Steve Chittock

There's a buzz in the media that's building up to a climax in less than two weeks. There are Web sites and blogs, contests and trivia quizzes and even a designer fashion event in honor of the occasion: Barbie's 50th birthday. Yes, Barbie the doll is turning 50. She was born March 9, 1959.

I went to a Barbie Web site to find out more about the old girl, and discovered an alarming slogan on the home page: "It's Barbie's World. We just play in it."

Really? I didn't know. I didn't think I lived in Barbie's world. It's a world of perfection as defined by the Mattel marketing team. Her hair, body, complexion and wardrobe are flawless. Even her pony, RV and household accessories are extraordinary.

Here's the honest truth: I never owned a Barbie doll. In fact none of my close friends growing up did either. I remember my parents taking me along to visit some friends who had a daughter a little older than me and that was the first time I met Barbie. The girl was changing Barbie's outfits every few minutes.

I had never seen a "grown up" doll before. My favorite doll was Shirley

with the red hair I liked to wash. Shirley was the size of a baby, soft

and cuddly. She came with a baby bottle and wore a nightgown. The 1959

model Barbie wore a black and white zebra-striped bathing suit, had

gold hoop earrings and a pony tail. She stood just 11 and a half inches

tall, but in human measurements her figure was 39-18-33.

I have to admit that for a middle-aged woman, Barbie still looks darn

good. I have not kept up with all her professions, hobbies and

adventures, but I know she's led an active and multi-faceted life. One

Web site claims she even ran for President in 2000. I haven't done all

the research, but I'd venture to say Barbie has not re-invented herself

as Menopause Barbie or Grandma Barbie yet. Wonder what Over the Hill

Barbie might look like.

Until a couple of days ago when I first became aware of Barbie's

pending 50th, I never thought much about her. I never considered the

fact that maybe I missed out by not having a Barbie. Would my life be

any different now if I had escaped to Barbie's world at a young age?

Perhaps I'd own a few ball gowns and remember to put lipstick on before

I leave the house. Perhaps.

To those who owned and loved your Barbies, why not drag the girls out

(if you still have them) for a birthday bash March 9? Relive the glory

days, hanging out with Ken and going to all those beach parties with

Midge. Toast miniature margaritas and reflect on the memories of all

you and Barbie experienced together.

Those of us who played with Chatty Cathys, Betsy Wetsys or, in my case,

a generic red-headed baby doll I named Shirley, wouldn't mind an

invitation to the party just to see what all the fuss has been about

for the last 50 years.