She was ready to take on the day, when suddenly the dream from last night flooded her brain. The dream started in front of a computer screen playing a game of SIMS. Suddenly she was inside the pixelated SIMS world. Adjusted to the world she was consumed by the need to seek revenge… scanning the alternate reality of the room around her, she began to hoard all the utensils she could.
“But that doesn’t make sense,” she looked up from the drawer to realize she was in the bedroom not the kitchen and the forks weren’t really forks; instead they were panties, pink ones, pink lacy ones, even pink sequin ones!
“These aren’t my panties… But they look like... Why they’re Big Boob Barb’s panties! She was just chatting about how she only buys pink panties on her latest IG live!”
She heard a rustle, her eyes darted to a male figure peeking out from the air laundered linen blankets, BBB was always raving about them too. It’s HIM! It’s Shane! Her hella sexy, tattooed, fashionably dressed husband. She was overcome with desire, shame and envy all at the same time.
“Well what is it going to be?” a voice boomed over the scene. “Fight for what you want? Or flight and ignore yourself?”
That’s when she woke up.
She pulled her apartment door behind her, slid her key into the lock and turned it to the left. The mechanism slid perfectly into place with a little jiggle at the end.
“Wtf... why was I dreaming about Big Boob Barbara? I haven’t even spoken to her in ages?” Walking down the stairs, keys in hand ready to unlock her car.
“Ah, I scrolled through her feed last night before bed… god I need to pick up a book.” BBB, who still uses her awful nick name as her username now creates beautiful necklaces with resin flowers and only large breasted women model for her. It was supposed to be an inclusive movement alongside her business venture. And she was successful, featured in several magazines for crafters; an Etsy success story if you will. Big Boob Barbara was even on an episode of The Dragons Den and won a partnership with Kevin O’Leary.
Walking out the front door and the 5 steps to her car nestled in its usual parking spot, Ashley thought of her past. Her mind traveled through almost 2 decades worth of memories, like the rolodex her grandfather had on his desk, full of names and little notes about who they are so when he spoke business with them he could “treat them like a person” and not a number.
“If only I knew what he meant in grade 6.” Turning the engine on and turning the radio volume low, shame overcame her. “I was the one who started the name Big Boob Barbara.”
Grade 6 was a time where girls were discovering cliques and fashion trends. They were beginning to bud physically and gossip was more interesting than their studies. One particular after school parent-less afternoon, she and two other girls decided to play a prank on Barbara. Barbara was the outcast in their class. She was obsessed with cats and wore this one cat sweater almost daily. The three girls had overheard that Barbara had a crush on the coolest boy in their class, Martin.
Now Martin didn’t care for girls, he was hyper-focused on hockey with aspirations to be a star forward for the Montreal Canadiens. His hair was spiked with way too much gel, and he sucked at math.
It all started with them looking over last year's yearbook when Shelby, the star female athlete and the school’s best dressed, piped up “ew, look at Barbara, she’s so, blegh.”
“Yeah like totally U-G-L-Y” Ashley referenced the one hit wonder by Daphne and Celeste. Ashley and Shelby were best friends, having been since kindergarten. They took to the popular throne naturally. Shelby in the lead and Ashley right behind her, cheering her on. The third girl, Maria joined their duo in grade 4, she kept quiet mostly, but she was pretty and had all of the latest gadgets for them to play with.
They hung out at Shelby’s large 4-bedroom home as her parents were often not home or too busy on the phone to care what the girls did. Whether it was stealing their first beer to share or putting on way too much of Shelby’s older sisters’ makeup.
“Someone should give her a make-over,” Ashley continued.
“Well it’s not going to be me.” Shelby looked to Maria, who silently shook her head no to say “not me either”.
“Let’s prank her! Maybe someone should call and pretend to offer her one!” Ashley was overly enthusiastic thinking this idea would please the Queen Bee.
“No, that’s too lame.” Shelby dismissed the idea.
They returned silently to painting their nails, all listening to Shelby’s wishes for colour choices.
“But someone should call her and tell her Martin wants to take her to the Halloween dance!” Shelby twisted the lid closed on her red polish and began to blow on the wet nails.
