Times My Parents Should Have Asked More Questions

My parents are pretty cool parents. Generally, they’re good about discipline and did a great job raising me and my two siblings. Occasionally though, I’ll be telling a story to a new friend and I’ll suddenly be aghast at how little my parents intervened at certain obvious red flags. I know there’s only so much you can do when your kids act strangely, but man, we (me, my parents, society at large) all lucked out by these not being a bigger deal.

1. La Tortura de Barbies

When I was a kid, I used to absolutely future-serial-killer-style torture my Barbie dolls. I’d cut their hair off and hang them from the ceiling fans by their necks using my jump ropes as a noose. My bedroom looked like a freshman year modern art installation protesting the Iraq War for how many maimed doll bodies were lying around. One time, a young male friend and I found matches and melted one Barbie’s face until it turned black and then continued to play with her in regular rotation as just… a burn victim, I guess.

My mom repeatedly walked in on me orchestrating some kind of crazy Barbie doll orgy where all the Barbies would switch partners like a 1970s key party. Some were missing limbs, that one unfortunate soul was facially charred and the rest had their hair or tiny plastic noses shorn off. It was basically a Barbie concentration camp. How do you see that from your child and not ask a few pressing questions?

Best Case Scenario:

She’s just a weird little kid who needs to exorcise a few demons using inanimate objects.

Worst Case Scenario:

She starts burning cats. And then murdering people. We Need To Talk About Gaby.

Question They Could Have Asked:

“Sweetheart… are you an American Psycho?”

2. Agent Foxy Mulder

The Halloween I was in the sixth grade, my friend Jess and I — then both obsessed with the TV show The X-Files — decided to dress like intrepid agents Mulder and Scully. Jess had a David Duchovny poster above her bed and was pretty into him in a romantic sense. I played along like I did too, but really? I wanted to be Mulder, not so much be with Mulder.

That year, we dressed up as the investigative duo — Jess as Scully and me as Mulder. I put my hair up in a fedora and carried around an inflatable alien doll yelling “The truth is out there!” instead of the traditional “trick or treat!”

The reason I had a Mulder costume all ready to go? Because a month earlier when my mom had tried to get me to buy new outfits to wear to synagogue for the high holy days (meaning fancy clothes), I only wanted suits. Pants suits like the ones Mulder and Scully wore. I wanted neck ties. I wanted to look like an alien-pursuing FBI agent at all times. Instead, I looked like a miniature Hillary Clinton.

Best Case Scenario:

Overactive imagination. Perhaps she’ll become a writer or a scientist or go into law enforcement.

Worst Case Scenario:

Proprietor of the net’s premiere UFO evidence message board. Lives in basement. Wears tinfoil hat.

Question They Could Have Asked:

“Also… Mulder and not Scully? Pantsuits? Were you born a 45-year-old lesbian?”

3. One Does Not Simply Walk Into A Cigarette Shop

I fell briefly into the “bad” crowd my sophomore year and started hanging out with the mall goths and artists of my tiny, private, sheltered-as-hell high school. This is horribly embarrassing, but I was also mega-into The Lord Of The Rings at the time and I’d read in a magazine interview that Elijah Wood (a.k.a. Frodo) smoked clove cigarettes. When bad-kid-big-talk push came to shove and the other kids wanted to know what I smoked, I lied and blurted out the only thing I knew: cloves. Then, someone in that group bought me a pack of cloves. Neat! I could pull this off.

Only here’s the thing about cloves: they taste awful. So I smoked them around the other kids, but mostly I kept them in my backpack. One day, my mom was doing her usual “cleaning”/snooping in my room and found my cigs. Ruh roh. The conversation went like this:

Mom: “Whose are these?”

Me: “They’re not mine. They belong to… uh, my friend. I am, uh, holding on to them for her.”

Mom: “Oh. Okay.”

And that was it! Are you kidding me?! That’s all it took? I can’t remember if she actually took them away or not, but man. I must have totally Jedi-mindtricked her.

Best Case Scenario:

She’s going through a phase and cloves are gross. She’ll grow out of it.

Worst Case Scenario:

Emphysema. Cancer. Lord of The Rings cosplay conventions.

Questions They Could Have Asked:

“Hahahaha. Your friend’s? Seriously? These are obviously yours. You’re grounded. Forever.” TC Mark

image – The US National Archives


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  • Reni

    Tortuga in Spanish means turtle. Did you mean to say la tortura (with an “r”) de barbies, ie. torture ?

    • http://gabydunnthoughtcatalog.wordpress.com Gaby Dunn

      Hahahaha. I did. But that’s really funny. Thanks for pointing it out. What if I did mean Turtle Barbies? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.

  • http://gravatar.com/debrouillarde Meghann

    La Tortuga de Barbies? What about a turtle?

  • B

    Tortura, not tortuga.

  • http://twitter.com/mbp817 Marc Phillips (@mbp817)

    I’m LOLing at my desk. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/summer.gillen Summer Gillen

    Apparently the whole torturing/ orgy fascination with barbies is a thing. I did almost the same exact thing with my plastic victims…for most of their existence in my house. Glad we can unite on this.

  • http://thewonderlandtimes.wordpress.com Coco Jeannine

    I’m dying @ “One does not simply walk into a cigarette shop.”

  • alanapaints

    Tortuga: where Captain Blood fought on the beach with Levasseur for the virtue of Arabella. Basil Rathbone chewed scenery better than anyone: “These are the rosary of pain”

    My barbies got tied up and passed over the barbeque “volcano” a few times before they somehow managed to free themselves and escape into the ferns behind the hose faucet. Wily girls, they were.

  • palabrah

    HA! Excellent post

  • Barbie Genocide

    I cracked up and starting full-on LOL-ing when I read the barbies one. I did exactly the same shit, down to the ceiling fan :). I actually microwaved a couple of my barbies, as well as froze them in jars of solid ice, and called them barbiesicles. …………….i’m normal I swear.

  • SaraLily

    oh I tortured my Barbies too! Mostly in the bath or pool. My sister liked to pretend they were drowning. And they wre always having orgy parties and I CONSANTLY shoved bouncy balls up their dresses to make them pregnant. Guess my parents should have had questions too…

  • Rose Georgia

    i think every girl must do that to her barbies. my friend and i cut off all our barbies’ hair then painted their heads with black nail varnish. we also tried to burn them at the stake and hang them a few times. i had a beauty and the beast ken doll so sometimes barbie and ken got down with some scissor action. luckily i had no interest in ken’s removable beast head/mask thing so things never veered toward bestial.

  • duncansomerside

    I on the other hand, a gay man, played NICELY with my sister’s barbies… Until my mom sold them at which point I had to settle for play-mobile people.

  • http://harrisonwilder.com Harrison Wilder

    Will definitely have to absorb this and see what lessons can be applied to my posts on generational relationships :-)

  • Lady of Press

    my favorite– “tiny, private, sheltered-as-hell high school.” Oh, Posnack! Hahahaha

  • rsmithing

    And yet, you seem to have turned out fine. Not like you’re divulging tales of parental naiveté mixed with your own borderline personality behavior, right? Oh, wait… Cool post. ;)

  • Suraiya Sarwar

    Lol I love this!

  • KRose

    Hilarious! However…um… since when are cloves awful? I miss them with all my heart and soul.

  • çok güzel

    The same “they are not mine, I am holding them for a friend” excuse worked on my mother when she found a pack in my bookbag. Only I was in college, and she was visiting me in a foreign country where EVERYONE smokes. Mothers are just kind of funny like that.

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