Party time at Midge’s house. It’s Alan’s birthday, and while everybody was having some fun at the pool, I just stayed inside, my giant purple jumper hiding the swimsuit Barbie made me wear.
Midge has no books around, but lots of magazines, and a suspicious number of them featuring Barbie’s face on the cover. I took a few, peeked between the pages and put them over the coffe table, finding nothing particularly interesting.
I miss books. I wanna write one. Like “I Want My Hat Back,” but instead I’ll call it “I Want My Dignity Back.”
The kids were running wild, and for a second I almost thought Midge’s children might be normal, but then they teamed-up with Kelly and I saw that same, cruel look they share, like a single entity, like they’re under some sort of Simon Said chant, and suddenly I knew: They would follow Kelly to the end of the world—they would bring enemies heads back to her, if she wished so. Kelly is Barbie in progress; she’s the Queen Bee of the new generation.
“Ski-i-ipper,” Barbie said. She came from the pool, a crochet cover up over her waist, her shades hanging high on her forehead. She seemed tipsy, not that it was any surprise. “What are you doing here? Remove this thing you’re wearing and get in the pool—it’s such a lovely day.”
“No, thanks. I like to indulge myself with silence.”
“Oh, you party pooper,” said Barbie. Then, she covered her mouth, half-laughing. “Ops. Did I just say that?”
Yes, readers. She was drunk.
“See, Skipper… you can be such a little bothersome you even make me say bad words,” said Barbie. “Try to be nice. It’s Alan’s birthday.”
Hadn’t be the case, it would have made no difference, trust me. Barbie and Midge need no excuse to throw a party. I knew, however, she just wouldn’t let me be if we continued to occupy the same room, so I silently got up and went outside.
The sun was carcinoma degree. Almost blinded, I walked away from the pool, where the adults were laughing, sharing Cosmopolitans, and Stacie and her friends were playing with a big, glittery pink ball. Midge’s garden was big enough, and the plants had been cut in giant poodle’ shapes.
I could see her gates from a distance. Big Malibu gates. The kind that says people living up here in the house have money.
I saw Ken. His hands grabbing the gate’s bars, looking at us with hungry eyes. He’s a prisoner. Those bars were keeping him from the thing he wants the most, and thinking about that made me feel sorry. Then, I remembered the thing he wanted was Barbie, and pity turned into ickyness. I shivered.
“Want to bring your friend inside?” I heard someone asking.
I looked around, my eyes hurted by the sun, and saw this guy, very tall and very un-Malibu. Black hair, skin untouched by fake bronzers, plain white shirt. He was wearing sunglasses, lens so dark I couldn’t even see his eyes. And no thongs. No thongs.
“Not my friend,” I said. “And bringing him inside wouldn’t be such a good idea.”
“Sad. I wanted an excuse to get out of here,” said the stranger.
I looked again at him, this time shading my eyes with one hand.
“Nice jumper, by the way,” he said.
“Who are you, again?” I asked.
“Vincent,” said he. “Falcone. My father is the new neighbor. I’m here to represent the family.”
“You sound like a mobster.”
“You look like you’re wearing a Muppet.”
“Fair enough, Vincent.”
We continued to observe Ken. He continued to observe us.
“I’m Skipper Roberts,” I said.
“It’s Rachel, actually, but nobody calls me that. If you ask for a Rachel, nobody would know who the hell you’re talking about…”
“Alright, Rachel. Skipper” said Vincent. “Don’t worry. I have a larger-than-life nickname too. Your dignity is preserved.”
I must confess I do like Skipper. It is, in fact, the strongest memory I have from my father, of the time when we used to sail together, with no Barbie, no Stacie, and long before Kelly’s birth. He’d call me his skipper, and then the rest of the family decided to adopt the name too. But that was something I didn’t feel like sharing with a guy I had just met. By all I knew, he could be one of Barbie’s many spies, and many spies have many eyes.
“You met my sister, I suppose,” I said. “Midge’s best friend.”
“Blonde. Looks as if she has perpetual botox.”
Bullseye. I could almost see Vincent conjuring up Barbie’s image, and then comparing it with yours truly. He stared at me in slight confusion, and raised his eyebrows.
“She’s your sister?” He asked. “I don’t see the resemblance.”
“Yeah… I’m surprised nobody told you that before. It kinda precedes everything.”
“What about him? Don’t tell me he’s your brother.”
He motioned in Ken’s direction. Ken was now drooling over the bars.
“No. That’s just Ken,” I said.
Someday I’ll be invencible
I never thought I would say that, but I feel bad for Ken.
He’s been begging around Barbie’s house for days, now. Bearded. And accepting coins, apparently.
I can’t remember Ken having ever grown a beard, except for that one time when he decided to experiment some shaving techniques and then just couldn’t get rid of his stubble after a few months of trying, causing Barbie to veto the whole thing.
The one who hates anything that’s not as smooth as a baby soft buttocks.
I wish I could say something to her, point him out, but I don’t think she’s even noticed Ken is around. You see, Barbie suffers from this type of colorblindness, which makes impossible for her to perceive any kind of misery — not to mention ragged clothing and messed hair. Just yesterday, I saw Ken watching over her with abandoned puppy eyes, but Barbie spared him not even a look.
She’s in love. She has Blaine, the new project.
Today, when I asked her about Ken, she seemed genuinely confused, as if I were talking about a long time buried past.
“Ken, darling? What about Ken?” she said.
“Well, have you seen him? Talked to him? Is he OK?”
“No. And I don’t know. Why would I?”
I raised my eyebrows.
“Because… you know, he was your boyfriend for at least a century, or something,” I said. “Or more, depending on your real age.”
She looked at me. Looked hard. Angrily, I could see. I had interrupted her vodka-based breakfast to annoy and destroy, purely — or that’s the conclusion she drew.
“Blaine is my boyfriend, Skipper,” she said.
“In his defense, he doesn’t seem that excited about it…”
“Oh, and what do you mean? What would you know, poor, boyfriendless Skipper?” said Barbie.
Her eyes shone with evilness.
There she was, my big sister, sitting at the table with a face still half-covered with mud mask, her wet hair hidden in a pink towel. She seemed a bit shabby, at least by her own standards. The new day’s magic hadn’t kicked in yet.
Then, it hit me. I realized that this Barbie — the morning Barbie — was the closest thing I’d ever get to see of the real Barbie.
“Must be hard on you, always seeing me happy and loved, while never getting any,” Barbie said. “It’s OK. I know jealousy, Skipper. I do.”
Get any? With Blaine? Ken?
“That’s not the point.” I said.
“That’s always the point, dearest. I remember how you used to despise Ken. And now, the same with Blaine, who’s been nothing but a darling to us. See a pattern? When the girls and I love something, you just can’t help yourself. You hate it, don’t you?”
“Don’t try to imply something that is not.”
But Barbie was smiling. She got up, nails like claws, and gently brushed my hair with her own fingers.
“Don’t worry, love. Someday, somewhere, a guy — for whatever reason — will notice you. Despite your manners, your hair and your awful mouth, which I should make you wash with soap more often.” Barbie said.
Why do I even bother?
“OK with me,” I said, as she walked away. “As long as the soap doesn’t get to have your face on it.”
And not a single fuck was given that day, ladies and gentlemen.
gelophobia, geliophobia. An abnormal fear of laughter or being around people who laugh.
Makes some sense.
Maybe the house is haunted?
Woke up hearing laughs.
They came from inside the house, and there was another noise — footsteps.
I got up, silently, and grabbed the old baseball bat. Outside my room, everything was sunk deep into darkness. I waited, hands firmly pressing the worn-out wood.
It could be Barbie. But then again, it could not. I was pretty sure I had seen her getting ready for her beauty sleep some hours before, which usually includes peeling off her face and putting on that disgusting mud mask, the one that smells like a graveyard. Once that’s done, Barbie will never leave her room again, not until the next morning.
Or so I hope.
I heard the laugh again, somewhere far away. Maybe downstairs. It sounded childlike, a giggle. Actually, it sounded like Kelly’s.
Just to be sure, I went to check on her. Kelly was there, asleep in her room, her golden-blond hair sticking out of the covers, spread over the pillow like some soft silk mantle. Oh, that angelical little bastard…
One step after the other, I went back to my room. In bed, I kept holding the bat, but heard nothing more.
Strange days, these.
OMG IT WAS KEN.
News from a survivor
The Blaine situation has gone out of control. Barbie’s been dating him for more than a month now, and that’s the longest she has ever been with any man, as far as I know.
Any man but Ken, of course.
Meeting Courtney at the Banana Bikini, I shared my angst. The Blainess got to stop. I’m just too used to Ken to have another Ken in my life, but that’s what’s going to happen, eventually. Because Barbie will turn every boyfriend of hers into a sexless, douchey creep guy, Blaine or not-Blaine.
