What was the one thing my Barbie's wardrobe lacked??
| MATCHBOX UNDIES When I was a young girl during the 60's, ( let's clarify this, the 1960's!), my toy of choice was Barbie. I did not question her appearance or her multiple exciting careers. Why couldn't she be a nurse, a stewardess, a fashion designer, AND a glamorous model? With my imagination, I eagerly accompanied her on thrilling adventures. We snorkelled in tropical oceans. We schoosed, ( schussed?), down European mountains. We danced and schmoozed and partied with the rich and famous. Always, I remained her cheerleader, her confidante, and, most importantly, her wardrobe consultant/stylist/dresser extraordinaire. We were inseparable . We slept together, not necessarily attired in the same p.j.'s, ate together, ( like all good friends we shared similar tastes in food), biked together, ( on my bike, hers was a tad small), swam together, ( back then, I too wore a bikini), and camped together. We both attended sleepovers. At these events, Barbie clothing was swapped and borrowed. We both seemed to like to visit friends and their Barbies. Our philosophy was share everything. My Barbie was especially blessed with an extensive wardrobe, thanks to my two grandmothers. Receiving Barbie clothes from my maternal Nanny seemed natural. After all, she had a sewing business. She made my outfits. I'd watched her use a sewing machine. Try as she might, Nanny never was able to convince me to use her machine. I did not relish spearing my vulnerable fingers on the sharp and bobbing needle. The threading configuration was also beyond my understanding. Once the thread broke, I was lost. I didn't need to sew anyway, I had my Nanny for that. Nanny never liked to see a doll naked. She dressed them all. My paternal grandmother was different. She dressed like a man, lived alone in a cabin, and drove a taxi. I'd never seen her sew anything. Appearances can be deceiving. One Christmas, this grandparent surprised me with beautiful handmade Barbie outfits. Some of them were even knitted! Grandma B. had taken great care to fashion clothing for a doll that was maybe an inch in diameter. Barbie was impossibly tiny with long legs that stretched all the way to her armpits. She had no hips. Her limbs were stiff and rigid. Her head was covered in too much hair. Dressing her was difficult, it took patience and some skill. Arms and legs had to be bent at awkward angles or even removed sometimes. Off with her head applies to an uncooperative Barbie. Like the dismemberment, this was only temporary, but necessary. I was quite impressed that Grandma B. had taken the time and effort to create such small clothing. She'd painstakingly attached tiny buttons. There were buttonholes and hook and eye fasteners. Her attention to detail was amazing. She'd chosen a rainbow of colours and patterns. Every piece of clothing fit Barbie perfectly. I had no idea she was capable of this. When I thanked Grandma B. via telephone, I was asked if I'd liked the underwear. Underwear, what underwear? I hadn't found any in my gifts. Underwear for Christmas?? For back to school, okay, but as a present? Apparently, I'd misunderstood. The undies in question were for my Barbie. This was an intriguing and original idea! My Barbie enjoyed fur coats, dresses galore, sweaters and pants, pyjamas, nightgowns, robes, sportswear, and enough footgear to rival Imelda Marcos herself. She'd been spoiled with all that my two grandmothers had created, but she did not have any undergarments whatsoever. Being understandably miniscule and almost microscopic ,of Barbie-doll proportions, the lingerie would have to be smaller than a thimble; perhaps nickel-sized, dime-sized? Grandma B. had thought to pack the undies in matchboxes. They were never found. Probably scooped up with the crumpled remains of torn wrapping paper. I then understood the idea of a needle in a haystack. Finding Barbie lingerie amongst household garbage was impossible. What had these panties looked like? What had Grandma B. used to make them? How had she stitched them together? Had she cut up hankies, napkins, socks, or scarves? Were the undies lacy and silky? Could they have been bold risqué colours; red or black? Maybe they were sensible sturdy white cotton briefs. Like the rest of her wardrobe, Barbie's underwear had to reflect her varied tastes, moods, whims, activities, travels and her careers. My poor Barbie had no choice but to continue with her life of dating, socializing, partying, jet-setting, travelling, working, and of course, modelling without any undies. Barbie bravely ventured forth commando style. Only she with her unblinking visage could pull this off.