One of my friends recently posed the question, “Is it okay for little boys to play with Barbies?”
I answered, “Well, my brother always played with me. It sure didn’t hurt him.” Of course, my brother technically played with GI Joes, and they were pretty badass. And of course, my Barbies rarely ever wore pink, either.
First of all, my Barbies had a baja jeep.
dinky little pink plastic seatbelts. Off-Roading across cattle trails called for more suspension than that, so I fashioned my own belts out of rubber bands and paperclips. I hooked a string to the front axle so that I could pull it through the pasture instead of pushing it. It was blue and pink, but eventually most of the pink faded and/or was covered with dirt so it wasn’t quite so ‘girly’. It started out with stickers, but those wore out fast. I inherited my dad’s ability to pack things, so even though the ‘trunk’ was nonexistent, I could still strap quite
a bit of spelunking gear in the back of that thing. It was most definitely 4WD, the only way it got stuck was if you high-centered it.
My dad cleaned out and patched up an old horse tank for us kids to play in. We weren’t allowed to do cannonballs or attempt to dive in, obviously, but because it was really shallow, you could splash as much as you wanted. Between the two of us, we tossed our dolls in and flopped around, swung our arms around and made some serious WOOSHING sounds. That rusty old horse tank was instantly transformed into the most treacherous ocean, filled with tsunamis, whirlpools of death, horrendous hurricanes and deep-sea earthquakes. Pirates of the Caribbean ain’t got nothin’ on those adventures.
My brother’s GI Joes were like modern-day Lewis and Clarks. My Barbie tagged along as their Sacagawea. The washouts in the hills behind the house made for endless amounts of territory to
cover. Our Louisiana Purchase extended from the junkyard two hills up north of the house, to the windmill in the front meadow, no further than the cattle guard at the west end of the oil strip, and somewhere in the middle of the feed-ground east of the barn. A small tree line ran next to the oil strip, and it made an excellent place to scale trees, build forts and nestle in the underbrush in hopes of seeing a deer. Our pioneers abandoned the jeep in favor of a covered wagon we’d built from a John Deer tractor trailer and dishrag, pulled by a rubberband harness and our two prized plastic horses. I know I have a picture of that contraption somewhere, but I think I thought I was an Indian child back then, and I’m pretty sure I’m not wearing any pants.
In spite of all of our adventures, I think we only had one fatality. One of our Joes miscalculated a high dive and cracked his head on the side of the tank. We searched and searched, but we never found his body. On that note, I’ll ask my readers to take a moment and remember honor all of our MIA’s, POW’s and soldiers that have come home in a box.
So yes, my brother “played with Barbies”. But even when we were stuck indoors, we drug out all of my little accessories and completely redesigned the floor of my room in a feat of minuscule architecture. I’d have to make this cute little ballet move on my tiptoes to get from my door to my bed, because I’d leave our masterpiece up for days at a time. I feel sorry for kids that don’t get to use their imaginations anymore. They’re addicted to their Nintendo DS and their IPhones or Blackberries. Kids spend their time on Facebook and YouTube instead of playing outside and creating from scratch. As a result, I think my brother and I are very artistic. I love to write, he plays music. My second youngest brother can draw like nobody’s business. The youngest one can build boats out of Dominos. Using my imagination was an important part of my childhood, and I’m a firm believer in holding tight to your inner child.
Peace out, Scouts. Go play outside.