What does one say when the family unit is gathered around the Christmas tree, after having finished a meal, and the matriarch unexpectedly hauls out a circa-1975 Barbie doll trunk and opens it?
Perhaps one keeps quiet for a moment as memories flood the brain. Not recollections of childhood innocence, but those of a more devious time in the teen years, when cynicism, dark humor and expansion of one’s knowledge base beyond the home’s borders prompted some tomfoolery.
Maybe the matriarch recently discovered the trunk, roused it from its dark repose in the closet, and placed it near the wrapped gifts, envisioning squeals of delight upon its discovery.
So when the Pandora’s Box is unhinged and the “La Cage Aux Folles” tableaux contained within bursts forth in all its pink, flaming glory, how should one react? Play dumb? Blame it on the resident teenager who last played with the dolls? What to say about Ken slathered in lipstick and eyeshadow? Forced into flowered bras and tank tops stuffed to create the feminine form? Should you, like the dolls, adopt a don’t-ask, don’t tell policy?
How does one maintain a poker face when the dolls are plucked from their “Brokeback Mountain” moment to be turned, poked and sniffed like produce for inspection? How does one refrain from bursting out in laughter when the general commentary of “Well, you really had some fun with these, didn’t you?” hangs in the air like clouds of expelled cigarette smoke?
Perhaps there is a moment when the truth is evident, that they are not what they appear to be, that perhaps saving tricked-out dolls for the grandchildren was not such a wise plan.
But the announcement of coffee and pie trumps this moment and it passes into oblivion.The cross-dressing, pre-op transsexual Kens are sent back to their Castro District. The pink trunk is thrust toward its rightful owner with the order that it find a new home.
What’s in your closet?