Bio Note: “Bad Times Barbie” is the first in a series of prose poems I wrote in the early 2000’s marking the travails of the plastic one as she moved into middle age and beyond. Perhaps I will see how she is doing during the pandemic. My most recent book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems.
Bad Times Barbie
Things hadn’t been really good for Barbie and Ken for a long time, but Barbie had managed to keep up appearances, her chin up, her upper lip stiff. First, there was the affair with Midge while Barbie was having her boobs re-done. Then Ken began showing more than a brotherly interest in Skipper. He spent a lot of time at the track and in Vegas, always dropping a bundle. He blamed all his little problems on drinking and his drinking he blamed on Barbie. Still, Ken was financially successful, so Barbie took him back time and time again. Then crash! The savings and loan scam! Ken was a player. What with the legal fees and the time behind bars, the camper had to go, then the Vette, and finally the place in Malibu. Barbie hated the way the jailhouse coveralls brought out the yellow in Ken’s complexion, so she started seeing G.I. Joe. Joe had been hot for Barbie since high school, but being from the wrong side of the tracks and clearly not going anywhere, hadn’t stood a chance. Joe figured he had Barbie over a barrel, so he moved her and what was left of her accessories down to Orange County near his work at El Toro. But, with the talk of base closings, the stress was too much for him. He went on a bender and flashed back to Nam. He roughed Barbie up, pulling out hair, denting a breast. Meanwhile, Ken gets out of prison and joins the men’s movement. He goes looking for a father with his new accessories: poems and a set of drums. Now, Barbie hangs out at the Orange County Swap Meet, selling off the rest of her stuff along with the puffy-paint t-shirts she’s learned how to make. In bad time, Barbie figures, to be flexible is best.
Originally published in Traveler in Paradise: New & Selected Poems PEARL Editions
©2021 Donna Hilbert
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