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I am in Barbie's office again. Barb, I say, when does the diet start? We are both smoking pink cigarettes. Very soon, she assures me, very soon. Your hair looks very nice, she says. I pat my blonde waves. Thank you, I say. But it's not as nice as yours. She smiles demurely. Certainly it is. It's very natural. Would you like something to eat? In front of me, on the Lucite coffee table with lion's feet, is a huge array of delicious goodies. Caviar on toast points, pastries, huge globby strawberry shortcakes, ambrosia salad, baba au rhum, trifle, smoked salmon, deviled eggs, club sandwiches with three kinds of cheese, macaroons, sugar cookies, pink lemonade, watermelon, tuna melts, pastrami hot and cold. I'm just going to have a nibble myself, Barbie informs me. She picks up a cookie. Just one, she smiles. Her smile is maniacal. Barbie is going to eat. I have never, in all these glamorous weeks, seen Barbie eat. She gulps down her cookie. They are the frosted animal cracker variety. I like these, she says, because they are mostly pink. Barbie wolfs down four more. I have some too. Yes, very tasty, I tell her, but Barbie, aren't cookies fattening? Barbie just laughs her musical laugh that I love so much. Making Barbie laugh is not easy. Wait a minute, maybe she's laughing at me? Just what is that darn secret anyway.

Dolly, she urges, sliding closer until I smell her rosy perfume, have another one, have another one, have another one. I eat cookies until the platter is empty. Barbie chugs ginger ale, Barbie scarfs strawberry shortcake. I dig into the ambrosia, sucking on every marshmallow. Barbie is in the smoked salmon, grease on her chin, eyes blazing. I take her lead and attack the deviled eggs, then the pastrami. I lean back and take a deep breath. Barbie says, Dolly, Dolly, don't stop, oh, don't stop, you want more ... she is heavily into the club sandwiches and another liter of soda.

I take her lead again, but I am so full I could throw up. I watch in admiration, then horror as she digs into a huge honey-roasted ham, complete with cloves stuck in it, jamming fistful after fistful into her mouth. Barbie laughs, Barbie groans, her head tossed back in sheer delight, her mouth open, with little bits of food stuck to it. Barbie catches sight of me staring in horror. She smiles slyly. Here Dolly, drink this. She hands me a frothy pink drink that resembles an ice cream soda. In fact, it tastes like an ice cream soda. Barbie is having one too. I wonder if I could get the recipe. She has collected herself and is back to the normal Barbie I know. I settle back and try to relax. The diet will start soon, I tell myself. This is just to ... I have to throw up. Purge, purge, purge. I find myself zombie-like, heading for the ladies' room. Barbie's tinkling laugh ushers me out the door. I am in the bathroom. I am in the stall. I am shutting the door. I am leaning over the toilet. I am sticking a manicured nail (Passion Fruit Swirl) down my throat. I am vomiting an awful tornado of pink food. I am shaking. I am sweating. My stomach muscles cramp as wave after wave of retching seizes me. The gagging slows down. I spit over and over. I am breathing evenly now. I am feeling better. In fact, I have never felt so good, so powerful. I am in control. So, says Barbie, do you think the program will work?

Barbie, with her head in her hands, slouches just a little. She crosses her legs and feels an unfamiliar tug around her hips. They appear to be expanding.

Several months later, I have lost at least 20 pounds. The products are in full swing and I star in a million commercials. A shot of me "before" flashes on the television screen. Mournful music plays as I sit on a park bench, watching skinny girls play volleyball, flirt and cavort. They have Barbie breasts and Barbie thighs and Barbie hair and Barbie's style. I do not. A thought bubble appears over my head. In it are the words, "What is their secret?" Next scene, "after." Me, leading the volleyball game, running down a beach in a teeny bikini, then lovingly gazing at myself in a tide pool. Camera zooms in on my head. I look up. Girls, I say, I have a secret. Barbie's Diet Drink and Exercise Video, accessories not included, are shown. The voice-over says, "Only $25 to make your dreams come true. If Dolly did it, so can you." Fade out.

The product is a smashing success. Billions of girls across the country buy the drink. They buy the videos. They buy the accessories. I am a heroine to a generation of girls, ages 9 through 15.

Barbie is having drinks with Mr. Byle. Barbie, he burps, you got some head on your shoulders, some beautiful, smart head. That Dolly, hah! How did you know she'd be so great for this? Some head. I tell you, if my wife had one-tenth of your head. Barbie smiles politely, stirs her champagne cocktail. One-tenth, Barbie thinks, and she never would have married you. He guffaws over his bourbon, snickers into the peanuts. Some product, Barbie, you are making millions. No, billions. So many fat little rich lazy girls who want to be you. Barbie is overcome with ennui. Who am I, she thinks? Who is Barbie, really? Who will ever know? Who will love me for me? Barbie, with her head in her hands, slouches just a little. She crosses her legs and feels an unfamiliar tug around her hips. They appear to be expanding. Her clothes are straining at the seams. She must leave at once. Mr. Byle reaches over and puts his large side-of-beef arm around Barbie's shoulders. The other hand explores the gentle pleats her magenta linen skirt makes around her knees. My wife, I tell you, he grunts, so close to her ear she smells yesterday's tuna sandwich on his breath, she's nothing like you, Barbie. He seizes her and she springs from his grasp, indignant and splitting a seam. She opens her mouth to admonish him, but decides against it. She will sue him instead. Barbie will gain the rights to the entire Secret Wonder product line and never have to deal with Mr. Byle again. Barbie storms from the bar.

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