My son received a doll for Christmas.
Not just any old, sissy plaything, this doll was for dudes only. Henry, as he is called, teaches young, diapered men the skills of shoe tying, velcro-manuevering, and buttoning. Within a matter of weeks my one-year-old adapted such finger agility that he could lace up a sneaker with one hand while untangling a series of complicated knots with the other. I was impressed with my son, the Pinky Prodigy, despite the fact that he still could not master the word Ma Ma or properly determine the threat of bodily injury involved in flinging one’s self from the sofa. My boy, my pride and joy, would grow up to wow the masses with his ambidextrous genius.
But as with all good things, I had to go and over think on the topic. Suddenly, the infant’s grasp of shoe-lacing seemed less impressive. He could not very well grow to adulthood having only conquered the World of Knots. He needed a more educational toy to flood his absorbent brain with practical life lessons. Doesn’t Fisher Price make a Baby Checkbook? Is it so much to ask that someone invent a Your Baby Can
Read File Proper Taxes video? The more these questions swirled, the quicker I spiraled into the dark depths of maternal worry. Henry, you fool, you’ve given my son nothing.
Then, as winds of hope and sanity blew in, a light shone to save me from the bottom of the well.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Barbie’s arm candy love interest, Ken, Mattel set out to revamp the The Mister’s image. In what might go down as the most over-hyped contest in the history of plastic men, the company launched an 8-episode competition on Hulu, Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend. Contestants of the Real Live Fleshy persuasion battled it out for the “chance to melt Barbie’s plastic heart” and offer the inspiration for Ken’s new image. This is pure speculation, but I imagine the first 50 years of inspiration went a little like this:
Mattel Executive to very confused factory employee: “Just cut Barbie’s hair, Dorothy Hamill style, and beef up the shoulders, Dorothy Hamill style. Put her…errr, him in a suit, and let’s call it a day.”
The slightly trippy Plastic Bachelor series culminated in Kurtis Taylor, a 25-year-old former Iowa State defensive lineman being deemed worthy to have his six-pack and morals cast in plastic glory. In other words, the new Ken is like the old Ken, only more tolerant of concussions and more likely to chest bump Barbie in a testosterone-surging celebration of victory.
TODAY Show reporter, Seamus McGraw (who probably was almost named Henry) celebrated Ken’s rise from the “vapid clotheshorse” model of ”pretty boy emptiness” to the quintessential mold of an American Man (obesity rates & failure to load the dishwasher sold separately). All this patriotic talk of what it means to be a prime piece of U.S.A Beef Cake got me thinking.
Finally! Finally a toy that can teach my baby boy how to be a real man! While fretting over his ability to responsibly purchase groceries in 18 years, I overlooked the true lessons my kid should be learning. The old-but-kind-of-improved Ken doll is the perfect educational tool for the almost, nearly, in a decade plus some, young man. From “vapid clotheshorse” to vapid clotheshorse with a knack for running drills on the football field, the new-ish Ken is the only way to prepare my boy for manhood!
For the low, low, price of $29.99, your baby can READ social status and evaluate which female partner is most likely to support him financially!
Finances involve numbers so your baby is also learning MATH!
To graduate from boy to Kept Man, your baby must dress to impress by coordinating ensembles to please The Arm To Which He is Candy. Ken’s soulless quest to please Barbie with well hemmed pants and proper hue choices teaches your baby about SYMMETRY and COLORS!
Baby can’t talk? No problem! For $59.99 your baby can press a button made to resemble a backbone on the Ken Talks A Lot doll. Within days your baby will SPEAK advanced words like “Charge it”,”Whatever You Say Dear”, and ”Check Out These Hammies”.
I know what you’re thinking. Sounds a little like the same, old glorified pool boy of decades past. Not so! After much Web Hosting and laboratory research, our scientists- Hey! So your baby’s kind of learning SCIENCE, too!- have upgraded the standard doll to meet the modern baby’s needs. New lessons to be learned include:
MATURITY: Ken now has a four o’clock shadow and armpit hair.
HEALTH: Jocks rule! Ladies drool…over a finely tweaked set of abs.
GENDER SIGNIFICANCE: Even plastic men need genitalia. Our plant now features an entire Man Parts Division.
MANNERS: You’re welcome I date you. Please do something with that bleach blonde mess you call hair.
So out with the Henry and in with the Ken, I say! Sure, I could spoil my son with lavish books and color charts, but as Mattel so graciously informed me, a baby is much better knowing the true role of a man.
Headbutt, Touchdown, Ask your girl to pay the rent, Smile, Flex, and always, always look pretty.