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17 May 2017 @ 11:59 pm
LJ Idol Season Ten: "How The Other Half Lives"  
How The Other Half Lives
idol season ten | week 18 | 1308 words
Location, Location, Location (an intersection with rayaso. Please read his story first!)

x-x-x-x-x

Life as a perpetual love-interest had always been a little strange, but now things had crossed over into a new level of bizarre for Malibu Ken.

Ken had punched a troll.

It wasn't one of those bridge-lurking types who liked to terrorize billy goats, but the troll had definitely had it coming. That wasn't an excuse, it was just the truth, though it didn't really change anything.

For days, Ken had felt as if he were being watched—not all the time, but often enough that he'd started looking over his shoulder. Then one night, he had slipped away to a motel for a secret tryst, and just as things were becoming intimate, he'd heard something outside the window. When he'd gone over to check, he'd come face to face with some little snub-nosed freak sporting crazy hair and spying on him through a camera lens.

Anyone who couldn't scramble out the door in time to pop a perv like that on the snout wasn't worthy of being called a man. Ken—and his fist—obviously made the grade.

Not all of Ken's qualities were quite that impressive. For the last couple of months, he'd been having an affair. It hadn't always been that way—he'd been faithful to Barbie for years, even through what seemed like decades of dating before they finally got married. But while he tried to be a hopeful person, he'd known for a while that he and Barbie were on the rocks. Eventually, his patience just ran out.

The trouble really started a few years into the marriage, after G.I. Joe showed up and Barbie started throwing Joe in Ken's face again and again. Every time Joe came home on leave, Barbie left Ken sitting at home waxing his surfboard while she rode around in Joe's jeep and gazed at him adoringly.

Despite all of the demands Barbie made on Ken, she was far less considerate when it came to his feelings. After a few rounds of coping with the Joe and Barbie sideshow, Ken began to really resent the situation.

He also started to have some idea of why Barbie found Joe so attractive.

Joe was so hyper-masculine as to be a stereotype, the idealized version of a manly man from a certain era, which translated to being strong, capable, and ruggedly good-looking. No complaints there. Better still, Joe was a man of action. He liked the outdoors, he liked doing things. Ken and Joe were from different worlds, but both of them preferred things like sports, road trips, and hiking to things like shopping malls and fashion shows.

Both of them had seen enough designer purses and expensive high-heeled shoes to last a lifetime.

One day, Ken ran into G.I. Joe at a baseball game. Ken was working up to punching Joe in the face when he realized that Joe had no idea Ken was anything other than Barbie's pool boy, or even that Barbie was married.

They went out for a beer instead.

Joe broke things off with Barbie that night, but he and Ken got together from time to time. It was all fairly low-key until the night they got drunk at Joe's place and wound up in bed together. Ken was okay with that. Joe was a "Don't ask, don't tell" kind of guy—pretty much as a life philosophy, Joe being a man of few words (so different from Barbie, who would talk forever once you pulled her cord). Two days later they seemed to be dating, which apparently was typical for Joe's communication style.

Ken was still trying to figure out how to break the news to Barbie when the troll incident at the motel happened.

Oddly enough, he decided afterwards, that encounter brought him a moment of clarity. There was the humiliation—the troll, the fact that Ken was running around outside a motel in his underwear, the potentially compromising photographs, and again mostly the troll—and there was the anger. Ken knew that sneaking around with Joe wasn't honorable, but at the same time, he had never put some sleazy troll P.I. on Barbie's tail when she was off with Joe.

And it had all been such an uphill battle for so long.

He'd forgiven the way Barbie often seemed more interested in his cousins, Business-Suit Ken and Doctor Ken. He'd weathered the years waiting to get married while Barbie tossed around fantasies for her Dream Wedding—including the themed ideas, like Cinderella and Rapunzel.

He'd abandoned an entire room of the house to Barbie's shoe collection and various outfits.

They had never had children, which seemed like a blessing now. He'd always thought there would be more time, and he wasn't sure Barbie was really interested enough in him to make it through the long haul. She'd liked the idea of him, most of the time, and she'd really liked his small trust fund and the gigantic Malibu Beach House he'd inherited from his uncle.

But actual Ken—Malibu Ken, the beach-loving surfer—him, not so much.

He'd always thought she could probably do better than him, and he'd been afraid of losing her for so many years that nearly paralyzed him. But now it was clear he was just holding her back, even if she didn't see it that way. And he was tired of feeling like her second choice among so many other possibilities.

A few weeks later, divorce was in the works and Barbie had moved out of the Beach House. Ken had mounted an enormous flat-screen TV in the living room. He'd always wanted one, but Barbie had pushed to spend the money on a canopy bed instead, one with pink curtains to match the rest of the bedroom.

The room that formerly held her shoes and clothing had been given over to G.I. Joe's gun collection. That was a little weird, but Ken was used to weird. He'd compromised before.

