Authors: Pamela Ribon
Actual fan mail. People had sent me fan mail. I couldn't believe how quickly it had happened. I had just written the Barbie entry. How had so many people read it already?â¦
It felt like Christmas morning. I wanted a column, a book, a book tour. A body of work that took up a shelf. A house. A dog. I wanted to see my paperbacks with the covers ripped off piled in a used-books store, all beat up and worn with the memory of a thousand different fingers.
I wrote another entry immediately where I introduced myselfâ¦.
“With wit and spark, Ribon hopscotches through the high-bandwidth dramas of the modern girl's life.”
“A sexy, muscular ride through the irresistible thrills of online flirting and the all-too-familiar heartaches of real life romance. [The] writing is as moving as it is funny, with a shock and a delight on every page.”
âClaire Lazebnik, author of
Same As It Never Was
“Reading the irresistible WHY GIRLS ARE WEIRD is like hanging out with your best friend just when you need to most.”
âMelissa Senate, author of
See Jane Date
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Publication of POCKET BOOKS
A Downtown Press Book published by
POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Copyright Â© 2003 by Pamela Ribon
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
First Downtown Press trade paperback edition July 2003
DOWNTOWN PRESS and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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My heart beats:
“Mommy. Bosie. Stephen.”
“I'm a modern girl, but I fold in half so easily
When I put myself in the picture of success.”
It's been a long time since I've played with dolls. I've never really thought back on my time with plastic humans before, but today, as I was watching a group of giggly young girls browsing Barbies in the Wal-Mart, I remembered that feelingâthat strange sexual energy and giddy shame of playing Barbies in my bedroom. It was a spinning, dizzy sensation. My friends and I spoke in hushed tones as we held these dolls in various stages of dress. If our parents had ever found out what we were doing, those dolls certainly would have been taken away from us. It wasn't our fault Barbie and her pals released our initial sexuality. We were young and full of questions and those dolls are shaped like hand-held sexpots.
Barbie has big, incredible breasts with this soft spot between them that your thumb fits into just perfectly. She's not wearing anything underneath her clothing. You can put her in panties and a bra for a quick jog or you can have her make eggs in the Barbie Dream Kitchen wearing only a pair of spiked heels. You can pull her hair up or have it going down all the way to her high and tight ass.
Ken is big and bold and square. He's got a strong chin and jaw. His hair is blond, and sort of wavy. You can run your fingernail along the hard ridges on his head. Or can you? I can't remember if Ken had real hair. I think some of my Kens did. He is very muscular, and the bulge under his pants is impressive enough that you wonder if all boys polish their bulge as often as you'd polish Ken's with Windex. Ken has a nice, defined butt that looks good in a pair of swim trunks.
Barbie and Ken were very different from Donny and Marie. Yes, Donny and Marie
. The fact that I loved Donny and Marie at three or four or however old I was might clue you in on the kind of childhood I had. I spent too much time in front of the television and I loved variety shows. What four-year-old loves variety shows? And were there so many four-year-olds in love with Donny and Marie that they had to make dolls of them? And why did I still have these dolls once I turned ten? Why didn't I get new dolls? I can't really start thinking too much about the hows or whys because it's all so fucked up that I end up wanting to go back in time to scoop up tiny little me and hold her and tell her about the Partridge Family. Anyway, I had these Mormon musical star dolls, but I had no idea what a Mormon was, so they ended up being gigantic sinners in my house.
Marie had short brown hair that was like Sally Field's helmet in
. She was completely flat-chested. As bad as Skipper, if I remember correctly. Clothes just sat on her, and there was never a need for a belt. Her hand had a hole in it. You could stick her microphone there, but I knew just enough about Mormons to fit a diamond ring in the spot. I had Donny and Marie married, because I was young and thought anyone could get married as long as they loved each other.
Donny was wearing plastic tighty-whiteys. Seriously. There was an extra ridge of plastic that went around Donny's waist and legs. There was no bulge. His hair was dark and slicked down. A plastic shieldâthere was no fucking around with Donny Osmond's hair. His smile was so bright and big. I think they painted stars in his eyes. He also had a hole in his hand, but if you did it just right, you could stick one of Barbie's spiked heels in the hole and have him sniff Barbie's shoe. Donny and Marie didn't have enough money for rent, so they lived off their love in a Buster Brown shoebox. Only a ten-year-old can create an incestuous Mormon celebrity relationship and have it be romantic.
Barbie's legs were very difficult to open. You had to jam Ken between them. Donny's arms were already bent at just enough of an angle that you could prop Barbie's legs on each one and they were good to go. Marie's head could turn all the way around. The hole in her hand could also hold a small martini glass. Most of my dolls had marks on their backs from being bound, gagged, and jammed into the bed of my Tonka 4x4.
The Barbie without a left pinkie was the fetishist and she'd often blindfold Strawberry Shortcake and sniff her all over. Custard wore a spiked collar made of toothpicks.
