I knew that I would not be able to find the answer to my query through imaginative contemplation. And because Barbie is always entertaining guests, either I would need to do legitimate detective work, asking the right people the right questions, or I would need to bend the rules and venture into the forbidden areas of the Pink Palace uninvited and find what I was looking for. I feared that both tactics would be required.
That night, just as the evening festivities had come to an end and the guests were being ushered out the door and upstairs for bath time, my oldest son came bounding through and I took him to the side.
“I’ve got a job for you.”
“What is it?” he asked with interest, knowing that whatever the petition, it would require additional time and he wouldn’t be going off to bed just yet.
“While momma is bathing your sisters and brother, I need you to search the Barbie house for something.”
“What is it?”
“I need you to look through all of the cabinets and cupboards. See if you can locate a bottle of anything.”
“What am I supposed to be looking for?”
“That’s not important. Just tell me what you find.”
I checked to see that Barbie was asleep in her bed, and then I gave my son the okay. I went upstairs to help with the baths so that I wouldn’t become suspect to the girls. Josh tiptoed to the mansion and began his search.
A little later, after the younger ones had all been safely tucked into bed, my son came to me with a disappointing report.
“I found ketchup and milk and orange juice, stuff like that.”
“Well, there was a folder that looked like it had been taped up or something, but I didn’t think it was anything so I left it.”
“Okay, pal. Thanks.” I gave the gumshoe a dollar and sent him up for his shower. It looked like I would need to do it myself. In the meantime, until the time was right, I would start asking questions.
On the way to school the next day, I asked my 7 year old, “So, honey, I was wondering about Barbie. When you are playing with her, what do you usually do?”
“Nothin’,” she said. “We just play.”
“Dress up and stuff, right?”
“Yeah, she has dresses. And shoes. And she has a horse, too. Can I watch ‘Barbie and the Three Musketeers’ tonight when I get home from school?”
“Yeah, sure, honey.” I could see that I was going to have to lead her with a bit more precision. “So, honey, what do you think Barbie will do while you are watching your movie?”
“She’s a toy, daddy. She lays there.”
“Yeah, I know that. But what do you think?”
“She doesn’t do anything. She watches the movie, too.”
Of course she does, I thought to myself. Her giant house sits right next to my TV, and because the house is, in fact, behemoth, my TV serves conveniently as the wonderful high-definition horizon for the penthouse apartment on the third floor. I suppose that from Barbie’s perspective, it’s more like living next to a drive-in movie screen than a sunrise or sunset.
“Does she eat anything?”
“She eats chips. And cake. And Chinese food.”
“Does she drink anything?”
“Ummm. Water… milk…orange juice… Can I have some orange juice when I get home from school?”
“Yes, honey,” I answered slyly, somewhat revealing by my tone that I’d uncovered a clue. “So Barbie likes Chinese food, eh?”
“Does she really like Chinese food a lot?”
“She eats it every day for breakfast. And she drinks her orange juice.”
“Sounds great, honey,” I said. The Scottish bells were ringing. The Clan flags were raising. I could see a little more clearly through the eye of my mind. A regular diet of Chinese food (vegetables, soy, nuts, and sprouts) suggested a particularly rarer Scotch, indeed, but to an even further extent than perhaps I had originally surmised. I thought for sure it would be a well-known label, but how foolish must I have been to think that Barbie, the baroness of all things common in luxury, would mingle her private trappings with her civic persona. This particular clue led me to discern that she, being exceptional and classy, would not share everything in public. She had a hidden side, a darker, more robust and privileged side, more so than I may have known, one only flared to excitement by the intrigue of Communism and corruption. A Scotch appeared — Ben Wyvis 37 year old. What a lovely thought, just a few ice cubes stacked at the bottom of a Waterford crystal rock glass, drenched in whisky distilled in 1965 and currently selling for about $2,000 a bottle; full and dry, with a smoky palate of nuts and vegetables. It would be perfect for a highlife night in Beijing or Taipei, and yet comfortable enough for the after-hours, “out-of-site” celebrity grittiness and squalor of a Shanghai or Wuhan den, the choice locale for a celebritous fashionista making a property deal with a high-ranking Chinese official.
But even with this revelation, Ben Wyvis still left me uneasy. Would I truly have found such an exceptional dram dangling from Barbie’s fingertips? I’d seen her movies. She surfs with mermaids and clanks rapiers with inept Spanish soldiers. She dances with every magical prince willing to swoon her and isn’t very selective about the sorcerous potions dumped into her chalices, often finding herself in a predicament that requires enchantment for rescue. Is she really so refined in secret, as I’ve credited to her, or is she living her life before the world on the silver screen?
“She eats it every day for breakfast. And she drinks her orange juice…” These words rattled in my head.
She eats Chinese food every day, but she drinks orange juice every day, too. Ben Wyvis is by no means sweet, nor is it for the weak-kneed traveler who would require sweet liquids in the morning and umbrella drinks, most likely, at night. Her choice would include something of China, but it would most likely be of a lighter, sweeter cask.
I wasn’t willing to commit to this truth just yet, and neither was I entirely ready to forsake the current possibility. Setting Ben Wyvis aside for a moment, I gave a nod to the rarity and thanked him for helping to light the way. However, I’d need to search further. In my mind, on the horizon, Glenmorangie and Bruichladdich flags clearly flapped in the breeze, beckoning consideration.