“He’s an Australian surfer. He must be immune or something, for sure,” said Courtney.
“He started wearing turtle-neck last week,” I told her.
But my opinion doesn’t matter, because my sisters are all in love with Blaine, or with the idea of reforming Blaine. We went — I, forcefully — shopping the other day. As Barbie hovered inside the stores, picking clothes and cupcakes trays, or clothes made of cupcakes, or whatever, Blaine faithfully waited outside, holding the load-some of bags.
Driven by pity, I decided to keep him company.
“So, sucks, right?” I asked, stepping by his side.
Blaine was smiling.
“You should get used, that stuff happens at least once a week,” I warned him. “Their closets are so deep you can reach Narnia if you walk them enough.”
He was still smiling.
A waxy smile.
I looked at him, and he looked at me as well. And I saw it. Pain. A cry for help. There was a cold drop of sweat coming down through his forehead, yet the smile wouldn’t cease.
He was begging me to make that stop. To make Barbie stop.
I should have warned him. I should.
As we made our way back home, Barbie driving her pink Corvette like she’s playing Mario Kart under alcohol influence, Blaine was as stony as never before.
“So, didn’t we have some fun, sweet thing? My butterscotch, my chocolate fudge?” Barbie asked.
“We sure did,” said Blaine.
“You know what we need to do, next time? We need to get you new tights. Tights are so fashionable.”
I don’t get it. If Barbie wants to date a man like Ken, why won’t she date the ACTUAL Ken? It’s not like he’s playing hard to get.
When we finally parked, I helped to unload the car, all those pink, sparkly bags, while Blaine went immediately inside. I bet he locked himself in the bathroom, to cry. Surely smile the whole day like that must give you the cramps.
“Ugh. Disgusting,” I heard Stacie complaining. She was looking away, holding her nose between two fingers.
I looked too, and there was what seemed to be a homeless man sitting by the sidewalk, near enough our gate. He was bearded, wearing a ragged brown coat. His feet were bare.
A homeless person? In Barbie’s Malibu neighborhood?
The poor guy. He has no idea.
“That man smells like rotten egg. Will someone remove him, please?” said Stacie.
I grabbed her ear and pulled one time, mercilessly. She gave a little cry.
“You’re a witch,” she said.
“Maybe,” I considered.
She showed me her pink tongue, but then quickly dropped the subject, running back to home, probably too excited to try on her new tiara.
Left alone, I kept watching the man. He was like a thing from the poems, the sad ones. A solitary, distant figure, shoulders holding the weight of a planet. That man had suffered, and the sight of him — there, in the plastic beauty of Barbie’s world — filled me with sympathy.
I walked in his direction, taking some coins from my pockets.
“There you go,” I said, handling him the money.
He was taken by surprise. He looked at me, but said nothing.
“Be careful. Don’t let the pink police get you,” I said.
Then, I walked away, before Barbie could notice him there.
“Thanks, Skipper,” I heard him say.
It didn’t occur me why he knew my name. But I’m Barbie’s Sister, and Barbie’s is the unofficial president around here, so it shouldn’t be a shock.
Inside, Barbie was busy, walking around while holding something bright red. It was a thong. I stopped, and she noticed me, looking right into my eyes. She smiled.
“Now, Skipper, don’t you think this will look just lovely on Blaine?” Barbie asked.
Investigation goes on
The ragged bunny sits over my desk. Still no clue of where the hell it came from.
I showed it to Kelly, asked if it was hers. She presented me with a dubious expression — almost terrified, I dare to say, as if the bunny was malicious. Or just plain ugly. Kelly, much like Barbie and Stacie, will run away from anything that is not blonde or prone to occasional pink highlights.
“No. That’s a stupid toy,” she said. ” That’s a bad toy.”
“What you mean, bad toy?”
But she ignored me, and the bunny. Then, she growled to herself — not very loud, but enough to make me go into a Holy Shit What? state.
I continue to lock my door every night.
Relationship advice: Stay away from Ken
Ken’s Lamborghini was parked outside our house when I got back from school. I didn’t realize there was anyone inside the car until I started hearing a sob, which only grew louder and louder, not unlike a Banshee’s wailing. As I got closer, I saw Ken weeping in the driver’s seat, covering his face with both hands. My first instinct told me to ignore him, pretend I had never noticed anything and just keep walking ‘til I reached the front door.
Against my best judgment, though, I knocked gently the car’s window.
