Well, yes, of course you have. T’is the season, after all.
In the first place, they aren’t just “stores” or “shops” or even “shoppes” anymore. Gone is dear Giapetto, the maker of toys by hand. Gone is also the appreciation of toys made by hand. What we have now are behemoth toy warehouses, taking up enough arable land to feed the entire country of China…twice, and pushing enough plastic to give every female in Los Angeles the boob size of her choice.
Inside, you will feel as insignificant as Stuart Little in the Grand Canyon. There are hundreds of aisles, with shelves running from floor to ceiling…and the ceilings are 40 feet high.
These stores have their own weather systems.
I happened to stop into one of these places a few days ago . . . EVERY TOY IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE, I think it was called. At any rate, I had finished all my Christmas shopping, with the exception of Amanda, my niece, and she had mentioned a Barbie doll, so ETITKU seemed like the place to go.
I stopped the first employee I could find with the fewest body piercings and nihilist tattoos, and asked to be directed to the Barbie dolls.
“Aisles three, four, and five,” he muttered disgustedly. Apparently I had roused him from his coma and he didn’t appreciate it.
“Three aisles for Barbie dolls?” I mused. I took that to mean that they had their entire stock on the shelves, so I wasn’t worried about finding exactly what I wanted. I set out, ebulliently, with a spring in my step, for aisles three, four, and five.
After walking for one hour, stopping once to use the restroom (conveniently located every half-mile), and once to buy water, I arrived at my destination and began browsing.
I want to tell you that I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of Barbie dolls. It was inconceivable to me that there could be thousands of variations on a single theme (well, no, I take that back—Bach did just fine with it).
The first thing I did was to pull out my cell phone and call my husband to tell him not to expect me for dinner…this week. Then I continued my quest.
Initially, there were the types of Barbies you’d expect to find: Beach Barbie, Cheerleader Barbie, Tennis Barbie, Golf Barbie, Rock Concert Barbie…well, you get the idea.
Then there were the “Career” Barbies. These included Doctor Barbie, Dentist Barbie, Psychoanalyst Barbie, Lawyer Barbie (I didn’t like that one at all!), Detective Barbie, Wall Street Barbie, and Super-Bitch Corporate Executive Vice President Barbie. That last one came with a “corporate spy” briefcase (which included a tiny videocam), a cigar that shoots poison-tipped darts, an empty gin bottle, and a full ashtray.
Next there were the “Politically Correct” Barbies. There were African-American Barbies, Asian-American Barbies, Native American Barbies, Semitic-American Barbies, and an Australian-American Barbie with a dwarf husband called “Shrimp on the Barbie.”
Head reeling, I stumbled next upon the “Outmoded Values” Barbies. These were all covered with the dust of the ages, and a small sign read that if I found any dinosaur bones while browsing here, I could keep them. Amongst these Barbies, I found: Homemaker Barbie, PTA Barbie, Stay-at-Home Mother Barbie, Carpool Barbie, Seamstress Barbie, Dinner Party Barbie, and Reading to the Kids Barbie. There was only one of each, obviously untouched for many years.
After that, it really got strange.
I moved into aisle five. It was completely stocked with “New Millennium” Barbies, reflecting the current ideology that young children should be exposed to absolutely everything. There was Dominatrix Barbie (only one left—more on the way!), Drunk Biker Chick Barbie (complete with tattoos, a Harley, and a boyfriend called Slash who was just released from prison), Death During Childbirth Barbie (I don’t even want to think about what that one comes with), Arsonist Barbie (with a whole box of lovely matches that really light! Wow!), Serial Killer Barbie (with knives, rope, and a bottle of real poison. An accessory, sold separately, is a policeman looking confused), Vampire Barbie (with a pink Bloodmobile), Bar-Hopping Barbie (with Rohypnol antidote), Hooker Barbie (with condoms, penicillin, and Pimp Ken), Drug Dealer Barbie (with marijuana seeds and potting soil), and finally, Transsexual Barbie (anatomically incorrect, with a copy of The Rene Richards Story).
There was even a Klaus Barbie…
That did it.
I raced back to aisle four, grabbed the Homemaker Barbie and her complete wardrobe of Donna Reed originals, pearl necklace, rubber gloves and Easy-Off, and bursting though the cloud of dust, threw a handful of money at the cashier and ran out the door!
Amanda had better like this Barbie doll.
There is no way in hell I’m ever going back there to return it.