Shoes. The reason I fell in love with the world of Barbie was due to her wardrobe of tiny high-heeled shoes that came in a variety of colors. I'd receive the doll in its hot pink box, open it, and proceed to rid the blonde lady from the zapatos on her pointed dainty feet. I'd line them up on a table by color, marveling at the multitude of plastic shoes. Sticking my fingers in the little holes, I'd walk them around, modeling. Barbie didn't need them, I did. Oh, I'd play with my Barbie doll, but mostly, I'd lay out coordinating outfits to go with the shoes, excited by my expertise.
My grandfather built me this doll mansion - a three-story house with a kitchen, living room and bedroom. Each had its own wallpaper and carpet. Most of the time, while playing with the clothes, I'd arrange the Barbies to sit in various parts of the house, awaiting their chance to model my ensembles.
Eventually, I learned to play house, doctor or whatever with the dolls, as playmates insisted upon it. My sister enjoyed breaking doll's legs or wrapping them up so that they must lay in triage at our Barbie hospital. My cousin liked setting up the dolls on dates, going to the drive-thru and out dancing. We'd even let them kiss in the window, leaving them by themselves for five minutes of alone time. Besides shoe-ing, I dabbled in hair dressing. One Christmas, I received a hair salon. After brushing and detangling their long hair, I grew tired of "playing." So I "borrowed" some adult scissors and preceded to give a few of my dolls a freshen-up. Always a mistake, but it seemed like a good idea at first. For some reason, I always thought short bobs with bangs would work. Barbie looked so sad with her shorn hair, blunt with short spikes in front that stuck straight up.
When the three of us would get together, our Barbie event planning became grandiose. Oh, they would take the pink mini-van up into the mountains, behind the television set. Meander to the orphanage where our many Kelly dolls and friends stayed (adopting all of them in the process.) And maybe, just maybe, we'd hold a wedding to remember.
This usually happened when we introduced a new Ken doll to the mix. (Ken's were not as fun to play with, but essential, so each of us had one or two in our collections.)
I had just received a surfing Ken doll, complete with gold mesh shirt and neon green board shorts. My cousin received a Disney Pocahontas Barbie doll. And she was beautiful. Her skin was a milky brown, and that hair. It was black, silky and seemed to dance in the wind. It was settled. These two were gonna get hitched.
My mom had just bought a new treadmill and was placed perfectly in our basement - which doubled as our playroom. We knew what to do. After dressing up the dolls in bridal couture, lining up their various friends along the exercise machine, we placed Ken and Pocahontas at the top, ready for their debut as a couple. We turned the radio to Lite 104.1, knowing the soft hits would add to the atmosphere and dimmed the lights (turned them off, more like it.) That was our downfall. We turned the treadmill on, unfortunately, to full blast. The poor bride and groom that had been seated at the edge were now throttling at full speed to the base. Ken was lucky, he flew into the wall. Pocahontas, not so much. That beautiful silky mane of hair became entangled with the treadmill floor and quickly became wrapped in the machine. Her head became detached from body, as the machine started to sound funny and quickly slowed at its own accord. The weird mangled sounds attracted the attention of Mom, and by the time we shut off the machine, she was in the room, bewildered.
"What are you doing?"
"Nothing," we replied.
My cousin's doll was in ruins after only playing with her once. So tragic. Ken was without his mate and the treadmill never worked the same again. It wasn't until a few years ago that my sister and I 'fessed up to the disaster.
Did that stop our doll escapades? No. But I continued to play it safe by making lining up Barbie shoes my number one priority.