Just before my ninth birthday, I fell in love. It was spring and the object of my affection was on display outside Montgomery Ward's at the mall across town. (It was called the MJ Mall and it was in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I have a vision in my mind of how to get there from the house we lived in then--we used to go so often. Of course, whether the vision would hold up in reality, I have no idea and I'm not particularly interested in finding out.)
It was a beautiful bicycle called the Strawberry Dream. It was gorgeous and designed long before that annoying freckle-faced Strawberry Shortcake doll came on the scene so it was covered in actual strawberries and strawberry flowers and leaves and the seat was the cutest pink-and-cream checkered pattern--it was just gorgeous.
I was with my father when I first saw it. I oohed and aahed and he said, "Well your old bike is looking kind of old...and you do have a birthday coming up, maybe you should talk to your mother."
So I talked (okay, whined a little) to my mother and she said, "We could get it for you as an early birthday present, but...we're going to be moving next month and our new house is way out in the country and we thought you might want a pony instead!"
Well, the choice was obvious, I guess, but I did hesitate, believe it or not, fixated a little on the squiggly little plants and the adorable strawberries sprinkled all over the bike--my bike, I already called it--but, in the end, with my mother's assurances that I would get a pony--a real, live pony!!!--for my birthday, I relented and let go of the (Strawberry) Dream.
So, in May, we moved and in July, along came my birthday. Of course, there was no pony--as a parent (especially one on a limited budget), I completely understand how these things happen--how a plan, a "promise," even, can fall apart in the face of unexpected fiscal realities--but as a nine-year-old who unwrapped Ballerina Barbie and her Dream Plaza, I was a bitter little kid.
Ballerina Barbie was the first--and only--Barbie I ever owned. It probably broke some Federal Trade Commission* guidelines for an American girl to make it to the age of nine without owning a Barbie, but I'd never wanted one. I just wasn't a Barbie sort of girl, which made my mother's choice all the more confounding.
Little Sister was of course delighted by the three-story mall with its working elevator and her Barbies couldn't wait to shop there. My Barbie? She owned the mall and on the rare afternoons I spent "playing Barbie," my Barbie went to her day job (as a brain surgeon--her office was in the linen closet--where I chucked her so I could sit in the hall with a book across my knees, while my sister's Barbies shopped to their hearts' content).
Needless to say, Barbie is a subject fraught with lots of angst for me--and apparently, I'm not the only one. I found this month's perfect post over at Suburban Bliss. In Mammoth Barbie, Melissa writes of her own thwarted dreams where Barbie was concerned. And though her take is much different than mine, the emotions--especially those "my parents sooo don't get it" feelings--really struck a chord. As with any "perfect post" or other piece of quality writing, this one is about more than just what it's about, if that makes any sense.
So here's my button--
And, Melissa, it's all yours.
Check out other winners at Suburban Turmoil and/or Petroville.
*These rules have changed but not been abandoned completely: now they apply not to Barbie but to Bratz dolls and Disney Princess crap.
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