Several years ago, a friend who was getting married for the second time happened to have a fascination with Barbie. Maybe it was a hobby or a whimsy or a fetish, whatever you call it when an adult collects Barbie stuff. You know Barbie. Everyone knows Barbie, the doll that has been around since 1959, Mattell’s weird ideal of the perfect girl/woman that no living female could ever achieve.
Apropos of nothing, I recently got an earworm, that piece of music that continuously, uncontrollably runs through your mind. I can’t even remember when I last heard this particular song. Yet — all day, for several days — I’ve had the Backstreet Boys singing “As Long As You Love Me” in my head on repeat. Annoying, right? But worse than that, without their cute faces and stylish dance moves, the lyrics of the chorus strike me as quite problematic, if not ridiculous, in almost every context.
A strange and wonderful thing happened to me at a Halloween swing dance this year. As usual, it was a well-attended gala event. Most people, including me, were decked out in costume. It was early in the evening, a lively song came on, and I asked a masked man who was standing near me to dance. He wore a long cape with a hood and not one part of his head or face was visible. I had no idea who he was. He nodded yes, we got into dance position, took a few steps together. Then I looked up at him and the magic began.