I think she looked like a drugged Paris Hilton, like she just came from a party and was too stoned to go to the hairdresser to have her perm removed.  So, when our Barbies would go swimming, “Happy Birthday Barbie” still had that party hair.   I would throw her in the water to go swimming and when I pulled her out, her perm stayed.  Imagine if that were real life. “Hello ‘Happy Birthday Barbie,’ Malibu Barbie and I are going mountain climbing with Ken, ah, oh, you’re hair is inappropriate.”  My Barbie would say, “It’s cool; my perm is set for life. Those insects would just bounce on it or get lost. No worries.”  Even funnier was that my “Happy Birthday Barbie” only had one dress, this white chiffon lacy dress, it is actually a long gown, it was almost bad, the kind you would wear during the Golden Globe and ended up being in the worst dressed list the following day. And she would wear that everywhere, on a picnic, on the swimming pool, horseback riding. I mean, my “Happy Birthday Barbie,” if she were a real person would be a freak.  Other Barbies would probably look at her and say, “Ah ‘Happy Birthday Barbie,’ we’re going scuba diving and I think you’re overdressed, and isn’t your birthday over many months ago?” My Barbie would say, “Everyday is my birthday bitch, shut up.”

Anyway, to go back to my brother; I was scared of my brother because of what my mom said that “boys only want one thing.” I was convinced that my brother wanted to kidnap my Barbie.  

He would always ask me, “Where’s your Barbie? Where did you put her?” 
I answered, “in my drawer.”
“What! You can’t put her there; the cockroaches would eat her face, and it would ruin her permanent make up!” 

So, I took her out and my brother put her on the bedroom table. He made her stand, which amazed me that he could do that because, as you know, Barbie isn’t exactly balanced. Her boobs are way too big for her and so she needs help otherwise she would tip over.  Clearly, only a man could design such a body.  Anyway, my brother made this small contraption to make Barbie stand and since “Happy Birthday Barbie” was wearing a long gown, her long skirt concealed the makeshift stand and so she really looked like she was standing.  Then, my brother lifted up her arms like she was in a Miss f***ing Universe Pageant.  Then, he put the table lamp next to her so “Happy Birthday Barbie” had a huge spotlight.  That worried me a bit because the heat of the incandescent light might burn her perm, not good not good, crsipy perm, and I kind of suspect, she's not really a natural blonde.  Hmmm?

The good thing about it ‘though was, my brother took pity on my Barbie and he made her different outfits. I mean he would get pieces from our old curtains and make her sports outfit, casual wear and even swim wear, and because he made them, my “Happy Birthday Barbie” became a classy, eccentric kind of model. She had an offbeat kooky fashion style, kind of like Carrie Bradshaw, except she couldn’t smoke and type.  Because my Barbie’s clothes were original, that meant she never bought off the rack. Classy. My trailer park Barbie had become classy.  My other playmates got so jealous and they wanted my brother to make them outfits too and they would come to our house with pieces of their table cloth or curtains.  But my brother was so bitchy and he would say, “I’m busy but I’ll try,” and of course he never did, which makes me very proud because my “Happy Birthday Barbie” had her own fashion designer.  But it also sort of got out of hand some times.  I would take my Barbie to play with my playmates and he would say,

“Is that what she’s wearing?” 
I would quietly nod.
He would yell, “That’s stupid! She can’t wear that and look at her hair, it’s all messy. You don’t know how to love her!” 

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I was kind of startled. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, he didn’t say that I didn’t know how to take care of her, he f***ing said “You don’t know how to love her!” Like, okay, should I turn lesbian for my “Happy Birthday Barbie?”

And y’know what, that actually happened, well I didn’t turn lesbian but one of my playmates became a proud lesbian.  I should have known because she always used to beat and punch her brother’s G.I. Joes.  Come to think of it, I think her Ken was not actually a man. I mean, it makes sense now that I think about it. I think her Ken was actually a very butch woman. Ken may have been short for Kendra, and they were a couple but since we were only 7 or 8 years old, she hid their relationship. They were not out. It was a different time. It was the 80s after all.  The doll world was not ready for openly lesbian dolls.  Now, I love my lesbian friend, we still are friends and she still says the same thing that she used to tell my “Happy Birthday Barbie,” like “Amy, your hair is inappropriate,” and I would say, “Shut up bitch, everyday is my birthday.”  

End of Part One

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