“What a brilliant idea Shelby! You should totally do it!”
Maria nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
“I think you should do it Ashley, you should totally pretend to be Martin, you can sound like a dude. Go ahead, say something like a boy!”
Ashley wasn’t sure what to make of the comment. It felt like an insult more than a compliment. But not to upset her BFF, “So Barbara, you wanna go to the dance with me?”
“YES! Let’s do it!” Shelby pulled out her Paul Frank furry address book with it’s matching fuzzy pen. “Here is her number” passing the book to Ashley.
Hesitant, Ashley asked, “What else should I say? Should I just come out and ask?”
“C’mon, Martin’s a gentleman, he’d compliment her or something.” What many didn’t know outside of the girls clique, Shelby had a crush on Martin. She often wrote down Shelby + Martin in her school notebooks. She told Maria and Ashley proudly that Martin said he’d date her when he was a big hockey player in the NHL.
“Like what? Her hair is jet black and shiny like ink?”
Standing up and walking to the window, Shelby laughed, “does she ever wash it!?”
“Ew.” Maria squeaked.
Shelby grabbed her pink see-through phone, the kind where you could see the computer chip and wires that make the phone work. “Here I’ll dial” she grabbed the address book from Ashley’s lap and dialed the seven digits.
A muffed hello could be heard from the receiver. “Is Barbara home?” she pushed the phone to Ashley’s ear, forcing her to reply.
“This is Barbara, who is this?”
Ashley cleared her throat and spoke in her male voice, “hi Barbara this is Martin. I heard you liked me and well, you’ve got big boobs, so will you go to the Halloween dance with me?”
Shelby was laughing loud and Maria giggled quietly looking at Shelby for affirmation. Ashley hung up so they wouldn’t be heard by Barbara.
“Big Boobs?! That’s what you came up with?! Big Boob Barbara and Martin sitting in a tree!” She continued to laugh.
The next day at school, Shelby took the name, Big Boob Barbara to the playground. It spread like wildfire, and it wasn’t even before the end of lunch recess when it reached Barbara’s ears. She knew the girls had called and pretended to be Martin, she looked crushed. So crushed in fact she didn’t come to school for the rest of the week.
Looking back, Ashley realized how cruel they were to Barbara. Pulling into her office’s driveway, she was overcome with the urge to apologize. That name lasted all the way to high school graduation. “It couldn’t have been easy for her to deal with a nickname like that. I’m going to message her on Instagram and apologize before I start work. How awful of us.”
Upon settling at her desk, Ashley pulled up Barbara’s Instagram account, @bigboobedbarb. “I mean it couldn’t have been that bad if she has it as her tag, maybe I should just keep my mouth shut…” Ashley remembered her grandfather’s little notes of details on his rolodex, his wisdom. “Alright I will for you grandpa!”
She began to type, “Hey Barbara, I know it’s been years since we’ve connected and this may seem a little out of the blue, but I wanted to apologize for all the mean things we said and did as kids. It was really cruel and no one deserves that.”
“There. It’s done.” She put her phone down and felt accomplished, turned on her work laptop and was feeling ready to take on the pile of work she had to do. Looking up to the ceiling,“see grandpa, I can be a good human.” She felt a buzz overcome her and the pile of work to do didn’t seem so daunting anymore, she felt confident.
Ashley had barely started her data entry and her phone lit up. Barbara being of strong social media presence had responded within minutes. “Hey hun, thanks for the apology but I managed to turn it around. All the luck to ya!” The last sentence stung, it was her catchphrase. Ashley’s apology high was killed by the fact that she just got catchphrased. Like she was just another follower in the crowd.
“I guess this is how it feels to be insignificant.” she sat there, looking at her small cubicle office, listening to the hum of computers and keyboard key’s being clicked. It wasn’t as glamorous as being a social media and business success story like Barb’s. Nor was she a news anchor like Maria. Even Shelby was off somewhere married in California. Ashley, she was just herself. No sexy tattooed husband waiting for her at home, her bank account barely had enough money to pay for her next tank of gas.
She was failing.
Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash