I knew it was wrong when I was doing it — it felt wrong. I was 11 years old. Ok, I was 12 and I was hiding a big secret from my school friends and my family. I kept that secret in a brown paper bag disguised as a school lunch. It wasn’t a dark Judy Blume-like secret. That would have been awesome. My secret was a pretty embarrassing one.
And when I say “pretty,” I’m talking Superstar-Barbie pretty — and therein lies my secret.
I was a 12-year-old girl, still obsessed with my Barbie and Ken dolls. Not to mention the Dream Townhouse and Barbie Airplane. I loved them all.
It was the ‘80s — kids respected smoking cigarettes in the bathroom back then, and I knew my Barbie obsession was the equivalent of middle school social suicide.
Knowing all that, I still couldn’t break-up with Barbie and Ken. They were perfect.
Who wouldn’t want to be beautiful, blonde tall and skinny? The short curly girl brunette in me loved hanging around in my Malibu house even if it was just pretend.
Maybe I was waiting for my own Super-Star Barbie moment. But it was seventh grade. If I wasn’t ready yet, at least Barbie and Ken were.
I was savvy and kept my obsession hidden from everyone except my best friend Julie, who went to a different school than I did. Which is where the paper bag came into play: If we had a sleepover planned for a Friday night, I’d have to take my Barbie dolls to school that day. So I’d hide them in a paper bag stapled for extra security. And I always had a lie on hand to explain the contents of the bag: “Oh that’s just my disgusting lunch,” or “It’s my grandmother’s knitting needles,” or “Who’s bag is that?” I liked to switch it up.
So sure enough on one Friday night, I headed to Julie’s house with the Barbie-bag hidden at the bottom of my overnight bag. I’d stashed it underneath my Guess jeans and a bedazzled sweat shirt that I designed myself, thank you. After watching Valley Girl for our 10th time and drooling over some guy named Nicolas Cage, we went upstairs and locked the doors. Julie said, “Did you bring it?” And proudly, like I’d just saved a kitten from a burning fire, I produced my Superstar Barbie.
Our elaborate storylines began and we were absorbed in a blissful Barbie world. Until Julie LOST the Superstar diamond ring Barbie wore on her finger. The thing that makes Superstar Barbie “super!”
I tried to hide my devastation. And my tears. My quivering lip might have given me away. Needless to say the Barbie game came to a screeching halt. Back in the bag Barbie went.
I’m not sure if it was the hole in Barbie’s hand where the ring had been or something else but that was when Superstar Barbie seemed to lose her luster. She was no longer perfect. Maybe that was ok. It was time to create my own Superstar Barbie moments. Sure I would take some tumbles. Unlike Barbie and Ken, I had to face some broken hearts, broken friendships and some really bad hair decisions. I realized in life, perfect is not always best.
Supestar Barbie remained in the stapled paper bag for a long time. In fact, I’m sure she’s still somewhere in my parent’s house in New Jersey today. But years later, I did eventually find the ring. This time it was on my hand.