Chapters 30-38


Barbie's birthday is a national holiday in Plasticopia.

That afternoon at the Small house...

"Yum. What's the occasion?"

"Oh, hi, sweetie. Back from class already? I thought I'd make a cake to celebrate Barbie's birthday. It's her fiftieth, you know. A big one."

"Actually, I had forgotten. As they say, ignorance is bliss."

"Oh, come on. She's a national celebrity. Millions of girls have grown up with her as a role model."

"Exactly. That's why they have such distorted body images and spend six times more on makeup in their lifetime than they do on books."

"Say, what's this? You've been shopping?"

"Just something I picked up for Mikey for Barbie's Day. Wanted to surprise her."

"You bought her a Barbie doll?"

"Every little girl needs a Barbie."

"For what? Target practice?"

"I really don't know what you have against her. "

"She's a horrible role model for young girls, that's what. What does she teach them? That they should be anorexic bimbos whose only thought is what skimpy clothing they should change into next?"

"Barbie is not a bimbo! Why, she's done more in her lifetime than most women."

"Like what?"

"Well, she's been an astronaut and a baby doctor and a teacher and a secretary and she's even run for president. How many women can say that?"

"All a publicity stunt. The woman has nothing between her ears."

"Here's Mitzi. Let's see what she thinks."

"We're talking about Barbie. I say she's a waste of space which could be better used for other things. Like a recycle bin. What do you say?"

"Oh, speaking of Barbie, guess what! They're throwing a surprise birthday party for her at the coffee shop."

"No! How exciting!"

"Yes. It seems it was an old hang-out, a real coffee house, back in the 'beat' days -- you know, with poetry readings and skinny guys with goatees in black turtlenecks and berets. So every year her friends throw her a surprise party at the coffee shop."

"Does she ever catch on?"

"Oh, no, like I told you. Every year it's a surprise. They always come up with some excuse to get her there and she never suspects."

"I rest my case."

"Well, I gotta run."

"Bye, Maggie."

"Randi is in the living room playing with Doolittle, okay? I probably won't be back until late. Can she sleep over?"

"Of course. We'll have our own little party. So have fun! You are so lucky to be the in the same room with the Fashion Icon herself. Do you think you could get her autograph? Remember all the details so you can tell us tomorrow."

"I'll try. Ta-ta."

And a little later....

Barbara's friends have all gathered at the coffee shop for her surprise party.

There's plenty of snacks to fuel the gay spirits while they wait for Barb to arrive.

Mitzi and Sharon are manning the business end of the party, pouring drinks and refilling food trays.

Mitzi is fascinated by the glamorous and sophisticated guests, so well-preserved, even though they are all at least middle-aged, if not dead. When no one else is in earshot, she plies Sharon with questions.

"Who's the handsome older gent in the straw bowler?"

Sharon is familiar with them all, after many years of surprise birthday parties for Barbie. "Oh, that's Ken. He was Barbie's first boyfriend. For a long time he was her steady. They've dated on and off through the years, but now I hear they're just friends, although--to tell the truth--I think he's still got the hots for her. Doesn't he seem a little forlorn to you?"

"Why didn't they marry?"

"Who knows? Maybe because Barbie wasn't always faithful. See that fellow next to Ken?"


"That's Joe. Barbie dated him occasionally, when Ken wasn't available. Quite frankly, I would have gone with Joe straight-away. He's a lot more buff. "

"She likes her men blond, I guess."

"Usually, but she also had a soft spot for dark and handsome. Take the guy in hot pink, the one talking to Dorothy..."

"Barbie had a lttle thing going with him back in the 70s. I see he still likes those psychedelic colors. I guess if something works for you, you stick with it."

"What is Dorothy doing here? She must be at least ninety."

"More like a hundred. But Dorothy was quite popular when Barbie was young. All through the sixties and seventies she starred in an annual production about her trip to Oz. It was quite the adventure; there are some who think she never actually went to Oz...except in her own head. Who knows what she was smoking."

"How about the guy in black? What's his story? His makeup is almost as heavy as the lady next to him."

"Sometimes I forget what a baby you are. That's Elvis. He was a contemporary of Barbie. He died a number of years back--or so the rumor goes--but they bring him back every year for the celebration. So of course every year the makeup gets heavier."

