I understand that Barbie’s 50th birthday falls sometime this September. Barbie who? Well, Barbie Doll, of course. I’m not sure of her last name, it’s probably Mattel or Megabucks.

Somehow the whole Barbie thing escaped me. To begin with, I was old enough to be her baby sitter when she was born. And, she was born full-blown! She had a chest like a bureau with the top drawer pulled out. She didn’t need a sitter, she needed a keeper or a counselor — or both.

Then I was the mother of sons. I had no daughter, not even a granddaughter until about 19 years ago, by which time Beanie Babies were far more to be coveted than Barbie. Not even the lure of owning Barbie’s very own bedroom or beauty shop or convertible lured Laura from her collection of Beanies.

They gave Barbie a boy friend, then a best friend, and a little sister, not to mention a wardrobe which would have been the envy of any fashion model. But, for Laura it was Beanie Babies.

Then she got too old for either.

I was too old for Barbie, but I yearned for a “Betsy Wetsy” doll. One year Betsy was second prize at Mr. Webster’s Rexall Drug Store Christmas competition. Customers voted for the registered child of choice — boy or girl — based on the money they spent during the pre-holiday affair. My brother was registered too — he wanted the electric train — so Mom and Dad had to split their votes.

Maybe it was my pigtails and freckles that made me distinctive. I was told I drew a lot of votes from folks without kids in the competition.

Anyway, when the votes were tallied on Christmas Eve, I won first prize — a huge baby doll, but not Betsy. I guess I was intrigued by the fact that you fed Betsy with a baby bottle of water and she watered your lap. I sure was disappointed.

In retrospect it is just as well. I got plenty of wet laps when I had babies of my own and I no longer cared that Betsy went on to wet someone else’s lap.

So, happy birthday, Barbie. I wonder if — at 50 — you are beginning to look for gray hair or maybe a cure for menopause!



Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to opinion@tribstar.com.

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