Monday. Late afternoon. Rush hour. And the stoplight
at the busiest intersection on this street isn’t working.
A line of cars winds across the bridge, over the highway,
and down the hill past Lowe’s, while a man in a lime
green vest directs traffic with a small paddle sign:
STOP in red on one side, SLOW in green on the other.
Time passes. We’re still inching forward at a slug’s
pace. I’m not to the broken stoplight yet. Not even close.
Chester and I are on our way home from the vet, and
now this five-minute trip has become a thirty-minute
crawl. “Chester is your Barbie doll,” my best friend
likes to say. She’s teasing, of course, but it’s true.
I loved my Barbie dolls. My favorite had soft rubbery
skin, bendable legs, and long, silky, ash blonde hair.
I wanted hair like that. I wanted a figure like that.
I wanted to be Barbie. I could spend hours with my
girlfriends, all of us wanting to be Barbie, all of us
dressing up our Barbie dolls for exciting adventures.
Barbie’s life was always perfect. And now there’s
Chester. A cat docile enough for me to dress him in
cute little dog outfits from PetSmart. And I do. Often.
And he never seems to mind, sweet soul that he is.
Again, the man in the lime green vest flips his sign
from STOP to SLOW. Again, the line of cars creeps
forward. Barbie had a car. A convertible. A hot pink
Austin-Healey. Glamorous, perfect, ash blonde
Barbie. Flying down the street at top speed in her
sporty roadster. No STOP or SLOW for Barbie. No.
She never had to wait in traffic like this. No, never.
Sometimes I still wish I could be Barbie.
Laura Stamps is the author of several poetry books, including IN THE GARDEN, CAT DAZE, and TUNING OUT. Her book THE YEAR OF THE CAT won the Muses Prize. She is also the recipient of 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. You can find her every day on Twitter at @LauraStamps16.