One day the Barbie without a head convinced Donny and Marie to put pink and blue Life pegs through the holes in their hands. The Barbies pretended the pegs were hits of acid and got the Osmonds to think they could fly.
The Barbie Town House had a pulley system for the house elevator. Ken and Skipper enjoyed a quick romp on top of the elevator while it was going up, jumping off on the third floor just before they'd be crushed to death.
I had to give some of my dolls distinguishing marks so I could keep track of all of their fetishes. I didn't want the nudist Barbies to end up bathing with the dolls that liked to sleep with Weebles. Barbie GreenHair liked to take baths in cotton balls. She also enjoyed wrapping herself from head to toe in toilet paper. Skipper MarkerFace enjoyed cutting the hair off other Barbie dolls and taping it to her back. One doll had hair that would grow if you pushed a button on her back or shorten if you twisted her arm. The other Barbies would torture her by pulling on her hair while twisting her arm at the same time. Then they'd eat her hair. Barbie BackwardsLegs enjoyed riding cats. She'd strap herself on and hang on for dear life while they'd buck and toss and eventually eat her head. She was a wild one, Barbie BackwardsLegs. I miss the hell out of her.
Boys loved girls, girls loved girls, boys loved boys, and boys loved girls that loved girls. Anything went in the Barbie Town House.
And, oh, man, they still talk about the day Jem and the Holograms showed up with six bottles of tequila and a roll of paper towels.
Love until later,
So that's how all of this mess got started. I wrote a story about sex kitten Barbies, put it online, and my life changed forever. From the best I can tell, this entry got passed around from co-worker to co-worker, friend to friend. Those strangers and friends of strangers kept coming back to see what I'd write next. What I thought would be a tiny little webpage that just a few people knew about turned into one that thousands of people read every day. I thought the web was supposed to be dead. Wasn't that what everyone had been saying? “The death of the Internet!” That was why I couldn't get a better job than my library admin thing. It was why I was so bored and started all of this. I was trying to find a time killer at work and decided to teach myself a little HTML. I soon realized that the more I was typing, the more it looked like I was working. Anyone passing by my workstation would think I was hard at work improving myself, but in reality I was writing story after story, creating an entire life on the Internet. Slutty Barbies (and the fact that e-mail will never be dead) took me from Anna Koval, a nothing-special-twenty-something, to Anna K: web celebrity.
I don't know what I thought would happen. In hindsight, I don't know how I thought nothing would come of it.
But I'm ending the story of Anna Kâright here, right now. I'm closing down this website. I want to explain everything before I take it all away. Some people have been with me from the beginning, and I'd feel bad leaving after a year without so much as a good-bye.
It's been a year of strange choices and often embarrassing decisions on my part. I've made new relationships and lost others. Some people involved with all of this were more innocent than others. Those who weren't know who they are. There are others that will be shocked by what I have to say here. There are some who probably knew what I was doing all along. My only defense is that I never meant to hurt anybody. Looking back now, I know I was searching for something. I exposed myself until there was almost nothing left of me to hide. And now I'm removing the final bits of fabric, standing in front of you completely naked. It'll be our last time together like this, and I don't want to keep anything from you anymore.
It all started the night I watched my best friend, Dale, bathing. He had hurt his hand moving his new couch into his apartment and for the first time in a while he was asking me for help.
“You're very cute,” I said as I stood over his bathtub.
He lowered himself and floated a washcloth over his crotch: “Just hurry up and then get the hell out of here.” He tried to hide his rubber duck behind him, but I had already seen it.
Dale and I met at our first crappy jobs here in Austin right out of college. We waited tables at this restaurant over a Whole Foods store. Three good things about that job: an in-house masseuse, drinking smoothies between rushes, and meeting each other. Every other facet of that place sucked ass.
Dale's my friend who knows the joke I'm about to say because he was about to say it at that exact moment. Like this one time we were both in my car stopped at a red light and a girl wearing a miniskirt and enormous shoes ate shit right in front of us. We both busted up at the sight of those white platforms smacking up and hitting her in the ass as she made this face like she was on
The Benny Hill Show
. She fell to the ground and flipped back upright in almost one swift motion, her hands pulling the bottom of her skirt down as her purse knocked at her knees. But it was the moment when she walked back to stare down the crack in the street that caused her fallâwhen she had to go back just to show all of us that it was the pavement's fault and not those gigantic shoesâthat we completely lost it. It's that laugh that's deep in your stomach where you're sure you'll never breathe again, and nobody else in the entire world but the two of you know why what just happened is the funniest thing that will ever happen in the history of funny moments ever. That's Dale and me.
“I still don't know why Jason can't do this for you.” I wet my hands in the water, careful not to brush against his skin. “This is why we have boyfriends to begin with, Dale.”
