The gift

A mysterious new woman moved into our happy home recently. All of us, my wife Rachael and daughter Skyler included, were more than a little shaken when she first appeared in late December.

From afar, the woman resembled a masterpiece of cosmetic surgery. Long and slender, she sported barely an ounce of body fat. Even her hips were girlishly small relative to the rest of her tall frame. Resting atop her perfectly flat stomach was what my educated eye guessed to be a pair of D-cups. Rounding out the ensemble was a perfectly bronzed body, a long shock of platinum-colored hair, aquamarine eyes and thick lips perpetually stained off-red.

There was one major defect. Our new house guest was and is exactly 8 inches tall.

You guessed it. Barbie herself is now an official member of the Sands family.

I still get a shiver of anxiety when I think back to that fateful Sunday morning when Skyler’s 3-year-old fingers ripped the shiny paper away to reveal the designer doll.

This was no mere convenience store Barbie. It was Princess Annika Barbie, a dapper and mildly intelligent 16-year-old “girl” from the middle ages. Her passions include ice skating, hunting for Mr. Handsome and a little white cub named “Shiver”

A second matching box was then torn to bits, revealing a large, purple, winged horse, ready and willing to sport Annika away to far off destinations. And just in case mom and dad hit the creativity doldrums, a third gift contained the book Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus.

To make a not-very-long story extremely short, the lovely, sweet spirited Princess Annika is ordered by her parents to stop ice-skating after dark. We all know what happens to innocent princesses after dark, especially at the ice rink (just ask the Lipsticks or the Durango Betties). Anyway, Annika and her companion, the talking bear Shiver, sneak out for a late night party at the rink. There she is, skating her little blonde heart out, when the evil wizard Wenlock appears mid-triple axel, just what her parents’ had been trying to avoid in the first place.

Wenlock, who resembles nothing more than a typical Durango male (longish hair, goatee, rugged clothing), asks for Annika’s hand. She highbrows, refuses and departs on adventures, thanks to the winged horse, carefully avoiding Wenlock’s advances at every turn. In addition to outwitting a giant and meeting the Cloud Queen, Annika stumbles upon a long, purple, perfectly proportioned phallic object known as “The Wand of Light.” Now this is where it gets interesting. With the help of “a handsome young man named Aidan,” Annika harnesses the power of The Wand of Light. Thanks to Aidan’s knowing hand, the wand eventually pulsates with such power that it “melts Wenlock’s wand,” also a perfect phallic likeness. Annika hooks up with the nicely groomed, mildly effeminate Aidan, they figure skate off into the sunset, and we all get to revisit this a decade from now during a family psychiatric visit.

“So tell me Mr. Sands, why did you deliberately champion the Wenlock character? What did you have against the Cloud Queen, anyway? What is it that you find so threatening about the princess form of Barbie?”

Call it Barbie envy if you like, but the truth is, I’ve always had it out for the Cloud Queen. In fact, I’ve secretly tried several times to send Annika, Pegasus and Shiver on an all-expense paid trip to lovely Bondad, Colo. I’m sorry to report that The Wand of Light triumphed during each of these ill-fated attempts.

In my defense, I will say I’ve never deliberately repressed Barbie dolls, cheerleading, makeup, clip-on earrings or any choice manifestations of the hormone estrogen. The Bondad attempts were just little slip-ups. We’ll call them accidents.

However, I will admit to eagerly volunteering a different lifestyle for my toddler, one that’s charged with Nordic skiing, camping, cycling and river tripping. During the first few years of her life, the plan appeared to be working. Skyler begged to go for lap after lap at the Nordic center; loved repeated tries at wielding the oars on the San Juan and Dolores; and sat happily for extended, 20-plus-mile rides in the bike trailer, whipping me on with calls of “Faster! Faster!”

But lately, times out at the homedale have revolved around painted nails, layering on pounds of mom’s jewelry, wearing tutus to restaurants and talk of putting on makeup. Last week, just when things looked bleakest, at the end of (horror of all horrors) ballet class, Annika and Pegasus suffered a serious misstep. Jumping into my arms, still buzzing with the thrill of her first plies, Skyler gave me a big hug and said, “I think I’m ready to go on a camping trip now, dad.”

And I’m happy to say we returned home to some more good news.

The almighty Pegasus somehow lost a wing in our absence (“I had nothing to do with it, your Honor”). The Princess Annika had been disarmed of The Wand of Light, now likely laying inside a remote piece of ductwork (“My client maintains his innocence in this matter”). Contorted and powerless, the princess was helplessly discarded in the corner of the room, her nubile form pinned beneath a mini monster truck I’d jokingly bought Skyler two years earlier. Yep, American Ranger, in all of its big-wheeled, black, patriotic glory, was stalled half-way up the great Barbie hill climb, and the crowd was going wild. Chalk one up for the poor, misunderstood Wenlock.

And who knows? With The Wand of Light gone, maybe Wenlock will get his wand back one of these days. And maybe, just maybe, Barbie and Pegasus will get to take that big vacation after all. I hear Bondad is absolutely lovely in the early spring.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows