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At 8:45 I'm out on the curb, waiting for the limo. I don't really own anything pink except for an old nightgown. I have cut off the sleeves and the bottom and tucked it into a denim skirt. I have pink ballet slippers on. I put on cotton candy-pink lipstick. I wonder if she's as beautiful in real life. I wonder if there's food in the limo. I wonder if Barbie eats. The limo arrives, a resplendent vision of pink. The driver gets out and hands me a pink rose. I float into the limo in a dream. The interior is shell-pink leather. There is an array of pink pastries and coffee in front of me. I won't eat any, I tell myself.

Okay, only half a cherry danish. It's really good. I'll have the whole thing. Hmmm. There's strawberry muffins too. They have less calories than danishes. I could have half of one of those too. I didn't have breakfast anyway. I help myself to some pink grapefruit juice. I wonder if Barbie will like me? I tear apart a pink frosted doughnut, put three spoons of sugar in my coffee. I haven't ever met her, and how come she's interested in me? Cause I'm so average? Maybe that's it. I'm different, but enough like everyone else so they'll like me. These doughnuts are really good. I reach for another one, but there aren't any left. I've eaten about three of them. But I always eat when I'm nervous. Besides, I'm meeting Barbie about dieting, so the diet can start when she says. Yeah, she'll be in charge. The limo continues gliding through Manhattan, like a glob of strawberry ice cream sliding off a cone. What's that? Powdered crullers. Yum. I'll only have a half.

The doughnut is stuck in my mouth as we stop. I gaze up at Barbie's office building. The whole thing is glass with hot pink girders. There's a large banner commemorating 40 years of Barbie, and a huge pink granite sculpture, done sometime in the early 70s, which is supposed to represent Barbie's spirit. It has several protrusions, suggestive of Barbie's bust, tastefully sculpted in the manner of fertility dolls. Suckle here, it calls to aspiring women. Where the belly button would be is a fist-sized crater stuck with a multifaceted crystal, which shimmers and sparkles in the early spring sun. The best part is the gossamer wings. They are Lucite, with rosy tips. The limo driver takes my elbow, as I have been staring, head thrown back, mouth agape, at Barbie's effigy for so long. He gently dusts powdered sugar from my mouth. I smile at him. Suddenly I am very frightened. I am going to meet Barbie, and I just ate about 40 pastries. Well, she put them there. Yeah, but I didn't have to eat them all. Maybe it was a test. Barbie is testing my willpower. She'll know I don't have any. Wait a minute, maybe that's good. Anyway, now we're riding up the glass elevator, with a pink and white checkered marble floor.

A plan anyone can follow, she's telling me, a simple exercise video to fun music. The accessories are extra, of course, but if they buy the outfits as well as the video and diet drink, success is pretty much guaranteed.

We get out on the 19th floor. I am ushered into the lobby. Needless to say, it is various shades of pink, and it is mostly fur and leather, with a few tasteful antique lamps and lace throw pillows. Ms. Shell smiles warmly and shows me to Barbie's office. She knocks and the doors float open, like the gates to heaven. Barbie rises from behind her desk, her arms in that trademark crook, that special dimple gracing her cheek. She extends her hand. Hello, she says, I'm Barbie. I reach out my hand. A hint of raspberry jelly doughnut is stuck to it. I surreptitiously lick it off. You're still beautiful, I gasp. I can't believe it! I can't believe I'm meeting you. Barbie stays professional but warm.

Very, very nice to meet you too, Dolly. You didn't tell me you had red hair.

Strawberry blonde, I say. She looks at me a tiny bit critically. I have never been able to wear pink because of my hair. It looks terrible. And I feel terrible, like I'm going to throw up. I ask Barbie where the bathroom is. The puke is all this gross sticky pink goo. Yuk. I hate throwing up.

I guess I have the flu or something, I tell her when I get back. I sit on the pink zebra-print couch next to her. Really? she asks. Me too. Barbie smiles at me conspiratorially. I smile back. I don't know what the secret is, but I really dig Barbie.

Barbie gets up and walks to her desk. She retrieves a cigarette from a silver box. She lights it with a silver lighter engraved with a large "B," inlaid with several hunks of rose quartz. Barbie smokes? I am astounded. I thought she would melt if she tried that. I thought smoking was bad. But if Barbie smokes it must be a cool thing to do. The secret to weight maintenance, she tells me, the secret to staying young forever, is as old as the Romans. But first, I'll tell you about our baby. Baby, I'm wondering, what baby? Is Barbie anatomically correct after all? I wish I had some more doughnuts.

A plan anyone can follow, she's telling me, a simple exercise video to fun music. The accessories are extra, of course, but if they buy the outfits as well as the video and diet drink, success is pretty much guaranteed. And even I could do it? I ask. Barbie eyes me and smiles. If you can do it, Dolly, anyone can. I smile back. I have visions of hot pink spandex, personal trainers, pink Stairmasters. I have to know, Dolly, if you'll do anything for me, and if you can keep a secret, she says. Of course I will, of course I can. I want to be Barbie.

The next several weeks are a whirlwind of activity. Fittings for a Barbie-like wardrobe for me, accessories not included; photo sessions for the "before" (as in "before and after") shot; meetings with Mr. Byle, publicists, animal trainers, hairstylists, paparazzi -- and by the time it's over I am a vision in pink, resplendent and one step closer to a dream come true.

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