The first time I ever spent my very own hard-earned money for something special, I was eight. Having pretty much never paid for anything in my life, I’d saved up quite a few dimes from my weekly 20-cent allowance (earned through such thoroughly backbreaking activities as feeding the dog and setting the dinner table). I spent an evening counting the disgorged contents of my yellow ceramic ducky bank, stacking until I had 17 neat little towers of ten dimes apiece. I was feeling fairly full of myself for having saved such a fortune, quite adult and responsible, and then I begged, badgered, and bugged my mom until she agreed to take me to Toys ‘R Us.
When we finally arrived at that Nirvana of Plastic Kids’ Stuff, I rushed to the Barbie section where I found her: a “Loving You” Barbie Doll. She was the most magnificent Barbie I’d ever seen. Lavishly shod in the equivalent of 6-inch white Stripper Heels, Barbie wore a puff-sleeved, heart-dotted, ankle-length white chiffon gown with a breath-defyingly tight red velvet bodice. She was bedecked in gigantic fake ruby earrings and a matching ring that was, in reality, a plastic red dot on a stick that went through a hole in her hand and got lost in my brown shag carpet within the week. She was a living Valentine with Barbie’s trademark blonde hair in an I-Dream-of-Jeannie ponytail. She was gorgeous and perfect and completely inappropriate for playtime. I absolutely had to have that doll. (more…)