When Ken lifted his head to see who had come to bother him, his face seemed deformed, red and bloated. So he was into Botox, again.
“Uh… are you OK, Ken?” I asked.
He looked angry. And somehow disappointed. I wonder if he had been expecting Barbie. I’m pretty sure he was. Barbie loves drama, after all, and Ken knows it. A future TLC show is their destiny.
“Do I look OK?” he asked back.
“Well…” I said. There really wasn’t much to be said, however. “Right-ho, then…”
And stepped away.
“Wait, Skipper,” he said. Then, he sighed. “Come here. Get in the car.”
In my imagination, Ken’s car is the place where he and Barbie share their most passionate, disgusting, frigid moments, so I promised myself never to even touch it, least of all enter it.
Yet, when he looked again at me, he seemed like a helpless child. His hair was even out of place.
I hesitantly made my way to the passenger’s seat door, and got in. In any case, I had the pepper spray inside my bag. And I had my hands, mankind’s most dangerous weapon.
Ken was drying his tears with a box of Kleenex. His face was darker, like coated with some thick paint, and I assumed he had subjected himself to some really bad tanning experience.
“Tell me everything. What does he looks like?” Ken asked.
“Blaine. That’s a doll’s name.”
I can see insanity in Ken’s face. And evil. Lots of evil.
“Is he blonder than I am?” he asked.
“Stacie says he has awesome highlights,” I said.
“Stacie likes him too?”
For a brief moment, he was almost crying again. I raised my hand, but decided against patting his shoulder. We’re not bros.
“If it counts for anything, Ken, I don’t think it’s gonna last…” I said.
Ken stared at me. I wanted to think it was hope what I saw in his eyes, but I can’t compromise.
“Really? Why not?” he asked.
“Because, you know, you and Barbie have a long… backstory together. Like, ancient. That surfer boy can’t just wipe that out…”
It didn’t seem like he was giving me that much credit.
Neither was I.
He looked away, at our house, and I could almost read his mind. I pictured Barbie coming out, dressing her favorite pink gown, smiling maniacally at him, Ken ready to forgiveness.
He let out a louder sigh.
“I hope you’re right, Skipper…”
But his voice seemed to imply that, if not, consequences would never be the same.
He was quiet, lost in his own thoughts, and I got off the car as silently as I could. Ken didn’t say good-bye or anything. But that’s not really surprising.
At night, as I looked through the window, his Lamborghini was no longer there.
If I liked drinking, this is why I would drink.
I got to meet Barbie’s new paramour. His name is Blaine. He is indeed an Australian, and a surfer, two facts he lets me know at least three times a day, as if I was truly interested. Kelly and Stacie seem to be already in love with him, as much as Barbie is — but Barbie’s love is not a reliable thing, and I almost feel the urge of warning Blaine so.
Just like Ken, he has this necessity of walking around without a shirt, no matter the occasion, but is graceful enough not to wear thongs.
Maybe today he was justified. We had a pool party, because Barbie believes this is the apogee of any social interaction.
I mean, they had a pool party. I just came and went by, grabbing food when hungry, going back to my room and praying they would cease that noise sometime soon.
At afternoon, when I got down to see if there was any soda left untouched by alcohol, Barbie was fetching some tequila. She was singing to herself, as happy as a chipmunk. I couldn’t help but approaching her.
“So much for Ken’s being the happiest boyfriend in the world, right?” I asked.
My sisters looked at me as if I was a bug, but that’s no longer surprising. Stacie, fluffying around us, seemed deeply insulted.
“He has fantastic highlights,” she told me.
I suppose this explains everything.
Hell hath no fury…
Now I know why Ken was such a mess.
Looks like Barbie is seeing some other guy. Not partying, as she usually does, but actually going out with one. He’s an Australian and a surfer, as far as I’m aware. Stacie was being overly mysterious about the whole thing, and I got this feeling that Barbie purposely told her not to spoil me.
I must confess, I’m torn. Barbie has been with Ken for so long I find hard picturing them apart. Not that I like Ken — Ken is some sort of weed, an evil weed, like in that movie where these guys get stuck in some ancient pyramid, and then a malignant plant starts eating them, driving them mad.
Ken drives me mad, that must be said; it’s his gift.
Even so, I can’t shake this fear that his replacement would never be any upgrade. I mean, it’s Barbie. I can’t trust her when it comes to men. And other things.
Waiting for developments. This is going to be good.
Or, really, just bad…