There was still that stupid troll and his pictures to deal with, and meetings with Barbie's lawyer. Ken hoped it wouldn't turn out too bad. All he really wanted was the beach house and his surfboards. Barbie could have the rest, especially her shoes and pink furniture and whatever was in all those boxes up in the attic. Soon, she'd be out of the house for good, and Ken could start decorating it the way he wanted.

His surfboard collection was going to look awesome lined up against the living room wall.

As for him and Joe, he didn't know how long that would last, but it seemed to be working pretty well for the moment. Joe had gotten him hooked on paintball wars, and Ken was going to teach Joe to surf over the summer.

If he could just get Joe to stop wearing his camo pants to the beach, Ken felt like the two of them might have half a chance.

pistolGI_Joe

G.I. Joe



* * * * *


Jenny looked at all of the old toys scattered around her and sighed. “Not even Barbie could make a happy ending out of this." Getting divorced was bad enough, but losing her husband to a man? She'd never seen it coming, and now she was losing the house as well.

She picked up the toys and put them slowly back into their boxes. This wasn't the life she had planned for them either.

As she wrapped him up in tissue paper, the troll's eyes seemed to wink at her—a little glint of the old mischief shining through.

"I'm not dead yet," she realized. All of those things she still wanted might not happen the way she'd planned, but that didn't mean they wouldn't happen at all.

As long as she stayed flexible and hung on to hope, there was still time for some of those dreams to come true.



--/--

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cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on May 19th, 2017 02:01 am (UTC)
i wasn't expecting ken to be cheating on barbie with another guy! as surprises go, it was a fun one. i love that you take all the trappings of the toys seriously - gi joe always wearing his camo pants, all barbie's shoes and clothes, ken's "cousins", barbie's fantasies and wedding themes - and i especially like the way barbie and ken's story reflects jenny's, the way that ken's story could be her ex-husband's, and her story could be barbie's, or barbie's story could be hers.

Edited at 2017-05-19 02:01 am (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2017 11:49 pm (UTC)
gi joe always wearing his camo pants
He has another pair that's khaki, but you know it would be one or the other. Joe takes things very seriously.

The shoes and all... that is the whole Barbie universe right there. You just know she's a shoe queen. And my judgmental side says that probably makes her tough marriage material, too.

Glad you enjoyed this-- both layers of it!
kschlotwrites: pic#126840869kschlotwrites on May 21st, 2017 01:58 pm (UTC)

I was kinda thinking he would be cheating with the Elf on the Shelf! lol

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 06:44 am (UTC)
The Elf on the Shelf is after my time, so the most I've seen of it is a scary parody in a Simpsons episode-- the "Gnome in the Home" that someone put in the baby's room and told her would be watching her all through Christmas. Y-i-i-i-k-e-s. He was responsible for a lot of baby nightmares after that. :O
atlaitrimatlaitrim on May 19th, 2017 03:14 am (UTC)
great.....!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 21st, 2017 07:33 am (UTC)
Thank you!
i_17bingo: toileti_17bingo on May 19th, 2017 02:39 pm (UTC)
What a turnaround from rayaso's entry! I hadn't been expecting to side with Ken, but poor guy. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that Barbie is a primadonna.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 21st, 2017 07:37 am (UTC)
Barbie's obsession with shoes and clothes should be an indication of the me-me-me-ness, though I'm sure she and Ken hoped for better when all of this started out.

This is so often how relationships work, though, when things fall apart. Each person sees their side differently from how the other would see it, and tends to slant toward their own bias.
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatre: pic#126855595bleodswean on May 19th, 2017 08:52 pm (UTC)
Great ending to a troubled romance! I LOVE that Jenny is picking herself right back up. Nice way to end this. This is a great intersection, your styles are a perfect marriage!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 21st, 2017 07:41 am (UTC)
I have the same hopes for Jenny as Ken does for Barbie. This is not the end for her, and she might wind up having children through adoption or other means. She is more than just that ended marriage!
dmousey: owldmousey on May 19th, 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
The two of you have such incredible senses of humor and imagination, and a gift for sharing the absurdity with us! Thank you for making me laugh. (Ps. My hubs says he always knew GI Joe was gay!) Hugs and peace~~~
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 06:45 am (UTC)
Hahahaha to your husband! He probably thinks G.I. Joe was waaaay over compensating all that time. :)
Hillaryxlovebecomesher on May 20th, 2017 03:33 pm (UTC)
I could completely visualize this in my head and I just have a big smile on my face after reading this :D You have such a talent for humor!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 06:45 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! And I'm so pleased this made you smile. :)
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Panda - Light Saberroina_arwen on May 20th, 2017 08:37 pm (UTC)
This was a fun take on the topics! I've always suspected Ken as being a bit on the flexible side, lol!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 06:46 am (UTC)
I think of Malibu Ken as being more flexible that the other Kens, in that he always seemed much more of a, "Hey, whatever" kind of guy.

