The thing about Barbie is that she's not as dumb as she looks.
She's not dumb but she's insanely pretty and that's what people see first so they don't bother to look beneath it. And while Teresa doesn't think that she's exactly unattractive, she knows that she's not as pretty as Barbie so she isn't really surprised when everyone pays more attention to Barbie than to her.
She's not surprised when Ken asks Barbie to dinner and not her. And she's not surprised when Kira and Midge ask Barbie to the movies on Girl's Night Out but forget to ask her. And she's not surprised that, last Christmas, Christie completely forgot to get her a gift.
She's not surprised when people aren't interested in her because she's used to coming in second, she's used to not being as important as Barbie.
What is surprising though is that while everyone else is bending over backward and making asses of themselves for Barbie's attention, Barbie is only focused on her. Barbie wants to do things with her and spend time with her and sometimes it's irritating. Because it feels like pity. And it makes her want to scream because she doesn't need someone to pity her, she doesn't need a playmate to feel like she's not entirely worthless. But then, just when she thinks she's had enough, Barbie looks over, smiling that smile, and she feels her stomach tighten in a way that makes it hard to remember why she was mad in the first place.
So they do things together. Hang out at Barbie's house or drive around in her completely rad car, they go window shopping or down to the beach or to the movies. They hit concerts sometimes, when the bands aren't totally awful. And it's all great, being Barbie's friend is great. There's really no one cooler or smarter or prettier in the world and it's great.
But sometimes she looks over, catches a glimpse of the way Barbie's hair will fall in her face or the way the light will make her too blue eyes even bluer, and she thinks that there's still something else. Something else that she wants. And she doesn't know what it could possibly be because Barbie is her best friend and what else is there?
And then Barbie and Ken break up. And Teresa has to hear the news from Christie and she's angry about that but she's also worried about Barbie so she goes over to Barbie's house, stopping by the supermarket on her way and grabbing a pint of Ben & Jerry's just in case. She lets herself in the back door and she wanders through the quiet house, more than a little terrified that she's going to find Barbie sobbing somewhere at any second. Not really sure what she'll do if she does because she's never, ever seen Barbie cry -- can't even imagine what it would be like because Barbie is so happy all the time. And she feels a little guilty at how relieved she is when she finds Barbie sprawled across her bed reading a book and not even the least bit teary-eyed.
She doesn't really know what to say when Barbie looks up and smiles at her, pats a space beside her on the bed. She walks over, sitting down carefully in an effort not to muss the perfect pink and lace blankets that Barbie's so fond of, and just doesn't say anything. Because now she feels a little silly, she doesn't know why but she does. She rolls the carton of ice cream between her hands until her fingers get stiff and frozen from the cold.
Barbie's hand on her shoulder makes her flinch and she feels like blushing when Barbie asks what's wrong. She says 'nothing' and tries her best to stare a hole through the carpet. But Barbie is smart and when Barbie sighs and sits up and asks if it's about Ken, Teresa starts to ramble. Saying 'I brought this ice cream for you but now I just feel stupid because you're not even sad' and 'I wish you'd told me' and 'I don't know how you couldn't be sad because I would be destroyed.' And Barbie just looks at her a minute, smiling her brilliant, white-toothed smile and says that she's not upset because there's nothing to be sad about.
And Teresa just stares because it's a crazy thing to say, because Barbie and Ken have been dating for years and that should mean something. But apparently it doesn't. And she feels ridiculous and wants to look away -- look down at the floor or out the window or anywhere that isn't Barbie's face -- but she can't.
And she feels light-headed and it's like there's something that she's almost got, like there's something in the back of her head that's finally almost making sense but it's got to fight through all the things that don't make sense before it can be realized. And then Barbie is leaning in just barely, saying that it's better this way and kissing her.
Distantly she hears Barbie's book fall to the floor and she feels the carton of ice cream slip out of her fingers and she's twisting just enough to push her half-frozen fingers into Barbie's hair and pulling her just that much closer. Because this is it. This is the thing that she wanted that she didn't even have a name for. Barbie's mouth pressed against hers and her fingers in Barbie's hair and Barbie's hand on her cheek -- this is it exactly.
And when Barbie pulls back smiling brilliantly, Teresa doesn't even have to ask how she knew. Doesn't have to ask because that's the thing about Barbie, she's a lot smarter than she looks.