Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gerbils Vs. Barbie Doll Townhouse

Yep, I'm anti-Xmas. I can't say it was one specific incident that led me to throw in the itchy polyester Santa hat. It may be part of my decline into a bitchy, solitary middle-age. Bill O'Reilly's freak out a while back might have been the last nail in the red and white coffin but the first one was ages ago.

While growing up in rural Nevada, my Dad used to shell out pretty big for my presents. It was the one time of year my Mom would pop a fuse if he failed to spend at least a hundred bucks on me. The rest of the time, he conveniently (and thriftily) forgot he had a third child living with the ex-wife far from the balmy golf courses of California.

When I was 10, the big present I bleated for was a Barbie Doll Townhouse. Not that I actually owned any Barbies. (My staunch feminist leanings were beginning to show). I just wanted a place for Johnny West and family to live and a split-level would be ideal so they could park the plastic ponies downstairs.

When I opened my present, I was a little disappointed in the Townhouse. It was two panels of cardboard printed on one side with some plastic yellow pillars to hold up the other floors.

Johnny West and his pardn'rs weighed more than the whole thing. When I tried to seat Johnny in one of the upper floors, the cardboard sagged perilously.

One day, bored with the whole plastic horse/plastic cowboy collection, I left them strewn in my room. I also had my gerbil family out running free range across the Linoleum. I shut the door of my room and went outside to play in the Siberian-like weather.

When I came back a few hours later, I was shocked to find the house completely collapsed. One yellow pillar was under my bed, and suspiciously, an entire section of printed cardboard had been dragged over to the entrance of the gerbil's cage. My Barbie Doll Townhouse had been reduced to a massive pile of carefully shredded bedding by the industrious gerbils.

Sulking and whining, I kicked the gerbil family rudely out of their fine pile of cardboard and took it out to my Mom where she laughed her ass off. She called the relatives and they all had a good laugh too.

I sulked on the couch and threatened to let our tabby cat, Freddy, have his way with my indolent pet rodents.

I'm not sure if there's anything in this besides some gerbil bedding ... but I don't know that I benefited from being brought up to believe -- like every other kid in America -- that Xmas was just about getting stuff. Just stuff. Usually plastic, guaranteed to break or end up in the back of the closet due to dis-interest.

There are only two presents guaranteed to enthrall children for more than five minutes. A shiny set of keys if they are under three and bedtime story books until they are 12.

If I had kids, I'd stay far from the malls and farther from Toys-R-Us. Forget the lead paint scare. Teach them to play without all the plastic.


Sarina said...

I actually got a Barbie townhouse one Christmas. But I didn't ask for it. It was a hand me down from my babysitter's older sister (so think late 70s). This was a grand two story plastic house of Threes Company confection. It matched my parents very vibrant (and still, to this day, kicking) 70s theme home.

Now what I asked for was the hot pink, shiny Barbie corvette (which I also got) so the house was like... neat? I guess? My main issue was still, at age 7, that I had more Barbie's than Ken's and I wanted to even up the score because I didn't think it was right for Ken to have 4 ladyfriends. That actually makes me chuckle! Though your gerbil-feast cracked me the hell up :)

Anyway I did have some great time playing Barbie in the house, with Andrew too (lol). I did get more Ken dolls, or male dolls fashioned in the Ken doll manner as there were only so many Ken options and god forbid I have two of the same! Ah youth. Interesting how little personality quirks ring true- you with the feminism and me with the "every man must have ONE and only ONE mate" lol!!!!

Mz M. said...

Yeah and Ken wasn't ... you know ... anatomically ummm correct. Even at 9 I was like 'wtf'? Where's his peepee?