Tag Archive: bookstore nostalgia


Barbie postBarbie
Barbie is the new B word, says one of my Sunday School kids
Stupid doll
She gives us the wrong impression, another girl says.
Barbie is the new B word
Even the boys were getting into it
Because she’s not real, one boy says
Nobody likes Barbie

I raised my hand, even though I’m the teacher
I love Barbie, I declare
They all stop what they’re doing
And eight pairs of 2nd and 3rd grade eyes stare at me
I didn’t back down

My teachermate, Miss Jennifer, tried to pull me aside,
Saying something about social injustice,
but I was about to defend my childhood,
and nothing could stop me now.
I put down the 10 commandments I’d been working on, stood up, and I said:

My sister and I had tons of Barbies. The older Barbies were in a gang and they were always trying to corrupt the good, new Barbies. I’ll give you Skipper, though. She was useless. Her arms didn’t even bend.

One year, I got a Barbie play house for Christmas and my Dad didn’t want to put it together right away after all the presents, so I got the tools and I put it together. It was in three sections, two stories, and I built it myself. It was glorious!

The French doors never worked right, but the elevator did.

My sister had a cowgirl Barbie who would wink at you if you pressed a button on her back, so we called her Winker Barbie and she was the leader of the rabble gang. Winker had really nasty hair because my sister tried to use the curling iron on it. The rest of the gang was made up of Barbies who had experimental haircuts and whose heads we sometimes switched.

Winker and her gang were notorious for launching attacks on the Barbie Mansion, where the new and pretty sorority Barbies lived in harmony, ‘cause they hadn’t lost any limbs yet. The usual attack would come when the Mansion Barbies were throwing a party and security got lax. And sometimes, Winker would team up with the Transformers and it would be Winker and the airplanes against Optimus Prime and the Mansion Barbies, good vs. evil-style over the Barbie Mansion, the last ally stronghold.

Sometimes Winker won, and Ken would drive the Barbie Mobile into the Mansion and the pretty Barbies would be thrown out of the house. (Ken always changed sides, depending on who had the better chance of winning the Mansion.)

Winker and the gang would redecorate with alphabet blocks and tacky popsicle stick furniture instead of the posh couches and appliances the Mansion Barbies had.

After most battles, though, good would prevail and the Mansion Barbies would triumph with a tea party and the Bambi creatures from the McDonald’s Happy Meal would come over.

Over time, many, many battles were waged, there were arms and legs piled high in the Mansion yard, which was the orange carpet of my bedroom, and heads would have to be switched.

But one day, the My Little Ponies attacked, and Winker and her band of merry thugs formed an alliance with the Mansion Barbies, and it was only through Winker’s fast moves in the Daisy Duke jeep, luring the Ponies into firing range of GI Joe’s missiles, that the Mansion Barbies ever had a chance. Winker’s quick thinking was the only thing that saved the Mansion Barbies. That and her friendship with GI Joe.

The alliance held. After that epic battle, which was the final battle, Winker and the thugs got to live in the house together with the Mansion Barbies.

The Mansion Barbies fixed Winker’s rat nest hair, and Winker taught them all self-defense.

Launch yourself into better imaginings, I told the kids.

The problem is not Barbie’s waist-to-boob ratio. It never was.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing


Bookstore Camping

photoOne of the things I miss most about living in Washington, D.C., besides my friends, is Barnes and Noble. Yes, the stores are just about everywhere. But in the D.C. stores, you’re welcome and even expected to camp.

It goes a lot like this: You walk in check out the line at the coffee counter. It’s huge, so you wander the aisles searching for a good book. You go straight to your favorites, and make sure you’ve read everything by your preferred authors. You hit fiction, history, Sci-Fi, geography, languages, religion, (not always in that order), and you pick up interesting-sounding books along the way. You meander to the New Releases, cards and magnets, children’s, and finally (if you’re me), take a stroll through movies. By now, you’ve amassed a good stack, and you’ve been keeping an eye on the coffee shop line–as well as scoping out any places to sit down. When the time is right, you hop in line for a grande latte or hot chocolate or cappuccino. (I never get the Venti size. Venti means “20” in Italian, for the 20-ounce cup. You don’t want to see me with that much caffeine. But the grande is plenty good.)

When I was there, the D.C. Barnes and Noble shops had about 40 seats available, mostly in the coffee shop, but a few were scattered throughout the store. At any given time, though, there were over 100 people in the store, all in various stages of meandering and stack-building.

Finally, with your coffee and your stack, you seek out a place to sit and read. Usually this means finding some nice floor space to set up camp. With all the people in the store, it’s tough to find even a single aisle that doesn’t already have someone in it. But by now, you’ve walked around all of them enough to figure out who has something in their stack that looks interesting to you. You do this to signify you’re a likeminded soul. You find your place to camp, set your things down in a way that others can get around you, sit down cross-legged, and get comfy.

I saw a good many people read the books and put them back. I liked to read snippets of my stack, choose the one I liked the best, and buy it on my way out of the store—usually 2 hours later than when I walked in. But I’ve also seen students camp out for hours longer than that, with multiple books, papers, and a laptop in their “camp.”

Wonderfully, it’s not social time. Even if you B&N with friends, you’re there to read.

I miss those days, the smell of new paper and ink and the camaraderie of not talking at all.

If you’re still doing this on Route 1, just south of the city, save me a spot in the aisle. I’m always there in spirit.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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