With apologies to Aqua.

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She would collect name tags and uniforms like a poacher collects tusks. She was many things. She was a ballerina and a lawyer and a flight attendant and a pilot. When we first met, she was a model by trade. It was an occupation viewed by many as unskilled, but I found beauty in its simplicity. Her profession did not define her.

“Hiya, Barbie,” I said.

“Hi, Ken,” she replied.

There is a hollow empty fear a man can have when he sees an old friend. A fear of not knowing the conversation’s direction. A fear of being rudderless. I was singular in my focus for the night. One last glam adventure before I re-enlisted.

“You wanna go for a ride?”

The blonde was once the life of the party. She was out of practice. She lived in a Malibu Dream House but was a prisoner of her own device.

“Sure, Ken.”

When you are trying to catch mahi, you use a pole. When you are trying to catch tuna, you use bait. When you are trying to catch a marlin, you use a spear.

“Jump in.”

The car was a dune buggy. A gift from my father before he died. We sat in silence as I drove along the coast.

Barbie spoke first.

“I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie World,” she said.

She had lived three lifetimes in her short stint on Earth. Moving between hobbies like a lion weaves between tall grass, always on the hunt for a new pursuit. Every mountain she encountered Barbie conquered. She was equally skilled at figure skating and scuba diving. I wondered aloud where life had brought her.

“This life in plastic?” She paused. “It’s fantastic.” Barbie once commanded the stage with The Rockers. Now, the last thing she wanted to do was talk.

“I’m a blonde bimbo girl in a fantasy world.” The word “bimbo” cut bone. She did not believe it.

“Dress me up, make it tight, I’m your dolly.”

She wasn’t drunk. When you have a wooden leg, you can tell. She deflected the question until she regained control.

“You can brush my hair…” she rambled.

Every moment of unpleasantness was a minute wasted. I changed course.

“You’re my doll,” I said, fumbling my words. “Rock and roll, feel the glamor in pink. Kiss me here, touch me there, hanky-panky.”

Every word I spoke moved the night closer to a conclusion.

“C’mon, Barbie, let’s go party.” It was both a statement and a question.

I doubled down on my request, “C’mon Barbie, let’s go party.” Her indifference was obvious.

“C’mon Barbie,” I said again. “Let’s go party.”

We approached a red light. By best guess, it had been hours since the intersection had seen another car, but the law of the jungle can not be ignored. Neither can California Motor Vehicle regulations. I made use of the brief pause to plead one more time.

“C’mon Barbie. Let’s go party.” I repeated the phrase with increased determination as if it were my own personal Rifleman’s Creed.

Again she said nothing except for a plaintive “oooh wah” and “ahh yeah.” She was as stubborn as the white rhino. I took a different approach. I asked what her dream night might look like, the only limit her imagination.

“Imagination?” She smiled. “Life is your creation.”

I decided then that I would not tell her of my plans for deployment the next day. My shoulders became lighter. Whether foxhole or duck blind, the most memorable moments come from the peacefulness of nothing. Barbie, in her wisdom, had known that the entire time. We drove for hours without saying more than a smile.

“Oh, Ken, I’m having so much fun.”

The echo of sunrise breached the horizon.

“Barbie, we’re just getting started.”