In 2004, the Princess Barbie Movies came out with the Princess and the Pauper.
The movie was a direct to video edition starring the one and only Barbie as both a blonde princess and a brunette pauper. My daughter, Kayla, 5 at the time, was very taken with the movie and watched it repeatedly. Naturally, for Christmas, she wanted the Princess and the Pauper Barbie dolls. Santa obliged bringing not one but two Barbies into the house.
Barbie has been around since 1959. In fact, I actually owned one of the first Barbies with stripped swim suit, sun glasses, dark hair, and white plastic high heels. My Barbie had scandalous bright red toe nails.
Unfortunately, my Barbie, who would now be worth almost $30,000 disappeared in a move. I did have her with me when I married in 1989. Thus 56 year old Barbie won’t be funding Kayla’s college education in the next couple of years.
While the basic Barbie shape and size has remained, Barbie keeps evolving to appeal to a new generation of young girls. She has become less angular, her make-up particularly the black liner and red pouty lips are less stark, and her hair is softer. She has become somewhat ethnically diverse. Possibly the biggest transformation is she has learned to talk. Barbie started talking in 1968 with a string on a back of her neck. She spouted titillating phrases such as “Would you like to go shopping?” or “I love being a fashion model.” The ability to talk has evolved since this bare bone effort until this Christmas; you can purchase for your child a Hello “hackable” Barbie (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/12/04/hello-hackable-barbie/). Hello Barbie has an internet connection to “listen” to children and uses artificial intelligence to respond.
The 2004 Princess and the Pauper Barbies had advanced from talking to singing. They regularly sang around our house the main theme song of the movie, “I’m a Girl Like You!” The most memorable phrase for me is “I’m just like you (Princess); Your just like me (Pauper)”. As with any toy that makes noise, the repetitive singing of the two Barbies was slightly annoying to my husband and me, but Kayla got such delight over crooning along with the dolls we ignored the noise.
That is until we were awakened in the middle of the February night by a terrible caterwauling in the laundry room. The laundry room is all the way cross the house from the master bedroom, through a hallway, across the great room and through the kitchen. For my husband and I to both sit upright in bed and go, “What is that?” at the same time, gives you some idea of the noise level coming from the other side of the house. We could tell it was an electronic malfunction by the quality of the sound. At first, Pete thought it was fire alarm. You know the unbearable shrill screeching of declining batteries.
When we looked in the laundry room, the Princess and the Pauper were singing in garbled voices in the plastic basket at the bottom of the laundry chute. I threw them in the garbage can in the garage to mitigate their noise. My husband and I went back to bed.
The next morning Kayla explained, “I was having a pool party and after they went for a swim they wouldn’t shut up! They scared me so I wrapped them in towels and threw them down the chute.”
No kidding, they scared Kayla! Their garbled electronic voices in the middle of night terrified my husband and I. When the Kayla and I went off to school the next morning, we could still hear the two Barbies singing in the trash “I—mmmmm j—ust like—YYYYY ou! YYY our just like MEEEE!” as we drove away. I wouldn’t be surprised if their electronic voices are still sometimes heard haunting the Boise City trash dump.