REALITY IS THE BEST
FANTASY OF ALL
For all us, and especially for children, there is a realm beyond reality.
Fantasy is a charming and necessary plane of existence often filled with abundant
contradictions, a place where things arent always what they seem, or perhaps things
are exactly what they seem depending on what we search for. There are no fixed rules and
someone else always picks up the tab. If you havent been there lately, its an
interesting place to go, even if your vision isnt 20/20.
Dressed in the same Batman costume hed been wearing every day for a year, a
beautiful dark-eyed little boy with a shock of unruly brown hair once asked me who I would
like to be. His eyes twinkled in anticipation as he waited for my answer. My response was
evasive for all I could think of was Cat Woman and I dont have the body for her
choice of clothing. I replied that I needed time to study the issue and I would get back
Max forgot that I was unable to answer his question and, for awhile, I did too.
And then one day he asked again. His inquiry stayed with me as the late summer days faded
into a burnished gold autumn, and it was still with me as we marched into November and
then plunged headlong into the holiday season. Here I was, on the basis of a three minute
shared communication with a young man not yet six, wondering who I would like to be when I
Thus, the fantasy begin. The choices were endless: Did I want to step into the
Presidents shoes? Perhaps Cindy Crawford for an evening? What about Tolstoy? Mr.
Rogers? Snoop Doggy Dog? Perhaps Ghandi or Sister Theresa? And then there was the Pope and
F.Scott Fitzgerald and Jackie Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. Dan Rather? Mike Tyson
or Janet Reno? It seemed unlikely I that I would find anyone suitable for the
fantasy...and then I found her, opposite an article in an old Womans Day Magazine
titled, "I Lost 193 Pounds and It Changed my Life.".
I wanted to be Autumn Glory Barbie!
Now, according to this advertisement, Autumn Glory Barbie "forever captures
the majesty of autumn with its vibrant colors and regal hues...Barbie shimmers in hues of
copper and auburn, adorned with fall leaves and accented with hints of purple and gold.
Her gown flows around her like an autumn breeze. Her long auburn hair and dark wine hat
add the final touch...," What more could a girl want?
Autumn Glory Lynne will be forever young, forever free of wrinkles, worry, and
want. Ill be a 100% fat-free-wide-eyed symbol of the American Dream with no present
plans to commit emotional suttee over family or financial matters, relationships,
employment opportunities or social change. Ill never again have to strike a bargain
with God, swearing to be a better human being, wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, or
neighbor. Never again will I be torn between joy and sorrow, nor will I experience misery,
illness or pain. Ill be catatonic, beautiful, and expensive to maintain...an
authentic American showgirl.
Isnt this nice? The lights are on but no one is home.
There is now before us the matter of "Ken". Ken is attired in his $2,000
white 007 dinner jacket from Lance of Boston, comfortably reclined in our half-acre living
room, nursing his bloated, frat-boy ego. He is the perfect male specimen, free of
outrageous male behavior that is beyond the comprehension of ordinary women. Ken would
never consider a self-imposed exile to the locker room, the bar, the duck marsh, or the
strip joint. The concept of urinating outdoors has never entered his mind. He doesnt
leave dirty socks in the hall, never misses his weekly manicure. His life is spent in a
fixed state, free of the meandering stream of male consciousness and temporary
neurological deficits generally attributed to mid-life crisises in men. I envy Kens
attitude to the same degree to which he astonishes me. Its almost as if he
isnt...well, human. This bothers me.
What else can one assume about Ken? There is the question of Kens political
affiliation, his sexual preferences, his religious beliefs, and his moral and ethical
landscape. Is he HIV negative? Anything less would be a hideous breach of social contract,
a revelation that Kens personal behavior has been less than exemplary. There are no
shifting parameters of human rights and choices in Kens life. He is perfect...yet as
one treads deeper into the fantasy, we are left in the untenable position of having to
question such extravagant perfection. Is Ken a WASP? Agnostic? Is he a closeted gay?
Republican? Does he lie? Is he intellectually or morally bankrupt? To what personal black
depths would Ken sink?
In a childs world, filled with glamorous dolls dressed in glitzy gowns and
expensive male evening wear, everything is all right and that is how it should be.
Hes all right; shes all right; were all all right. Everything is fine;
hes fine; shes fine; were all fine. Now smile for the camera, Barbie.
Say "cheese", Ken. Barbie and Ken will never be catapulted in the high power,
heavy league... marriage, family, mortgages, taxes, and banks charging interest rates that
could finance a space shuttle launch. Shell never be divorced nor will she be a
statistic. Hell never be sick, tired, or discouraged. Her waistline will always be
the same; hell never need reading glasses. Ken will never experience a sudden
intolerance for caffeine or an addiction to alcohol. Nor will there be any challenges...
but neither will there be any victories. Neither will experience human changes that pile
up like driftwood, forcing the current of ones life in strange and exciting new
directions. Theyll never experience love or passion, tolerance, patience, or
gratitude. Barbie and Ken will never be forced to remember the things in life theyd
like to forget, but neither will they be able to cherish all of the wonderful things in
life worthy of rememberance.
Are you starting to get the hang of it?
A wise man once said, "If you have to ask the price, you cant afford
it". The cost of being an Autumn Glory Barbie is too high, especially if I have to
pay the bill. Perhaps someday Ill explain to this charming, inquisitive child that
not all childhood questions can be answered, and that those that can require a great
amount of thought. Someday Max will understand that reality is the best fantasy of all.
This is a reprint from An American Dream Anthology published in