Sunday, February 18, 1996
Ken is more than Barbie's 'boy toy'

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Winter is getting me down. Not to mention Fernald, scummy iced tea and the stadium tax. I'm sick of snow and cold and Tim Mara. Not in that order.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to have some fun. It does not have to be socially redeeming. Just fun.

Enter Dave Cassidy and Ric Tile and the man we all know simply as Ken. Dave and Ric are co-hosts of the 97X Breakfast Club on WOXY-FM (97.7 MHz). Ken is Barbie's boyfriend.

He is, according to Ric, the most loyal boyfriend in the world. ''He has stood by this woman for 35 years, with absolutely no commitment from Barbie.'' Well, I don't know how she could possibly commit to a relationship. She doesn't even know what she wants to be.

One year she's a veterinarian and then she signs on as an airline pilot in roller skates. (I may be wrong about the roller skating part, but I definitely know she spent far too much time parading around our house in her underwear.)

Ken has been by her side during her astronaut phase and the glitter hair disaster, not to mention the Air Force and Dr. Barbie. Some of us remember Bubble Cut Barbie, Big Hair Barbie, Hippie Barbie and Jackie Kennedy Barbie when she wore a pillbox hat but scorned the signature Jackie Kennedy square-toed, low-heeled shoes.

Barbie prefers slut shoes whether she's a physician or a UNICEF ambassador. I think she has high arches and low morals.

In the limelight

Anyway, Ric and Dave say Ken should be rewarded for his patience and ''staying power.'' They have started the first Ken doll fan club. When they called Mattel, the distributor, to explain their plans, Mattel's response was exactly this, according to Ric: ''Just Ken?''

Well, now you see what this guy has had to tolerate all these years, living in the shadow of a successful woman. Although, a lot of successful women blame Barbie for everything from teen-age anorexia to breast implants.

If our fixation on big breasts and lean bodies is from Brainwash Barbie, then I fear that a generation of America's children is going to grow up wanting to look like purple dinosaurs. Worse, they're going to be expecting Ken out there in the dating arena.

Impossible role models

If young girls are getting their information about self-worth from Barbie and Ken, then the future men of America are in terrible trouble. Impressionable girls are going to grow up thinking they can just run around from wonderful career to wonderful career in their underwear and slut shoes and Ken will always be there to wax the Dream Car and vacuum the Dream House.

This guy has never strayed. Not only has he followed Barbie around like a dog for 35 years, but he never opens his mouth and is immediately available as an escort whenever she decides to have a Dream Date. You notice that there has never been a Golfing Ken or an ESPN Ken or a Great Big Beergut Ken or a Male Pattern Baldness Ken.

Shaving Fun Ken's beard and moustache grows back just five minutes after it's removed. I think you'll agree that this indicates an unbelievable testosterone level.

So far, Ric says, more than 20 people have signed up as members of the official Charter Ken Fan Club. You can join by writing WOXY-FM, 5120 College Corner Pike, Oxford, Ohio 45056 or call l-513-863-5665. There is no initiation fee and you will become eligible to win Baywatch Ken, complete with his own wave-runner, float, visor, Frisbee and boombox.

I'm signing up. I don't think Ken and Barbie bear responsibility for the state of society. There never was a Dropout Barbie or a Crack-Head Ken. They're just dolls. Just for fun.

There are plenty of worse things.

Laura Pulfer's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU-FM (91.7 MHz) and as a regular commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.