The Fall Guy

Totally Hair Barbie came out in 1992; I was in first grade. I brought the barbie to school with me because I was proud of her. I mean, she was the latest and greatest in Barbie. Her ridiculously long hair reached all the way down to her toes. All of my Barbies had names, but I can’t remember this one’s.

My best friend at the time, the same one who stole and then ate my strawberry crayon (and blamed me when it did not taste like strawberries), was incredibly jealous of my Barbie. “Give it to me,” she demanded, her hand thrust out in the expectant way that only a first grader who had everything could manage.

“No.” I hid the doll behind my back. When we went out to recess, I hid the doll in my desk. I didn’t want it to get dirty. But when we came back in, it was gone.

“I’m gonna cut her ha-air,” my friend said, holding the doll up by her deep brown strands and swinging her in front of me. My friend was, of course, several inches taller than me, and my attempts to jump up and down and try to snatch the barbie as she jumped up and down to keep it away from me drew the attention of our teacher.

“S*,” she ordered, “go sit in the hall on the red crate.”

God, the red crate. I hated that red crate. I was always on it for something. Reading in class. Chewing my fingers in class. Talking in class (no, really, SHE STOLE MY CRAYON). Honestly, most of the instances that landed me on the red crate were the result of my friend, not me. When she wrote on the bathroom wall, I took the fall. When she stole the teacher’s copy of Charlotte’s Web and hid it, I took the fall for that too. I was always her fall guy.

The crate needed a shiny golden plaque with my name on it. But alas.

When my teacher finally let me back in the classroom, I found out she had put the barbie away in her desk. I wouldn’t receive it back until the weekend. That was fine. I was patient. I was used to losing.

When I got her back, I braided her long hair into a bajillion teeny tiny braids. I had always wanted to learn how to braid, and a complacent subject was great for practicing. I used the braids to string her up from a branch of the tree in my grandma’s backyard, and I swung her back and forth. Eventually, I cut off her hair. Because she had been bad.

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