Even when the "whatever" was a roomful of shoes or guns. :O

Thanks for reading!
Teo Says: Smiling Girleternal_ot on May 21st, 2017 07:43 am (UTC)
Ha! That was a neat twist which I wouldn't have predicted. This made for a great intersection and I loved how you ended it with hopeful Jenny. A great read!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 06:49 am (UTC)
This is one of the fun parts of an intersection-- rayaso didn't expect things to end on a hopeful note for Jenny, but Ken's view of Barbie had migrated that way in mine, and I could not leave Jenny thinking that all her options were gone. They weren't. There were still so many possibilities for her.
kschlotwrites: pic#126840869kschlotwrites on May 21st, 2017 01:57 pm (UTC)

Maybe Ken wasn't a sleazeball like I commented on rayoso's entry. Not that I condone his cheating, of course.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 06:57 am (UTC)
No, I don't condone the cheating either. It's clear he thinks that Barbie was cheating earlier, and he's just kind of given up on her. It seems they were both better off without each other. That marriage was doomed before it began.
Rebeccabeeker121 on May 21st, 2017 04:48 pm (UTC)
Aw, you managed to humanize Ken which is no mean feat - I'm not sure Mattel ever pulled that off. I'm picturing Jenny in the attic with all of the toys out acting out the story not sure where it was going to go either. Hopefully she finds someone new who enjoys her collection.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 05:15 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure Mattel ever pulled that off.
Thank you! I had his character described as "Ken the Boyfriend" in an earlier draft (before rayaso married Ken and Barbie), and that seemed to pretty much be his total definition. He is really just another one of Barbie's "accessories."

I'm hoping Jenny finds someone better suited to her in the future, and that the next go-around has a happier outcome. :)
Direst Rylryl on May 21st, 2017 06:57 pm (UTC)
So Malibu Ken was Earring Magic Ken the whole time! I knew it!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 05:16 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha! Or he just hadn't met anyone yet who made him see that there was a whole 'nother school of fish in the sea than he realized. :D
Shadow Wolf Byrdshadowwolf13 on May 22nd, 2017 02:02 am (UTC)
Best laugh all day!!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you got a kick out of this. :)
favoritebeanfavoritebean on May 22nd, 2017 08:21 am (UTC)
I'm relieved to see that you included a post script about Jenny. I was worried that she was slated to never be mentioned again.

That said, I kind of want to see Joe/Ken's redecorated Malibu Beach House now.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 05:18 pm (UTC)
I gave her a nicer ending than rayaso envisioned, because I felt she deserved a chance with a better "fit" than her husband had been.

I would bet that, in addition to the surfboards and the gun room, that beer posters feature heavily in Ken's decorating scheme. ;)
Ink Well: Feetpenpusher on May 22nd, 2017 01:54 pm (UTC)
I must admit that this tale, coming from the de facto Barbie and Ken of LJ Idol, was a little disturbing! But you pulled it off very nicely!

I'm really stunned that anyone would be shocked by this ending, though! Even though we never actually stated it as kids, we all basically knew Ken and G.I. Joe and their actions, and who they spent their quality time with, so...

Barbie has foot issues, though! her feet are stuck in that "high heel" position. She can't wear flip-flops or sandals, that's for sure! I think that, more than anything, helped create her shoe obsession.

Another fun one!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
Haha-- thank goodness this isn't a reflection of our marriage!

I think Malibu Ken, especially, would be more interested in outdoorsy stuff and far less ambitious about... work... than the other Kens, so this seems a good fit for him.

Did you know that, at least when I was young, one of the things you could get for Barbie was a "stand" to mount her on (it clipped to her ankles), because otherwise she could never stand up?

OTOH, when my kids were little I used to tell them not to make "Ken feet" when I was trying to dress them, because I couldn't get their pants over that. And they both knew exactly what that meant. ;)
marlawentmadmarlawentmad on May 22nd, 2017 04:42 pm (UTC)

Impossibly delightful!

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D
Murielle: Scrunchedmurielle on May 22nd, 2017 06:31 pm (UTC)
This such an adorable story, and it brought back so many memories. Oh the things we could make those GI Joes do to our Chrissy (Brtiian's answer to Barbie) dolls.

Poor Ken. He never stood a chance against Joe. I hope he gets his surf board sitting room.

Sad, but delightful story. Off to read your partner's entry. Brava!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2017 09:53 pm (UTC)
This probably would make more sense reading rayaso's entry first, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

So, Britain has G.I. Joe but not Barbie? I wonder how popular he was in the nations that were part of the Allied bloc in WWII?
flipflop_divaflipflop_diva on May 22nd, 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
That was a fun twist to Ken's story (and Jenny's)! I love it! And I'm glad we got an end for Jenny. I hope she gets her happy ending some day.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2017 05:23 pm (UTC)
I gave Jenny a happier ending than the one rayaso had thought of, but he was right in feeling that her story-line needed to come back and finish, too.

So many of us have the same dreams for how our marriages and families will turn out, and sometimes those dreams come true in a slightly different way. I hope hers will too.