Jewish World Review Feb. 23, 2004 / 1 Adar, 5764

David Grimes

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Is there life after Ken? | In news that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Barbie and Ken are breaking up.

Like most people, I thought Barbie had ditched Ken years ago when it became obvious that Ken had little interest in women but a lot of interest in musical theater, if you catch my drift.

What the future holds for Ken is unclear, but I personally wouldn't be surprised if he ends up waiting tables in Key West or maybe wins a starring role on the spin-off "Queer Plastic Eye for the Straight Guy Doll."

The couple had been together for 43 years, making one wonder why it took them so long to realize their relationship was a sham. Russell Arons, vice president of marketing for Mattel, compared the relationship to a "Hollywood romance (that) has come to an end," ignoring the fact that a Hollywood romance is usually over 42 years and 6 months sooner than Barbie and Ken's.

Arons, who apparently figured out a way to perform some sort of Vulcan mind-meld with the dolls' plastic brains, said that Barbie and Ken "feel it's time to spend some quality time — apart."

Arons added, more than a little chillingly, that although the "romance" has officially ended, the couple "will remain friends."

(This is easy for Barbie to say since she has all the cars, jewelry and glamorous careers while Ken is left with little more than the slinky chiffon number and spike heels that he filched from Barbie's closet.)

Of course the real reason behind the break-up is as old as molded plastic itself: Barbie found someone else.

Reflecting Barbie's newly single status, Mattel is releasing the Cali (as in California) Girl Barbie, complete with board shorts, a bikini top, metal hoop earrings and a deeper tan. Her new boyfriend (pass the airsickness bag, please) is Blaine, the Australian boogie boarder.

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I have never met Blaine, but already I don't like him. Sure, Ken was an androgynous freak with the personality of waxed paper, but he was essentially harmless unless he happened to drop a picture frame on your head while he was redecorating your living room. Blaine, on the other hand, is clearly a sleazoid who hasn't done an honest day's work in his life but manages to get by by charming the sequined halter tops off naive, impressionable dolls like Barbie.

You know the type: Tall, blond, muscular, bronzed, dazzling smile but can't read a restaurant menu without moving his lips. Barbie must be careful not to get swept off her tiny feet by the charming but disreputable Blaine.

"Why don't we throw some shrimp on the barbie, Barbie? Get it?" lame Blaine will chortle. "And, oh, by the way, mate, why don't you give me the keys to your Jag so I can pop out and get us a six-pack of Fosters?"

If Barbie falls for lines like this, she and her board shorts and metal hoop earrings will be on the first Greyhound back to Topeka.

Maybe, if she's lucky, she can talk Ken into taking her back.

Not that he's such a great catch, but that breezy chiffon number does flatter his figure.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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