Big minus Tom Hanks

Eugenio Volpe

I’d stand shirtless in front of the toy box waiting for her to pick me up. She drove a pink convertible Vette. Always the consummate woman, she’d scoot over and let me drive. I didn’t have a car, which was embarrassing, but Barbie never said boo about it. She was sweet like that. She was moral enough to resent the privileges bestowed upon her. Without ever knowing the tapeworm creepy-crawl of a want, she had come into existence already having everything—a Malibu beach house, a townhouse, and three hundred and sixty-five different outfits. In comparison, I had pretty much nothing. Life sucks and then you’re born. Thus spoke Mattel.

Barbie wasn’t the upbeat bimbo that everyone thought. She was insanely cynical and Maoist. She was born in Hong Kong, the rapeful product of an almighty corporate goddess and Chinese peasant. Shipped off to America by her mother, Barbie vowed to avenge her father’s squalor by deconstructing her all-American blondeness. She would succeed by slutting around with pre-pubescent American boys. She was Che Guevara with a standup pair of C’s. She’d lift her leg over the stick shift and stomp on the gas as I spun bodacious figure eights across the carpet. With her face buried in my crotch, I would launch the pink Vette off album cover ramps à la Bo and Luke Duke, The Police wailing Jungian synchronicities off the knotty pine boundaries of our universe.

After a few hours of stunt-driving pornography, we’d head back to her townhouse and make crazy love in the yellow elevator. I could barely keep up. She was twice as tall as my penis. She was too much woman for me physically, intellectually, and emotionally. Perhaps for the best, our affair ended when my mother walked into my older sister’s bedroom to find me lying shirtless in front of the townhouse listening to “King of Pain” with my eyes closed, Barbie shoved headfirst down the front of my pants. Sting came to a scratching halt. I opened my eyes and sat up just in time to see my mother’s open-handed right hook catch me upside the head. She ripped Barbie from my pants and hit me over the head with her.

“What kind of a nine year-old boy are you?” she cried.

“I don’t have any toys of my own!”

“You have plenty of balls,” she quipped. “Go outside and play with them. Little boys shouldn’t play with dolls.”

“I’m a lover, not an athlete. My only way out of Castle Green is to seduce an heiress. I have to practice.”

My mom stormed out of the bedroom in tears. Castle Green was a low-income apartment complex. We lived there my entire life. My mother worked at Burger King. My father left her for a man when I was two. He never came back. Every few years, he’d send a birthday card with fifty bucks in it.

Coincidentally, a birthday card arrived a month later. I used the money to buy Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett. Princess Leia was a better fit. She was a princess who dressed like a monk. She had an absentee father. I had an absentee father. We didn’t need cynicism. We didn’t need a convertible Vette to get around. She was small enough to fit down the front of my pants without my mom noticing. She was roughly the same size as my penis. She came with me everywhere. She jacked my ego with the powers of the force. She was Mr. Miyagi with a perky set of B cups, the muse of James Blunt and Paul Simon, the daughter of Eddie and Debbie, the consummate woman.

Eugenio Volpe has stories published or forthcoming in New York Tyrant, Post Road, Exquisite Corpse, Twelve Stories, Waccamaw, and many others. He's been nominated for a Pushcart and won the PEN Discovery Award for his novel in progress. Recently, he won Boston's Literary Death Match, Episode 5. He blogs about Don DeLillo and surfing at