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To Pulitzer or Not to Pulitzer, ‘Tis Barbie’s Question…

Barbie’s eagle eyes on the Prize…

Anyone who has been within sniffing distance of me since the ’70s knows that to win the Pulitzer Prize has been a lifelong goal (it doesn’t matter that I’m Canadian. I’ve always had a hankering to achieve the impossible).

I think I was influenced by Woodward and Bernstein at The Washington Post or by Nelle Harper Lee for To Kill a Mockingbird, 

Me with my Pulitzers…


or maybe by some childhood delusion that if a person achieved that award, they had finally reached the smarty-pants mountain top. And for as long as I can remember, brains attracted me far more than beauty. Anyone can be beautiful, but it takes hard work to be brilliant, mused my 6-year-old mind.

When Barbie dolls ruled my life, even my Barbie had an illustrious career beyond simply appearing at… 

“Thank goodness we got here on time, Ken. You take FOREVER to get ready.” “Well, if you were faster at ironing my pants and applying my cuff links.”

black tie galas with Ken, and it wasn’t long before she won the Pulitzer for her investigative reporting into the manufacture of fake Barbie dolls by disreputable doll companies who tried, but failed, to needle their way into Mattel’s beautiful monopoly.

It was a dangerous assignment.
G.I. Joe was her bodyguard.

But in the end, Barbie got the goods, and now she was flying to Paris to get Givenchy to custom create the perfect gown for the…

Man, Barbie cleans up good!

Pulitzer Prize awards ceremony.

Barbie’s life, as I knew it, was locked and loaded for boundless success.

My Ken doll has this exact same outfit. Hey, at least I’m chuffed.
In the end, Ken became a stay at home dad while Barbie ruled the world.  

I simply saw nothing wrong with this picture… until I watched my mom cater to my dad’s every whim. Okay, there was something wrong. My Mom worked so very hard in business but she never achieved Barbie’s heights. All her life, regardless of the mountain of expertise attained in her field, my mom was considered a second class corporate citizen compared to her male counterparts.

The other night, some documentary on something erudite mentioned the Pulitzer being won, but this time I did not sigh nor silently ruminate. Instead, and for the first time in my life, I asked myself, “What, truly, would change if you won this award?”

 I honestly had no good answer.

Sure, more book sales as a literary novelist, more speaking engagements, and more autographs signed, but all those are achievable without that award. With it, I’d still be me, head to the grindstone fighting to achieve, but with one more object in my office to dust.

It’s clear now, that early on, I wanted people to think of me as worthy of taking up space on this planet. In my youth, it was still very much a man’s world, and all I knew was that I wanted membership in their club. Pretty girls were liked but not taken seriously, and really the latter was what I wanted — for others to see that my ideas had worth just as much as any man’s. Secretly, I think I wanted to be my father and have the respect he garnered from others, but without me having to wear a police uniform or don a man’s business suit.

It’s obvious that I had decided that if reporters at The Washington Post could bring down the President of the United States with their words, and in so doing achieve the Pulitzer for their paper, my own eye for that prize would be the key to achieve entrée into that same rarefied, male space. The reaction from the men around me would be like this…

“Oh, you have a Pulitzer, Miss? Well, that’s great! Nuff said. You are IN. Come with us guys to The Plaza for a liquid lunch and we will talk about smart stuff!”

All those mad men looking at me… I think they’re jealous of my Pulitzer.

Or something along those lines…

Women in the ’60s and ’70s were slowly breaking into that 9 to 5 man cave but I well remember the furor when those same women decided to shed the suit dress and instead dare to wear pantsuits to the office. 

You’d think the universe had imploded. 

Of course, it was easily understandable, for I also remember my parents’ male friends chuckling about secretaries and the advent of the miniskirt. At my wee age, their glee didn’t quite make sense, but I knew by the twinkle in their eyes they were up to no good. Such male reactions in the corporate world wouldn’t hold any best promise for those women and their future careers.

Yes, in retrospect, I think the Pulitzer was for me an ideal more than an achievement.

Me writing nowadays… without the Pulitzer… On the shelf where my Pulitzer would have sat, I've placed my bobblehead Kennedy doll.

Some 49 years on, and with my own and society’s evolution, I’m not entirely sure I need that hunk of yellow gold anymore.

Besides, I’m wearing more white gold these days….