We interrupt the story of our Christmas in the Bay Area to bring you a short story about my old friend Conan the barbarian.
When my daughter Jessica was about 5 or 6, she had a Christmas where she got a lot of gifts that seemed a little too bent on defining her and her role in society… by which I mean she got a toy vacuum cleaner, an easy-bake oven, some dolls, some frilly dresses, and a little plastic kitchen where she could play housewife. The good news is that many of these gifts she got before Christmas because of our yearly trips to spend the holiday with my family in the Bay Area. So I had time to counteract all this gender-stereotyping nonsense.
To do this, I got her a Conan the barbarian action figure.
This toy was a big hit with her. Conan used to date a lot of her Barbie dolls when he wasn’t being played with. In fact, he is still around the house somewhere… One time a few years back when Mollie was smaller, my wife came home to find about 90 naked Barbie dolls standing on their heads on our coffee table, with Conan in the middle, dressed only in his little plastic furry shorts, flexing his muscles and looking very proud of himself… Hey, don’t judge me… Barbie dolls just stand on their heads better when they are naked.
But back to the original story. Conan had a cord with a loop coming out of his back. When you pulled the cord, his arm would flail up and down. His right hand was clenched around an open hole so that you could stick his little plastic battle-axe in his hand, and he would chop away at imaginary enemies.
There was one problem… (You knew there was going to be a problem, didn’t you?)… When Conan wasn’t holding his battle-axe and you pulled the string, he looked an awful lot like he was… ummmm… doing unto himself before he did unto others… if you catch my drift. No? Too subtle? It looked like he was indulging in a little private recreational time… get it? Good.
Oh man, all I can say is that when Jess played with that little barbarian without the axe, it always caused some embarrassing pauses in the adult conversation going on around her. And it was almost impossible for the men not to laugh and the ladies not to blush.
Is it any wonder that I have such a soft spot for that Conan guy?
Just thought I would share that. Remind me to post a picture of that action figure sometime… or a little video… Ha!