Candy – a short form of the name Candice or Candida,
both from the Latin word (candidi) meaning bright white.
Christmas 1983. That morning I remember running out to the living room and seeing it – our very own Malibu Barbie Dream House, complete with a pink elevator that really went up and down. On top was a big red bow. Exactly what my third-grade-self wanted.
I didn’t waste time. No reason to dart across the room and look closer yet. I saw plenty fine from the hall. I had to get straight to my sister’s bed. I ran and woke her with a shake and a loud whisper. Santa had come! The house was here! Come on! Together we rushed in for the better look. The fully-assembled California-dreamin’ pink plastic glorified box we had hoped so hard for and wrote to Santa several times about, stood front and center, before the large window that looked out into Texas winter-yellowed yard, familiar to every kid across the southern states at the holidays.
Dressed in our matching red and white candy-cane stripped pajamas with identical too-short-bowl-like bob haircuts, we traced our fingers over Barbie’s beautiful new home, lingering over the small, stickered details. Then we took a moment to shake boxes and peer in our over-flowing stockings. We had matching or coordinating pretty much everything, gifts included. My mom was not one to be accused of not trying to be equal. She took it to a whole new level trying to rip individuality away from us, it seemed to me. My sister and I were 15-months apart in age and my mom loved it when people mistook us for twins. Not me, though. I tried to make my own style, like Michael Jackson and Madonna. There’s no way I wanted to be mistaken for a twin with my little sister. Any chance I had to add lace black fingerless gloves and glittery plastic jellies to any outfit, the happier I was.
Earlier that month the full-length 13-whole-minute version of “Thriller” debuted on the most glorious of television channels – MTV – with its spacesuit-wearing, Music Television flag-planting man on the moon musical movies. What a thing to behold! I’d go on to have slumber parties based around Thriller’s Friday night airings complete with behind the scenes bonuses. But that morning, dressed as a twin among our presents, I didn’t care about being the future Material Girl. I only cared about the thrill of getting to playing in the Malibu Dream. My sister and I’d plan our life-ordering importances inside its walls for years to come.
Later that afternoon, when the wrappings were off and our Christmas Tex-Mex feast had been consumed, my sister and I got down to business with the rules of the shared Dream Home. My top Barbie, Candy, would rule the roost, living on the top floor, of course. My sister would get the second floor. We’d share the ground level.
We had all our Barbies ranked from one to ten, I named my best one Candy because, well, what little girl wouldn’t want to name her most smart, most business-saavy doll-version of her future-self, who was richer than her sister’s top Barbie by one cent, Candy?!? It was a name I’d wished was mine. So sweet, so delicious. Why wouldn’t every parent name their daughter Candy, after the most wonderful confection, I used to wonder.
Candy lived with her little sister and their boyfriends Han and Luke, of Star Wars fame, the top boy Barbies in our clan. Ken was for those lower down the line in ranked Barbies. The original Han Solo action figure, was, of course, the number one man, so he dated the number one-ranked Candy. She was smitten for his dark hair, black and white outfit and black boots, opposite of colorfully clad blonde-Ken. Like every good man, Han did what Candy wanted. He was loyal and dedicated to her success. My sister’s munched-on-footless Luke Skywalker doll would join her top Barbie, cleverly named Barbie, on floor two of planning our world domination.
It was the year of roller skate birthday parties and using my wood skateboard as a sled in the snowless Texas winter pulled by my Siberian Husky pup, Princess Jubilee. It was the year A Christmas Story debuted in movie theatres across America. It was the year of claiming I invented Carebears. (I’d show proof of my drawings from kindergarten to anyone who would look at my bear with a rainbow belly sketched in bright crayon). It was the year of the original incarnation of Strawberry Shortcake’s ever-sweet smelling skin, My Little Pony’s colorful plastic parading, and, the not to be missed, Cabbage Patch adoption craze, of which my sister and I took part as well. But none of those other treasures could compare to the endless looking towards our futures as the richest, most powerful women in the world with our famous, popular, and adoring hero boyfriends at our side. The world was ours for the taking. And it all started in that little pink plastic dream.