"No wonder he seems so stiff."

"And the redhead?"

"That's Lucy. Also a contemporary."

"I like the outfit."

"For sure. They knew how to dress back then."

to be continued....



(Episode 9)

When last we left our dear readers, it was Barbie's 50th birthday, and all her friends and well-wishers were waiting for her to grace the festivities at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop, where they had been throwing surprise birthday parties for their beloved Barbie for the past fifteen years.

Of course, that was back before Swine Flu reared its piggy head to frighten the world. Back before torture was officially called torture.

Back when Plasticopians were still innocent, and the world was a kinder, softer place.

Barbie's birthday is history, now. Just another story in the Book of Barbie.


It's a dark and stormy night.

The wind is raging and wailing at the Ratchet home, deep in the Northern Hemisphere.

But inside, all is calm. Supper is over, the dishes neatly tucked away.

Betty is planning the next week's meals while America plays nearby.

Baby Adam is snuggled in his bed.

The older children are doing homework -- good obedient Anna in the livingroom.

The other two in the quiet of their rooms...

Oh, my. That doesn't look like homework. Poor dear sweet little Alice, so easily distracted from the straight and narrow path that her sister trods with such a sure tread. What is to become of her?

And Henry? I'm afraid he finds school entirely irrelevant; that term paper seems very dull indeed when his latest love interest is only a phone call away.

Yes, it is life as usual in the Ratchet household as the clock strikes eight.

None suspecting that their very ordinary lives are about to change, for at that very moment a stranger stands upon their doorstep, seeking shelter from the storm.

To be continued....



(Episode 9)

It is a quiet evening at the Ratchet home, in spite of the storm raging outside. It is also Barbie's 50th birthday. Not that the Ratchets would notice. They are non-believers and so don't celebrate the occasion.

At precisely eight p.m., Laskan time, there is a rap at the front door. The sound is nearly lost in the chiming of the cuckoo clock and the wail of the wind heard through the walls.

Certainly Henry hears nothing. He is oblivious to everything but the video playing on his laptop and the strange ache in the pit of his stomach that he thinks is love.

Alice is listening for only one sound -- the sound of her sister's approaching footsteps -- as she explores Anna's toiletries.

But Betty Ratchet, who can pick out the whimper of a baby at a rock concert, hears the knock.

Just then she is distracted, so she calls, as mothers everywhere are wont to do: "Will someone please answer that door?!"

Anna, who is nearest, looks up from her homework. "I'll get it!"

She opens the door. A cloaked figure greets her, the face lost in the shadows of the hood.

"Hello," says the stranger through teeth that chatter from the cold. "I'm lost...and chilled through and through...and very hungry. I wonder if I could come in and warm myself for just a moment."

After her initial surprise, Anna remembers her manners. "Of course. Come in."

"Thank you."

As the stranger steps into the entry, the cloak falls open, revealing what is beneath...or rather, what isn't.

Anna's eyes are as big as saucers and her mouth hangs open.

The stranger jerks the cloak back into place. "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen anyone in their birthday suit before?"

"Not in this weather. No wonder you're so cold."

"Well I was on my way to a bathing party..." Having thus explained, the stranger glances around. "Nice maison. Are you the only one home?"

Just at that moment, Betty calls. "Who is it, dear?"

"It's a stranger in their birthday suit!"


Betty comes around the corner. "Excuse me. Can we help you?"

"Just with a moment's shelter from the storm. And perhaps I could use your phone? I believe that my life may be in grave danger."

"Your life will be in grave danger if you are flashing my children."


Betty hands over America before turning to confront the stranger.

"My daughter says you're wearing nothing but your birthday suit. Isn't that what you said, Anna?"

"Under the cloak, Mom."

"Oh! You mean this??"

"A bathing suit?!"

"My birthday suit. I was born wearing it. I'm not ashamed to be seen this way. It's how the Great Manufacturer made me."

"But why are you wearing it on a day like this...oh, I get it! You're one of those Barbie groupies. You're going to a Barbie-look-alike contest."

"Me? No, I am Barbie. Barbara, really, but no one calls me that."

"Ha! Then what are you doing here?"

"Seeking help! I think someone is trying to do me harm. Oh, please, can you help me?"

To be continued...