Every now and again, life catches me off-guard. It’s times like these I need to turn to contributions from you, the audience. If you’ve ever read the Opinions section of the local newspaper, or the comments of an article on the Huffington Post, you know that sometimes the readers contribute just as much as the established writers. Thus, I present to you the Crank File.

Today’s Crank File entry comes to us courtesy of Monica A. Flink. Enjoy!

The month of December for me is normally a flurry of gift purchasing and creating profanities that make the ears of Baby Jesus and anyone else in a five mile radius bleed to describe the bitch that just took my parking space. But while I am busy roasting some jerk’s chestnuts over an open fire when he got the last Xbox 360 complete with Fable III, I find myself thinking of previous Christmases, previous years not spent quite so upset and stressed out, when the only problem on my to do list was being good for twenty four consecutive days.

Bet you wished you hadn’t cut me off now, numb nuts.

Aside from brief stints of nearly burning down the house by using a friend’s hair, I was generally a good kid, and as such got exactly what I wanted for Christmas. And what did every red-blooded, American, white, upper-middle-class child want for Christmas? Barbie, of course. I had all kinds of these dolls, from the ones with glow-in-the-dark dresses to the one year that I had obviously sacrificed a goat to the right deity because I was presented with the Happy Holidays Barbie, completely resplendent in her green velvet gown and perfect platinum curls.

Barbie was my best friend for many years, especially years when I had no friends at all. Not because I was smelly or disfigured, but because there were no girls in the neighborhood my age and I was a pretty damn weird kid. But she was the best. She never got mad at me for liking the same boys she did, who would turn out to be gay as adults anyway. She always wanted to play what I wanted to play. Most importantly, Barbie made me bisexual.

It’s the cast of The L Word, with less drama.

When most groups protest Barbie, especially the ones made in the 80’s, the main argument is that Barbie projects an unreachable stereotype. That no girl can be that beautiful, that thin, that boob-tastic, that plastic perfect. And that showing girls that pillar of consummate femininity was going to make them stressed out, anorexic basket cases who were always going to strive for perfection and look down upon those who did not reach that standard. Yet nobody protests airbrushing…

I never really had that problem, mostly because I had no hopes of ever looking like Barbie. Dumpy redheads who had never gotten Midge doll rarely thought of themselves as Barbie wanna-bes. Besides, I was my own woman, and I told Barbie so while we were busy training to be fighter pilots on Mars, or singing opera for the masses in Sydney.

If anyone had known how I was playing with my Barbies, I’m pretty certain that they would have started protesting for that reason too. Normally, Barbie and I had male dates. She liked GI Joe, and I liked He-Man, which was perfect because Barbie was into guys who were so manly that they sweated testosterone and bullets, while I was into men who were slightly homoerotic and imaginary. We went out on dates together, went to parties, even got married so Barbie and Joe could express their physical love before Joe went back to the front lines (or the kid from up the street discovered that I had stolen his GI Joe again).

But sometimes, Barbie and I just wanted to hang out together. Which is fine, all girls like to hang out with their girlfriends. I probably played with Barbies longer than other girls, but that’s okay in my opinion because my story lines, and believe me, my epic Barbie sessions held in the unused back office of my parent’s basement on brown shag carpeting had story lines, matured even when the medium did not.

It was one of these days, when GI Joe had gone back to war, and He-Man had gone off to fight magical evil somewhere else, that Barbie, her pal Barbie and I were sitting around together, talking about what we were going to wear to Barbie’s wedding. Barbie, being the naïve virgin that she was, let the conversation segue into kissing, and how she thought she was doing it wrong. Her friend Barbie was a woman of the world, as I was I at the ripe old age of ten, and we told her that she had to practice if she was going to give Joe the kiss of his life when he returned home.

Barbie even offered to show Barbie how it was done. The air was fraught with sexual tension as they stared into eachother’s blue eyes, mouths split apart in matching hot pink grins, before they leaned forward and pressed their mouths together to practice. In that moment, I realized that it was not odd looking to see two women kissing. But these were thoughts I kept to myself. I only vaguely realized that it had something to do with being called “gay” and that was something I avoided at all costs, having an older, wiser, more malicious sister in the house with me who would say anything to get me to leave her alone.

We’ll get there soon enough Barbie, soon enough.

I knew that I still liked boys, or I would have never tried to kiss the dreamy Jonathan on the playground nearly every day. Something about Barbie and Barbie sharing a sweet, gentle kiss, maybe with a little light petting, seemed okay to me though. It would be nearly ten years later before I realized that I was open to playing for both teams. Yet who knew in the years in between, when I would see a beautiful woman and wonder what her body looked like, or found myself wanting to be close to a lady who was particularly charming, that it had come from those afternoons in the basement, exploring with Barbie.

As I look back on my childhood during the holidays, I remember Barbie teaching me a lot of things. She taught me that it was okay to live in shithole artist apartments in my early twenties because she had never had more than a shoebox home in the basement. She taught me that I could be anything I wanted, from a spokesmodel to a rocket scientist (it was obvious Barbie never saw my grades in math). She taught me that I wanted to create stories and share them with the world, because being princesses from the planet Cromrock was too awesome to not share. But above all, Barbie taught me that it was okay to be bisexual, and that she was one of the most precious gifts I had ever been given.

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