“He can't come over until at least tomorrow and I'm tired of feeling so dirty. I can't clean my hair with just one hand and I hate feeling like I'm wearing a wig.”
I grabbed the shampoo bottle and squeezed the liquid into my palm. “A wig?”
“I have very thick hair. Now close your eyes and wash.”
“You're not the boss of me,” I mumbled. I didn't close my eyes. I watched Dale lean his head back into my hands. As I lathered up his head, I couldn't stop staring at his body in the water. It wasn't sexual. In fact, I was fascinated by how nonsexual it was.
“And why am I the one that gets to come over here and bathe you?” I asked.
Dale opened his eyes and moved his head from my hands. A stream of lather ran down his forehead, threatening to run into his left eye. “You aren't
me. You're just washing my hair. And you're the only one Jason trusts not to try anything funny.” He ran his hand over his forehead and leaned back again, waiting.
I wiped my chin, tasting shampoo on my lower lip. I sat back to dry my mouth. “âTry anything funny?' When did you join the cartoon mafia? What if I pounced on you right now? I could do that.”
“You wouldn't,” Dale said, inching back toward my hands as I leaned over the tub again. “We both know it'd be gross, and even Jason knows you haven't touched a man since Ian moved out.”
There wasn't much left to say after that. I knew Dale regretted the words. I could feel him trying to think of a way to lighten the air between us and get us joking again. When something that honest is said it usually needs a few minutes of silence to dissipate.
I was rinsing his hair when he finally whispered, “I'm sorry.”
“It's okay, Dale. I know.”
Ian and I had broken up six months ago. I tried to act like it wasn't a sore subject with me, but all of my friends knew that it was.
Dale changed the subject by talking about his screenplay. He'd been working on a film based on his ninth-grade science project. To this day he felt the contest was rigged and he should have taken first place. His movie will expose the inadequacies of state science fair judges and finally vindicate his second-place ribbon. It's going to be brilliant.
Dale was washing his underarms as he explained the love story between the girl who did her project on earthworm regeneration and the boy who determined the best metal for conducting sound.
“She's going to cheat on her project and he won't know if he can still love her.”
Watching Dale in the water, I saw just how much a bathtub could emasculate a man. His body looked smaller than usual, even though it filled the tub. The water made everything look suspended. The washcloth had floated to the foot of the tub, bunched and soggy like a discarded bandage. Dale's body seemed younger and weak. I saw how his dick seemed completely powerless. It bobbed inside the water quietly. Wet like that, it didn't look like a “dick.” It was a “penis” in that safe, Health class way. It was almost feminine in there, in the shadows of the bathtub. The water lapped around Dale's shoulders as he soaked, now silent in his thoughts of the lunchroom battle particulars, his wet head making him appear even more innocuous. He was a wet child in a basin. It was hard to see someone I thought of as a “capital M” Man reduced to a bobbing waterbaby. I was just about to look away when Dale popped his eyes open.
“All right, Pervy. I need some âme' time, okay?”
I went to the living room and watched a rerun of
Except for the bath, this was the usual Thursday night at Dale's: “Must See” TV followed by beers on his balcony. But that week the shows were reruns and his hand was hurting, so we decided it'd be bathing and beers. I watched him enter the room still in his bathrobe. He brought out a bowl of popcorn and almost stepped on his cat. Almost, as he and his cat have an elaborate song and dance. Dale and Trevor move completely in step, and although it looked like one of them should trip over the other, they never did. They danced perfect figure eights around the living room, both of them talking but never to each other. I hate that Dale named his cat after a member of O-Town. Dale hates that I won't bleach my hair again.
“You know if you tell anyone about this bath, I'll kill you.” His hair was almost completely dry already. It was so much shorter than he kept it when we first met two years ago. Now he hated it when it grew past his eyebrows. When it was longer, I loved how it would flop in his face when he laughed because he'd look just like Paul McCartney. It only happened when he laughed and it only happened when he had his brown hair in that bowl cut, but it was one of my favorite things in the world.
“Hey, for my birthday will you write me a story?” he asked.
I threw myself down on the couch, a cloud of new-couch smell greeting my face. The fabric felt stiff under my arms, and the cushions weren't welcoming yet. “I'm too depressed to write,” I said. This was the elaborate song and dance that Dale and I do. I pout while Dale primps me.
“Where is this big book about falling in love with India?” he asked.
“You never listen when I speak. It's about an Indian woman falling in love with a newscaster.”
“It sounds wonderfully retarded.”
“That's why I'm naming it after you.”
“I like it when we're seven,” Dale beamed.
“Me too. Being a grown-up is way dull.”
Dale hid his face in his hands and whispered, “Shitty!”
“I'm so telling!”
Dale giggled and then pretended to be quite serious. “Write me a story,” he demanded with a stamp of his foot. “And I need some body gel. And an R.E.M. CD. Wait. Let me get some paper. I'll make you a list.”
I went home and wrote the Barbie entry.