So, I was cleaning out closets in my parents' house and came across a box of my old Barbie dolls. I suddenly remembered the games I used to play with them as a kid.
I was pretty imaginative and played out elaborate stories with all my toys, involving long-running plot arcs and complex emotional relationships. (I guess that's why I became a writer...)
The Barbies weren't my favorite toys (I preferred toys who lived in castles and rode horses), but relatives kept giving them to me so I ended up with quite a lot of Barbies and a handful of Kens. I decided they all lived in a condominium complex, in a sort of soap opera situation of romantic dalliances, boyfriend-stealing and Ken-swapping.
There was quite a lot of Ken-swapping. But eventually the Barbies managed to work out stable relationships with multiple partners. In particular, I remember a storyline involving three Barbies all secretly dating the same Ken, and then finding out and getting mad at each other, and then becoming friends again and continuing to take turns visiting Ken in his corvette.
So did I have an affinity for ethical non-monogamy as an eight-year-old? Or was I just finding a creative solution to a shortage of Kens???
Twin surfer Kens dated the same surfer Barbie for a while, too, so it wasn't just about the gender imbalance.
I do know a gay guy whose male action figures married each other long before he knew he was gay himself...
Or maybe the only games you can play with Barbies are romantic soap operas. My brother's GI Joes battled evil from their fortified moon base in the attic, but Barbies can't do much except change outfits (and change Kens).
For the record, I invented clever names (first and last) for each Barbie, and none of them were named Barbie. And they all had distinct personalities and interesting careers. (I think some of the Kens might have been stay-at-home boyfriends).