Ang Tunay Na Lalaki Meets Barbie At The Shark Bar
A Poem by Nick Carbó
on Mulberry and Spring on a rainy night.
Her head sticks out of some woman's tote bag
placed on top of the bar, she winks
at Ang Tunay na Lalaki. He looks at his gin and tonic,
looks back at the doll and hears her tiny voice
even though her lips aren't moving. "Hi there,
big guy. I was made in the Philippines. You look
like you were made there too." He responds
just to humor himself, "Where, at the Subic Bay
manufacturing plants? Did you enjoy
being made by exploited laborers?" Barbie crawls
onto the sticky bar and sits herself on the edge
crossing her legs. "I remember those delicate fingers
expertly sewing the hairs to my head. Those women
were so nice to me." She bends at her waist
to let her hair down and dramatically lifts her head up
so her blond locks turn into a glamorous puff,
"See, they did a good job. You must admit."
"You're incorrigible," he exhales a cloud of smoke
after lighting up a cigarette, "And you're
all plastic, petroleum based plastic."
Barbie places her palms against her face
and begins to sob. Ang Tunay na Lalaki sticks out
his middle finger, strokes the back of her head,
"Now, now, doll. First time anyone ever told
you the truth?" Barbie lifts her left arm
to swipe away his finger, "My name's Barbie!
Not Doll, Sweetie, Honey, or Dolly. It's Barbie!"
Ang Tunay na Lalaki sips his gin,
"Look, Barbie. You have the perfect life,
you're the world's best-selling doll
and millions of little girls are buying you dresses.
Even the top fashion designers design
outfits for you." Barbie straightens her back
as if she had a spine, places
her hands on her lap, "But you don't know
how hard it is to be beautiful all the time. See,
you made my mascara run." He takes a napkin,
dips it into his drink, proceeds to wipe off
the small black streaks on her cheeks, "It's acrylic,
a water based paint." He reaches into his pocket
for a ball-point pen, draws rich eye lashes
around her eyes. Barbie slides over to a shot glass,
stares at her reflection, "Hey, you're good
at this. Have you ever considered a career
in make-up? I could recommend you
to our designers, you know."
Suddenly a woman's human hand plucks
Barbie off the bar, stuffing her
back into a tote bag. His eyes follow
the tote bag out the door. All he can see
is a puff of blond hair and a stiff arm
swaying back and forth like a metronome.
Reprinted by permission of Nick Carbó