Merry and Bright
Merry and Bright

Vodka Yonic features a rotating cast of female writers from around the world sharing stories that are alternately humorous, sobering, intellectual, erotic, religious or painfully personal. You never know what you’ll find here each week, but we hope this potent mix of stories encourages conversation.

Everyone’s entitled to at least one perfect Christmas in their lifetime. Mine came in 1987, at age 6. We didn’t get snow — a rarity in Cleveland, Ohio — and Santa nearly forgot us, but all of my dreams came true. Well, sort of.

I’ve never wanted anything more than I wanted the Barbie Ice Cream Shoppe. Featuring a play set and an ice-cream maker, it was an engineering marvel. The soda parlor’s stools doubled as spoons! The chairs were actually bowls! That mobile push-cart? It made real ice cream!

To be clear, it was the ice cream that appealed to me, not the Barbie. I was never a Barbie type of girl, much as I would’ve liked to be. My older brother — and the band of mud-streaked male cousins, neighbors and misfits who orbited him — dictated our leisure activities. Cops and robbers in the backyard. A pickup baseball game at the park. Snake-hunting in the woods. On the few occasions I was given a Barbie — almost always from a stranger who assumed all little girls like such things — she didn’t survive long. My brother, sadistic as all 10-year-old boys are prone to be, would rip off Barbie’s limbs and heads in record time.

When Christmas arrived, my brother, sister and I crept downstairs, guided through the pitch blackness by the twinkling of colored lights on the tree, to find a conspicuous lack of presents. Not to sound greedy, but was Santa screwing us over this year? Had he tightened the budget? Had we been — God forbid — naughty? A quick mental audit of the year revealed no abnormally bad behavior. Attempting to roller-skate down the stairs that one time, in hindsight, wasn’t the most brilliant of ideas, but it was chiefly instigated by our older cousins. Surely Santa wouldn’t hold us liable for that. And, sure, there was a small issue with some petty theft and false testimony, but in that instance, my brother was the bandit. I had merely lied to protect him — if anything, that was a noble act on my part. Santa should be rewarding me for such a selfless sacrifice! No, something was wrong. Santa must’ve been in a multi-sleigh pileup.

We rushed in to alert the authorities — in this case, our parents — that some unimaginable horror had befallen us all. We clambered on top of them in bed where they had, undoubtedly, just drifted off a couple hours earlier. Once they made the long, slow climb out of slumber and were dragged to the living room, they too looked horrified.

Speaking quickly and stumbling over their words, our parents told us that Santa clearly hadn’t delivered yet — it was, after all, still technically the middle of the night — and if we ran upstairs they’d call him on the telephone. We hauled ass up those stairs as quickly as our footie-pajama-clad legs would take us, trampling each other on the way, and huddled together with bated breath. Our parents must’ve had some serious clout with the big guy, because within seconds, a huge commotion could be heard in the living room below. Minutes after that, we emerged to find a most beautiful of sights: Santa’s massive pile of presents teetered precariously under the tree, sprawling out into the living room as though the gifts themselves might eventually make their way up to our rooms.

I don’t remember anything that was under the tree that year except one gift: the Barbie Ice Cream Shoppe. And once I opened it, it took every ounce of the iron will a 6-year-old girl possesses not to cancel the rest of Christmas so that I could bask in the wonder of this delicious dessert emporium. When we finally got through the rest of those damn presents — take it easy next year, Santa — I ripped open the box and set about constructing this marvelous masterpiece. Once it was ready to be enjoyed, there was one minor hiccup: No (intact) Barbie existed anywhere in our home. Call me old-fashioned or intolerant, but the idea of a headless Barbie and a Skipper torso sharing a milkshake didn’t make my spirits bright. The ribbon-cutting of this dairy palace would need to be enjoyed by others. But who?

The only “dolls” in our house that remained whole belonged to my brother, so that’s where I looked. I contemplated inviting G.I. Joe for a sundae, but I knew a highly decorated war hero might not have interest in trivial matters like dessert. Bo and Luke Duke were given strong consideration, but I knew the Duke boys weren’t sophisticated enough to spend time in the type of luxurious establishment where “shoppe” is flourished with an extravagant P-E at the end.

No, Barbie’s Ice Cream Shoppe was a place for friends to come together. And who better to represent the spirit of the place than bitter rivals who had recently overcome their differences and formed an unprecedented alliance for the common good? That’s how Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage came to share a banana split on Christmas Day atop the neon-pink-and-turquoise stool-spoons of Barbie’s Ice Cream Shoppe. And what a delightful time they had! It wasn’t the most conventional of Christmas mornings, but it will live in family lore as one of the most magical. The holidays are, after all, best enjoyed in the company of others — even the WWF’s Mega Powers.

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