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The Disappearing Act

Chelsea Baranoski

Teardrops stained Barbie's bronzed face and her hot pink dress. Just perfect, Barbie thought. Another fashionable outfit drenched in teardrops. A typical woman, Barbie chose not to forget all of her "teardrop incidents." She remembered the time Ken killed her kitten, Kiwi, with toxic kitty litter. She cried all over her light pink tank top. Two months later, Ken spent the night at Teresa's bar, Pink Haven. She cried all over her rose-colored, rose-scented silk blouse. Only one week later, Ken spilled apple juice on the keyboard of her new MAC. He tried to make a joke out of it, telling her he reinforced the "Apple-ness" of the computer. She cried all over her magenta t-shirt. And today she mourned the disappearance of her blonde-haired, blue eyed boyfriend of ten years, the boyfriend she had dreamed of marrying since their first date at the Pinkadilly Pub. She knew he was "the one" because of his eating habits. He mixed all of his food together to make a roast beef-mashed potatoes-gravy-succotash-biscuit concoction. Barbie believed Ken's blending of foods symbolized a desire for unity. Of course this unity could only be achieved through marriage with Barbie.

Sometimes Ken would disappear for a few days at a time, but he would always come back to Barbie with a dozen white roses in his left hand and a pound of sugar-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free chocolate fudge in his right hand. But this time was different. She had not heard from Ken in over a month. She was not even sure if they were still "together." This could seriously affect the marriage plan. Before Ken made like Houdini and disappeared, he and Barbie had their biggest fight in ten years.

"No, I will not give you money for a Malibu dream car!" Ken had roared.

"But Ken, it's a limited edition and it's really cheap," Barbie had begged.

"If it's so cheap, why don't you pay for it yourself?" Ken had replied, rolling his ocean blue eyes.

"Because I'm the girl in this relationship!" Barbie had exclaimed, twirling a strand of her long blonde hair around a French-manicured finger.

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Ken had countered.

"It means that you should pay for the Malibu dream car. Every guy in Southern California knows that it is his responsibility to pay for things. The first rule of a relationship is that the guy must always pay for anything the girl wants. Forget that "double-dutch" bologna. I'm not a feminist, you know!" Barbie could feel her face getting hotter and hotter. She did not want to get too hot and sweaty; she forgot her blotting papers in the car.

"There is no written rule saying that the guy must pay for anything the girl desires. Besides, I'm kinda saving up my money right now," Ken had said, running his hand through his hair.

Barbie arched a perfectly waxed eyebrow. "For what?"

"I can't tell you," Ken had said, with a sly grin. He walked out of Barbie's pink dream house and hopped into his jeep, blasting Metallica. This was the last time Barbie saw Ken.


As the minutes turned into hours and the hours turned into days and the days turned into weeks, Barbie grew more and more nervous. Should I send out an Amber Alert? she thought. No, I think those things are only for missing children. Should I put up "Have you seen me?" fliers with dashing photos of Ken from his days as a model? No, I think those fliers are only for missing pets. Besides, I don't want some girl to see those photos of my boyfriend and run away with him. Wait a minute! Barbie could feel her stomach twisting like an Auntie Ann's pretzel. Teresa!


Barbie pulled up to Teresa's house in her pink corvette. She banged on the door so loudly that she was sure the geishas could hear it in Asia. "Let me in, Teresa!" she hollered.

Teresa slowly opened the door. She was wearing a skin-tight royal purple mini-dress with matching three-inch stilettos. She smelled of Calvin Klein Curve mixed with a hint of Polo Sport for Men. "Barbie! How have you been?" Teresa asked, enveloping Barbie in a bear hug.

The smell of Polo Sport intoxicated Barbie, making the knots in her stomach twist tighter and tighter and tighter. The light cologne made her think of Ken. "We need to talk, Teresa. This is urgent."

