I couldn’t remember a time when I’d seen Barbie imbibing. Of course, I’ve only known her as long as my daughters have been around. And realistically, we didn’t become acquainted with one another until my oldest daughter was about 4 years old. Thusly, personal history was of no help to me. I had nothing to start with and no direction to follow. And at this point, though the trail was being led by orange juice and Chinese food, it seemed right. They were good clues.
So I ran with them. Having already set the Ben Wyvis aside, I focused my attention on Glenmorangie and Bruichladdich.
Glenmorangie, a fine whisky no matter the selection (and one of my favorite distilleries), seemed to hold so many of the qualities that Barbie would apparently prefer. The one in particular that came to mind – the Sauternes Wood Finish edition. It was distilled in 1981 and released in 2002. You can get a bottle for about $1,000. Unlike Ben Wyvis, this particular Scotch isn’t so burdensome to the tongue. It’s much sweeter, offering lemon blossoms, additional citrus—namely oranges, and a slight hint of roasted almonds. All of these fit the clues. What’s more, this edition has been noted by whisky connoisseurs as being a “sexy” Scotch. Depending upon how folks interpret Barbie, this may or may not fit.
The other Scotch that came to mind was fashioned by Bruichladdich. It was the 1983 edition. This one seemed to be even more so on target in that it is a ginger-sweet concoction that offers the distinct flavor of pralines and citrus, but not just any citrus—mandarin oranges. A thought arose: Mandarin is a dialect of the Chinese language, spoken primarily in the northern and southwestern territories. The southwestern territories are nearest the “Stan” countries (Pakistan, Tajikistan, Hindustan—or India, etc.). I had read recently that whisky, particularly Scotch, was becoming increasingly popular in the Stans, much to the dismay of fastidious religious orders. The northern territories border the southern edge of the Russian Federation. The Russians aren’t vodka drinkers alone. I’ve been there. They drink whisky, too. Bruichladdich could be the one.
So many thoughts. So many details that had me wondering. How would I know for sure unless I found the bottle?
That night, I convinced my daughter that it would be wonderful for her to invite Barbie to a sleep-over. With great joy, she scooped up her friend and trotted off to brush her teeth and get into bed. No sooner than her little feet had whisked her away did I make my illegal entrance into the Barbie house. It was all mine until morning. And so, I went looking. I looked through the cupboards. I searched the refrigerator. I looked in the nightstand next to the bed. I searched for secret doors and false walls with hidden storage spaces. I looked everywhere, but in the end, found nothing. I did discover the folder that my son had spoken to the previous evening. I intended to open and read through it, but at that moment, I merely tucked it into my satchel as being of no immediate concern.
I continued my search for a little while longer, retracing where I’d already been, hoping to find something I’d missed, but still came up empty-handed. There was no trace of Scotch whisky in the Pink Palace.
Disheartened, I retreated from the mansion and sat down on my couch.
“I just don’t believe this,” I said out loud. I got up and went to my own trove of delights. I searched for just the right bottle, one that offered consolation in the face of defeat — The Glenlivet 21. Having poured a finger’s worth, I walked back in and sat down on the couch. Staring at the Pink Palace, I drifted into a distracting but familiar thought that once again pressed, “How is it that her house ended up right next to my TV?” Still staring, I reached into my satchel and grabbed the file folder. The words “Never Throw Away” (surrounded by bubbles and flowers, by the way) were written in permanent marker on the front of the folder. I snapped the edges that had been sealed with pink sticky tabs, took a quick sip, and then began to thumb through the documents within. With what I discovered, my glass fell to the floor—and my heart fell with it.
Inside the folder were documents that detailed Barbie’s life. One in particular was a narrative statement given in a court proceeding. I was too saddened and breathless to read the charges. I didn’t want to read them. I would only surmise from the writing that they were dreadful. The manuscript in my hand was a slightly crumpled copy of the court record. It contained the full summation given by the defense. It had the most alarming photos attached. I share only one with you. It is her mug shot. And I share the two manuscript pages kept in the folder. I have scanned the originals, but I have also included a type-written version of the two pages (which immediately follows the images) just in case you have trouble reading them.
She should not be allowed to go unpunished. She should be found guilty and locked up for a long time; a very long time.
Thank you for your time. The Prosecution rests, your honor.
Judge Prime: Thank you, Mr. Lightyear. Mr. Kolonich, are you prepared for your closing statement?
Mr. Kolonich: Yes, your honor.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury—I’m not going to hide anything. I’m going to shoot straight for you. Look at her, in her 50’s and she still has that supermodel glow and physique. She is not educated. She never even completed high school to my knowledge. She dressed like a queen and yet she couldn’t ever hold down a job. Ballerina Barbie, Flight Attendant Barbie, Nurse Barbie, and even a wannabe Vampire Barbie working seasonally at haunted houses around Halloween. Not the jobs for fueling extravagant living. The pink VW bug, Corvette, luxury RV, multiple homes; this isn’t a life of stability, this is the lifestyle of a trust fund baby run amok, with no loving parent to guide her. Mom left when she was little. No one even knows who she is. Her daddy’s old money, stockpiled from his work as a real estate developer and advertising mogul, all those years in China, making deals with the communists, he kept his liquor cabinet with a supply that would rival any liquor shop in the world, and with daddy always absent, Barbie was free to do whatever she wanted, unsupervised and unbridled, but also unloved.
She got her start drinking by stealing from her old man’s liquor cabinet. It’s here that she got the taste for some of the finer things. But would the appreciation last? Would it become habitual, making her accepting of anything that would dull the pain, the emptiness?
And the boyfriend, Ken, the deceased, he wasn’t exactly the best influence. He got his start at the country club shining Barbie’s old man’s shoes and cleaning his golf clubs, but only after he’d finally gotten out of juvie where he was doing time for assault and battery among other things. He was already a delinquent, and he never changed. He kept his habits alive, fueling them by sly drinking the backwash from the tables he bused at the club, cigarette butts and all. And then he met Barbie, a young girl at the time, impressionable, hurting. Barbie was already a powder keg. Ken became the fuse.
And then, in 1971, the fuse was lit. The man who never showed her any love, her father, he dies in a plane crash. With this, she’s lost the keys to the kingdom. She couldn’t handle being the heiress. She turned to Mattel, her benefactor. In exchange for custody of the estate, they promised to take care of the businesses and to take care of Barbie. They offered her the opportunity to become Rock Star Barbie. And one hit later, her rock career started showing some life. And she started riding it. She abused the finer things, all the while, behind the poppy tween songs and the Nickelodeon specials, she tried to hide her pain, crying in her dressing room alone, weeping bitterly. And then she came home from tour and caught Ken with Scarlett, a covert ninja he met at a party thrown by his good friend Snake Eyes and sponsored by the special operations GI unit named “Joe.” Her life had come apart. This trust fund girl was spiraling, and all she knew how to do, all she ever learned, was to flush it all and then some.
By now all of Daddy’s good stuff was gone, not even enjoyed, but chugged, and slammed. You can probably still find the smashed bottles in the shrubbery surrounding the deck of the pool at the Dream House. Mattel started threatening her contract because she was beginning to show signs of wear. She
had to maintain her good looks, so she went under the knife and had more work done than Joan Rivers. But as I said, everything was coming undone. Barbie soon found herself fighting with the bank as the Dream House went into foreclosure and all her pink possessions were repossessed.
So, what does she medicate with now, now that her life is in ruins and daddy’s money is all gone? How did she end up her? She turned to the only one who gave her any affection—abusive, unloving Ken. We know the tragic story from there. It’s why you, the members of the jury, have been sequestered for the last six weeks.
I can tell you that before her incarceration, this once iconic image of beauty and all things pure, she was just a little girl who had been swallowed up by the world and she had finally hit rock bottom. She would crawl into bed at 6am, still hung over, the Malibu sun just coming up and shining through a hole in the blanket that was hanging over her window. Her apartment, where she was arrested, it reeked of stale smoke, dirty dishes, moldy bread, and booze. The buzzing from the flickering neon sign outside her window gave a soft hum that never went away, except when it was drowned out by the shouting from the couple upstairs. She was numb to the daily gunfire outside. She would sit on the couch all day watching her old movies, dreaming of being a mermaid or a dancing princess, wondering how it had come to this, the picture on the old tube TV flickering a dark green hue. The only bottle in her reach, both physically and financially, was a plastic $10 bottle of Scoresby. She would fill up an empty Taco Bell cup, and then lay down to sleep.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this was the little girl before us today, but no longer. Things are different now. Even in the eight months she’s been in prison, her life has changed. With a lot of effort and a lot of help, she’s turned things around. She’s made so much progress. She’s been sober for four months. She only drinks orange juice, milk, and water. Mattel has cut her loose from her obligations and she’s working for Disney, now. She’s in a stable relationship with Flynn Ryder. Maybe you’ve heard of him from his stunning performance in “Tangled.” Barbie is making great strides. She loves Chinese food and cake and chips. All she needs now to keep going, to continue becoming a decent, upstanding contributor to society, is mercy. Please, find it in your hearts to have mercy. I know that Ken is no longer with us. I know that he suffered a similar childhood and his life ended gruesomely, but I also know that some of you may be wrestling with the fact that he may have deserved what Barbie gave to him. But either way, nothing we do to Barbie now can ever bring him back. The prosecution wants her sent to the Gamma Quadrant, Sector Four, where she would be locked up with the likes of Emperor Zurg and Vader and Donald Duck and the guy who started Starbucks, all of the most vile in our society, all those who, like Ken, never showed any remorse, never showed any intention of ever changing. What will sending her to Sector Four accomplish?
Look at her. Look at her and know her troubles. Have mercy and give her what she needs, what she craves — real, genuine love. I hope you can find it your hearts to provide this for her.
Thank you for listening. Thank you, your honor. The defense rests.
Judge Prime: Thank you, Mr. Kolonich. People of the jury, you have received all of the information to be considered by this court. We will adjourn briefly for lunch. When we return, I will provide you with instructions and then you will be allowed to deliberate for as long as is necessary. Take great care that
My search had come to an end. All of my surmising, all of my reflecting, and I wasn’t even close.
Barbie doesn’t drink Scotch. She drinks orange juice, milk, and water and that’s it—just like my daughter said. And good for her. With that, I walked upstairs, still carrying the folder; all of the little ones were already fast asleep. My seven year old, she was cozy in her Tinkerbell blanket with Barbie being clutched peacefully close. I walked over and kissed my little girl and then reached down to tuck Barbie a little more closely into the warm confines of my petite girl’s arm.
I got up to leave. I turned once again to gaze upon the tranquil scene, standing in the doorway with the light of the hallway to my back. A photo fell from the folder to the floor. Bending down to pick it up, I could see that it was a photo of Barbie and her father, sitting on bar stools in his big game trophy room. They were smiling and eating what looked like fortune cookies. Just behind them, his fully stocked bar. I looked closely. Sure enough, on the top shelf, just to the left of the Bombay Sapphire — a bottle of Ben Wyvis 37, a bottle of Glenmorangie Sauternes, and a bottle of Bruichladdich, but not the 1983. It was the 40 year old. Hmmm…I never would have guessed that.
But still, I suppose I was close enough.
Goodnight, little one. Good night, Barbie. You’re safe now. The little girl holding you will give you all the love you could ever need and more. Trust me, I know. But if you are going to stay, we do need to talk about the current location of your house.
A Note of Thanks:
Many thanks are due to my good friend, Shawn. I had a plan when I began writing this little story. And so I wrote Part One, posted it, and then got started on Part Two. That next morning, Shawn had posted a hilarious comment that thoroughly portrayed a tragic rendition of Barbie’s life. This was a theft of my thunder for Part 3! Arrggghhh! But what Shawn wrote had me falling out of my chair in laughter, and it was too good not to follow his lead, so you should know that seeds of what you have in the courtroom record were born of Shawn’s hand and led by his posted comment.