"Dead Hooker Barbie" Makes all the Difference

I’ve been with my boyfriend for going on three years. At the year-and-a-half mark, we flew out of state to spend the Christmas with his religious family. You know, the family that is always twittering, “When are you moving home?” in his ear. Our relationship, which he treasures, is but one of many reasons he gives him.

I’m not religious.

This was judgment time.

I was petrified.

His parents are divorced. I found the time at the mother’s house awkward and stressful, especially when undercurrents of parental abandonment broke through the carefully-maintained surface at dinner. The time at the father’s was less stressful, as the father’s second wife has a hell of a lot less invested in my boyfriend and, to be blunt, is a lot friendlier than the mother. The father is alexithymically neutral. The brother is a chronic partier and at the time was recovering from a bacterial inflammatory condition that can take a year or more to cure and that often leaves its victims chronically depressed and simply feeling like crap until it’s cured. The sister is married with, I think, 5 children living in a 3-bedroom row house. This, I found out, was where The Main Event (a.k.a. Christmas dinner) would be held.

The sister’s house was a madhouse.

Five kids, one an adult with her own kid, their two parents, the mother, the brother, and me. All crammed around this table that’s too big for the room it’s in, wedged between a staircase and the Christmas tree. These people are broke – Broke, broke, broke, and they put out a spread of food the likes of which I’ve never seen. I wasn’t even aware that a private individual could purchase a mutton that big.

After having gotten to know the family a little, I was was petrified for the future of their female children. I’ve seen too many females who were strictly raised and home-schooled in strict religious households who ended up ruining their lives with teenage childbirth, drug and alchohol issues, abusive marriages, and other dramatically bad choices because, once they were set free of their parents, once they had the power to make their own decisions, they had no idea what the world was about, what the repercussions of certain mistakes might be, and no idea how to function independently.

These thoughts were swirling around the back of my head during the Christmas visit, especially regarding my boyfriend’s middle neice. Approximately 14, she was confident, well-spoken, comfortable in her own skin, disgusted by our culture’s fixation on beauty and thinness (even though she’s remarkably thin naturally), and obviously intelligent. My heart was breaking for her, because, as far as my judgmental and paranoid mind could see things, this girl had no chance at all to be anything besides a hyper-religious breeder like her mother.

I just hope that’s what she wants, I thought.

At some point after the dinner, during social hour (when I was desperately wishing for booze), my boyfriend’s middle neice noticed her little sister showing my boyfriend and I her favorite Barbie. The little one became distracted and wandered off, leaving the Barbie on the table between my boyfriend and I. The middle neice appeared out of nowhere, stepped up between us, bent over at the waist, looked back and forth at each of us with a twinkle in her eyes and whispered to us, intentionally making sure that no one but my boyfriend and I could hear, “Look at this.”

She grabbed the Barbie, straightened her out flat with her arms at her sides, threw one arm up over her head, tipped her head to one side, splayed the legs just a little, and tossed her back on the table.

“It’s Dead Hooker Barbie!” she whispered, still with the glint. She giggled, looked around to make sure no one but us was paying attention, then scampered away.

(Anyone who’s ever seen a CSI-type television show, a true-crime documentary, or movie involving a discarded female body found in an alley, field, etc. should recognize the ” classic dead hooker pose” she set the Barbie in. It was instantly recognizable and a bit shocking because, even though I’m a fan of CSI-type and true-crime television, I hadn’t yet realized there was such a thing as the “classic dead hooker pose,” but there it was, staring me in the face.)

While my boyfriend and I tried to choke back our squeals of laughter and cover our mouths in the universal “Oh, my God!” motion, she shot us another twinkling glance from across the room and then sent her sister over to fetch the Barbie from us.

Well done! I thought.

Clearly this girl is already partially out from underneath her parent’s religious thumb, being exposed to things that would give her mother a heart attack. Clearly this girl has the same intelligent and dark sense of humor that my boyfriend and I share, the one that I am convinced has kept me sane during some seriously nasty things I’ve dealt with over the years. Clearly this girl is a good enough judge of people to be able to spot her own in a crowd, regardless of the face my boyfriend puts on to be sure that he gets along with his family.

“Dead Hooker Barbie” was the flag that told me that this particular girl will be okay, that she’ll make it, that she’ll be doing and accomplishing anything she sets her sights on in 10 years. If what she wants is to be a hyper-religious breeder, I’ll be okay with that, because that will be what she wants, not what someone else wants.

“Dead Hooker Barbie” makes all the difference.

~Riot.Jane

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About

Middle-aged, life-long Texan with a substantial chip on her shoulder.

Posted in feminism, Spirituality

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