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Black American Creative Nonfiction


I received my first Barbie when I caught Chicken Pox from my cousin Lisa at age five. She was two, my shadow, and obsessed with being in my room. Since we were quarantined, Mom rewarded me with a doll in a box. You must understand that the spoiled little diva I was didn't appreciate the gem I had been given until I was an adult and no longer played with dolls. All I wanted was to have my room and things to myself. An only child should not be expected to share. Frustrated by the intrusion, I took it out on the doll; I bit a hole in Barbie's left ankle.

When I was about twenty, my roommates, our boyfriends, and I adopted a family for Christmas. They moved upstairs from us into the other three-bedroom unit. A mother, her son, and her three daughters lost their home after the father died from surgical complications. We bought three outfits per person, household supplies, food, and toys.

The mother was gifted six months' rent paid but wasn't told until she went to ask for an extension on the grace period to pay the second half of the deposit.

The older girls were humble and didn't ask for anything. The older sisters were only eleven months apart, and they helped out with the cooking, cleaning, and the younger children. All teenage girls love shoes, their own spending money, makeup, and perfume, so they receive ten different gift certificates and cards.

The son wished for a Nintendo and games galore. So, we depended on our boyfriends to know the names of the latest and greatest games for a ten-year-old boy. You know a twenty-something male is still ten inside. They chose Madden football, baseball, and basketball.

The youngest daughter wanted dolls and to see her two friends, Molly and Callie, from the old neighborhood. So, with permission from both moms, we organized a sleepover and gifted all three little girls with a Barbie sleeping bag, a nightgown, and a three-foot-tall doll that walked when you held their hand. (Well, clumsily.) It was nice to see her smile. The playdate was on the 21st, the twin's birthday. Three eight-year-old girls were hyped to see their friends and munching on popcorn, soda, pizza, and cake. Thank the Lord, everyone was plum-tuckered out by ten because I was five minutes from dropping myself.

After seeing the littlest daughter's eyes light up over the twin's Barbie dolls, I knew I had to put a few under her tree. During our ride home on the 22nd, I discovered she loved astronomy and wanted to be an astronaut or a technical advisor on a movie about space exploration. That evening after another nap, I set out to find at least four Barbie dolls. I wanted the teacher Barbie, a career Barbie, an African American Barbie, and one like the one I chewed on as a stupid kid.

My first stop was the big K store, they had some, but I wasn't impressed; it was worse than Black Friday and December 26th rolled up together; boxes opened and discarded as if someone had stolen the precious content. I quickly left their Toyland. Their children's clothing department had an excellent selection of Barbie attire. I scooped up two cute dresses, a jogging suit, a backpack, a lunch box, an umbrella, and other rain gear. I smirked as the cashier rang up my loot. I had fun thinking about seeing those children light up on Christmas, but I knew I still needed to achieve my goal.

As I navigated Christmas traffic at the red light, a commercial aired, reminding people that Christmas is only one day, so don't forget that the bills will continue to arrive on time and must be paid accordingly. Thank God that I was not a parent then.

So, on to the big W store. I refused to lose my joy, so I parked about a half mile away from the entrance of lawn and garden. Everyone else had the same idea, and the store was so busy. It seems hip to the pilfering problem of hot items because, like clothes and handbags, the holiday Barbie dolls have antitheft tags. Now I am determined to find a unique Barbie as special as the little girl I want to give it to.

(tick tock tick tock tick)

Two of the four Barbies in hand, some jewelry, hats, gloves, stocking stuffers, a fishing reel, and a tackle box, just to be slowed down in a nonmoving checkout line.

(humming Jingle Bells and checking things off the list)

Have you ever felt all eyes on you? I was an Elf in a sea of Grinches. I slowly began singing out loud and got the child in the basket in front of me to join in, and eventually, we became a caroling flash mob. Folks realized the other options wouldn't speed up anyone's exit.

Finally.…out of Wally World.

The only other toy store in a fifty-mile radius is Geoffrey's house…. Please, Lord, all I need now is just three Barbies. I want three more, the correct Astronaut Barbie and two of the first ones I had.

That Barbara Millicent Roberts "Barbie" doll has haunted me my whole adult life. I now think that she was a limited edition. She wore a cameo on a black velvet choker collar. Her crisp white linen blouse died slowly in a high-waistline vintage pink full-length cotton skirt.

I never found another Barbie like that one. I have scoured every toy store for years, and I can't find evidence that it existed. Was my fever so high that I imagined owning the one thing I saw on TV? Today she would be priceless!

That's life…

The hardest learned lessons will sneak up and smack you in the back of your head. WOW…how much did that bite I took out of Barbie's ankle cost? That doll no longer exists; the house I grew up in was demolished years ago.


July 23, 2023 05:52

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2 comments

Mary Bendickson
16:04 Jul 23, 2023

Wow, what a Santa you were to those children. Taught them the true meaning of Christmas. Giving to others. As Christ gave to us. Blessings to you. May you find that mystical Barbie doll.

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Kimberly Walker
17:30 Jul 23, 2023

Thanks I would love to find it. I have a granddaughter now!

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