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Dolls as Models - Part I 

Why are Barbie and Ken in 28 Days Across America, and what's up with an adult male playing with dolls?  I can answer the first question, but don't yet have an answer I'm comfortable with for the second…

The book is primarily a book of words - photographs or illustrations would play a supporting role.  Honestly, the text doesn't stand on its own, so the book needed pictures.

Printing a book on text paper is significantly less expensive than using photo-quality paper, so for the book to be reasonably priced, it needed to be text paper.  Photographs don't render very well on this type of paper - in this case, 60-pound cream-colored text paper, per the publisher - so something more in the line of an illustration seemed appropriate.

Every couple of years, my brother gives me a vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle toy as a Christmas present.  Playing with one, as I occasionally do, I was struck with the idea to pair a motorcycle model with a toy character - a caricature of the author - to illustrate scenes from the book.  Sounds simple, but as with most things I undertake, I grossly underestimate the complexity, effort and time involved.  This delays the publication of the book for three months, as if I needed another self-inflicted obstacle to completing the damned thing.

Toy motorcycle in hand, I'm off to Toys R Us in Salinas, California, to shop for my grand-daughter.  At least that's my story - I don't have a grand-daughter.  Grazing the action-hero aisle with other pre-schoolers, I'm not connecting with the characters.  Hulk Hogan, Ironman, Superman…they're not really me, and they're too small for my toy motorcycle, anyway.  Innocently, I wander into the Barbie aisle.  I'd rather be looking at Craftsman tools; there's a Sears across the mall.  Ok, now I know why Barbie generates more than a billion US dollars - not that US dollars are worth much now - a year for Mattel.  Yawn...

Suddenly my eyes get really big: it's the Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Barbie and Ken Giftset.  The box - there's no motorcycle inside - reads:  "The adventure begins.  Harley-Davidson takes Barbie and Ken on the ride of a lifetime.  The wide open road, rushing winds, brilliant sunsets: mile after mile, the legend rolls on."  Hey, that's my book!  Barbie and Ken are wearing biker gear; Ken even has a Harley-Davidson shirt.  How friggin' cool.  If only I didn't have to stand in line holding a Barbie doll at the cash register.  'Reminds me of buying tampons at the corner market at midnight.

Three of us line up to buy Barbies. I'm the only male, looking stern and disinterested, which hopefully dissuades any questions from my line mates.  'Mommy, why is that grown man buying a Barbie doll?'  I get home, mildly pleased with my purchase, though now I need to find a Barbie-scale motorcycle for Barbie and Ken to ride.  My problems are just beginning.

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Reader Comments (2)

I'm almost sure Barbie has progressed beyond her pink convertible to a Harley...no? I won't even tell you what I was doing with my Ken and Barbie back in the day. You would be surprised! Someday maybe I will blog about it...and then again...

BTW - this is hysterical...Rayner


November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori Brookes

It's ok to have both a convertible and a motorcycle. Might not be surprised, but I'm intrigued - publish your story - you're a talented artist, Lori. Maybe it's time for the dark underbelly of youthful obsessions - yours, anyway - to be exposed. Thanks for blogging.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterraynermarx

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