Townhouse Barbie. That's what I think of when I think about sleepovers. I remember that at age seven, my bestest friend in the whole wide world was Joanne. She had all the pink plastic everything, the result of being the youngest and only girl child of a large Catholic family in 1970s Pacific Northwest.
Joanne had Barbies galore and Skippers and Kens and all their many friends. She had Barbie's Townhouse, the rocketship, the sweet convertible, and two hot tubs. There were far too many plastic, bendy friends for a single hot tub. Barbie doesn't slum. At least Joanne's Barbies didn't. Her Barbies were strictly indoors, high class and well-tended. She brushed their hair with tiny pink brushes. They went to the salon with their girlfriends and their leashed Barbie pups.
Joanne's Barbies didn't know mine. Hers were uptown and manicured, and mine? Mine look like they lived on the wrong side of the tracks. I took my Barbies outside, and we lived on a little farm. My Barbies had dirty legs and ratted hair, and sometimes their arms or legs were dog-chewed. When I was unable to brush the hair tangles free on my Barbies, I simply cut the synthetic hair. And I was a ruthless barber. Nevertheless, my mom was supportive of my early cosmetology efforts, referring to my Barbies as modern women who sported Dorothy Hamill haircuts. They were feminist Barbies and used the title Ms. They didn't belong to Ken or to any of the other men dolls. Not even GI Joe.
Tomboy Barbies are well-traveled and tough. They went outside and splashed in mud puddles. They went swimming in bathtubs, went with us to the lake house, and didn't mind at all being naked. One winter's night, my younger sisters and I sat by a roaring fire. We'd already had dinner and a bath, and were in those golden minutes of pre-bed freedom. We sat, the three of us, in our flower nightgowns, warming our still bath damp bodies by the fireplace. And somehow I thought my Barbie needed to be dry and warm too. And then I thought she might get a suntan if she were closer to the flames. It was a glorious thought, until she started to melt.
When I think of sleepovers, still to this day, I think of Barbies, Joanne with her dark, thick, braided hair, and Joanne's super cute--Oh my God, so super cute!--older brothers, the real reason I always wanted to stay at her place. Yes, I was only seven-years-old, but they were older. Middle and high school! I would die each time one of them walked by. And I think I left my body the one and only time I saw her oldest brother in his boxer shorts. Seriously, the body I'm in now is probably reincarnated from that brief experience. Blue sailboats. I remember there were blue sailboats.