Teresa opened up the door and led Barbie down the hall and into the lilac wall-papered kitchen. "Have a seat. Can I get you something to drink? Maybe one of those strawberry lemonades you enjoy?" Teresa opened the stainless steel refrigerator. A six-pack of IBC root beer sat on the top shelf, all alone. Root beer was Ken's favorite drink.

"No thanks, Teresa. I can't stomach much of anything right now."

"Why not? What's wrong?" Teresa asked, tossing her long chestnut brown hair over her shoulders.

"It's Ken. He's been missing for a month and I have no idea where he is. And I think you know where he's been hiding."

"Pshhh, how would I know where Ken's been hiding?" Teresa asked, letting out a nervous laugh. The last time I saw him was at the barbeque you guys had about three months ago."

"The barbeque where you were all over Ken," Barbie exploded.

"I was not 'all over Ken.' You know I am just a touchy-feely person who loves to give hugs."

"I saw you kiss him under the palm tree in our backyard," Barbie grimaced.

"On the cheek, Barbie! He complimented me on my outfit!"

Barbie glanced around the room. Her blue eyes darted from the ceramic cookie jar on the kitchen counter to the apple pie with two slices taken out of it to the cell phone. Barbie got up and clip-clopped over to the kitchen counter. She picked up the cell phone and stared at it. It was a lime-green enV phone. It had a tiny pink heart sticker on the back. The tiny pink heart sticker that Barbie had stuck on it on Valentine's Day. Ken never took the sticker off because he was afraid it would leave ugly glue marks on the back of his most prized possession. Barbie turned on the phone and went straight to Ken's inbox. And array of texts popped onto the screen. All of the texts were from Teresa. She read the first one. "Have you gotten it yet?" What was "it?"

Teresa came up from behind Barbie and knocked the phone out of Barbie's hand. The phone clattered to the pink and lilac tiled floor.

Ding-dong! Someone banged on the front door. "Is everything okay in there?"

That was Ken's voice. Barbie may not have heard it in a month, but she could recognize that Southern accent mixed with a tinge of New York and a smidgen of California anywhere.

"Everything's fine!" Teresa shouted, a pained look on her perfectly made up face. She dashed to the cherry oak door and opened it for Ken.

Ken walked into the kitchen, humming "Don't Stop Believin" in a terrible baritone. "Do you think she'll like this? I --" Ken's eyes grew to the size of golf balls. He saw Barbie standing in the corner of the kitchen, with smudged mascara and white lines that extended from her eyes to her chin. Either she's been crying or she forgot how to put on make-up, Ken thought.

"What are you doing here?" Ken asked Barbie, rubbing her back.

"I think the better question is, what are you doing here? You've had me worried sick!" Barbie screeched.

"I've needed Teresa's help. And I've needed a month to make the right decision."

"And I couldn't help you make this decision?" Barbie asked, her voice getting higher and squeaker with each syllable.

"Barbie-" Teresa interrupted.

"Stay out of this, Teresa!" Barbie shouted.

"Now, now, Barb. Teresa and I have been doing a lot of window shopping this month. She helped me pick this out." Ken got down on one knee and white gold diamond ring in hand, said "Barbie, I have loved you since our first roast beef-mashed potatoes-gravy-succotash-biscuit dinner at Pinkadilly Pub. Will you marry me?"

Barbie broke into tears. "I-I-I- dunno," Barbie stuttered.

"What?" Ken exclaimed.

"I don't think the diamond is big enough," Barbie said, biting her pink glossy lips.

"But I spent a month trying to find the perfect ring. Are you saying I failed?" Ken asked, his voice catching in his throat.

"No. I still want to marry you. We just need to make a trip to Claire's Jewelers so you can take this ring back and I can pick out a bigger rock," Barbie said, matter-of-factly.

Ken breathed a sigh of relief. At least Barbie still wanted to marry him! "Whatever you say. The first rule of marriage - the wife is always right and the husband is always wrong."

Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski