Every weekend morning, I’d sneak downstairs to play
with my sisters’ Barbie dolls. They had all
of them: Barbie, Ken, Allan, Midge, Skipper and
Skooter. They even had the little freckled boy,
Ricky (“Skipper’s Friend”), and Francie, “Barbie’s
’MOD’ern cousin.” Quietly, I’d set the dolls

in front of their wardrobe cases, take the dolls’
clothes off miniature plastic hangers, and play
until my father woke up. There were several Barbies—
blonde ponytail, black bubble, brunette flip—all
with the same pointed tits, which (odd for a boy)
didn’t interest me as much as the dresses and

accessories. I’d finger each glove and hat and
necklace and high heel, then put them on the dolls.
Then I’d invent elaborate stories. A “creative” boy,
I could entertain myself for hours. I liked to play
secretly like that, though I often got caught. All
my father’s tirades ("Boys don’t play with Barbies!

It isn’t normal!") faded as I slipped Barbie’s
perfect figure into her stunning ice blue and
sea green satin and tulle formal gown. All
her outfits had names like “Fab Fashion,” “Doll’s
Dream” and “Golden Evening”; Ken’s were called “Play
Ball!,” “Tennis Pro,” “Campus Hero” and “Fountain Boy,”

which came with two tiny sodas and spoons. Model boy
that he was, Ken hunted, fished, hit home runs. Barbie’s
world revolved around garden parties, dances, play
and movie dates. A girl with bracelets and scarves and
sunglasses and fur stoles…. “Boys don’t play with dolls!”
My parents were arguing in the living room. "All

boys do." As always, my mother defended me. “All
sissies!” snarled my father. “He’s a creative boy,”
my mother responded. I stuffed all the dresses and dolls
and shoes back into the black cases that said “Barbie’s
Wonderful World” in swirling pink letters and
clasped them shut. My sisters, awake now, wanted to play

with me. “I can’t play,” I said, “Dad’s upset.” All
day, he stayed upset. Finally, my mother came upstairs and said: “You’re a boy,
David. Forget about Barbies. Stop playing with dolls.”