Last Sunday I was dragged along by my family to Madrid’s Museo del Traje* (Fashion Museum) to see an exhibition of dolls dressed in concoctions designed by celebrated Spanish modistas. Needless to say, when the trip was mooted, a fashion museum being far from my idea of fun, I dug the old heels in, like the stubborn old mule I am, but was out-voted three to one. We were going no matter what I thought or no matter what fab alternatives I came up with. I got my revenge, however, by making lame Nancy boy jokes all weekend. You see, the doll we were going to see was none other than s own answer to Sindy, Barbie et al. and rather unfortunately named if you happen to have a native English-speaking father in your life who cannot hear “Nancy” without following it up with “boy”. (BTW: I’ve nothing against Nancy boys. The humour for me comes from the doll’s manufacturers settling upon a name for their creation that plays into the hands of undergraduate-level wits the likes of yours truly. Talk about hand out your enemies bullets!)
When I first learned of the existence of a doll called Nancy whose sales in Spain rivaled those of Sindy et cetera and whose standing in Spanish popular culture was equivalent to Barbie’s in the English-speaking world (in Spain you hear cutting remarks along the lines of someone being “done up like a Nancy” in the same way certain heavily made-up blond ladies are derisively called Barbie in Ireland), a frisson of evil glee ran up my back.
“And is there a Nancy boy?” I immediately asked, chortling to myself. “Like Barbie’s Ken. Or Sindy’s Paul.”
There was — a poor unfortunate called Lucas. Lucas — Nancy’s boy. Lucas — the Nancy boy. I’m laughing as I type. The joke hasn’t worn thin, even after more than a decade of snide asides at the wee fella’s expense.
Poor Lucas is suffering the same fate as Ken and Paul. Not only is he the only man in a decidedly girly girls’ world, but he is coiffured and attired like granny’s poodle on dog-show day. Since Lucas’ birth along with Nancy** in 1968, indignity has been heaped upon indignity for our friend. On top of lacking even Action Man’s merest suggestion of the presence of gonads and corresponding secondary sexual characteristics (muscles, facial hair, a chin), Lucas has had a wardrobe forced upon him (garish Bermudas, ironic baseball caps, pastel sweaters, tight-fitting slacks) that leaves you wondering if he’s going to be stuck in there forever (har-har). The campest things (my last double entendre, I promise!) about Nancy and Lucas’ summer caravanning set are definitely not the pair of matching pink tents, if you get me!
My girls (seven and five years old) don’t know what a Nancy boy is and nor would I want them to. What they do know is that I was disappointed that among the Museo del Traje‘s dozens of haute couture and seriously dolled-up Nancys, there wasn’t one Nancy boy — not a single Lucas in sight.
“We’re sorry there was no Nancy boy, Daddy,” they consoled. “We know how much you like the Nancy boy.”
“The Nancy boy” is Lucas’ official name in our household.
“Since you like the Nancy boy so much, I might ask Santa for one!”
“That’s quite all right,” I replied. “I’ll be OK.”
*All joking aisde, the Museo del Traje is well worth a visit. The Nancy exhibition runs until mid-January 2014 and there is an exhibition of the work of designer Manuel Piña until the end of January. The permanent exhibition of regional costumes from all over Spain and historical garb is fascinating and gives an insight into the cultural/regional diversity of the peninsula. If you feel like a good, long walk, head north from Gran Vía up along Calle Princesa. Just after as you hit Moncloa, the museum is on your left (well sign-posted for a change!).
**Even though I’m giving the impression here of being in possession of a condescending or even mocking attitude towards Nancy and her companion, I wholeheartedly approve of her. Unlike, Barbie or Sindy and their ilk, she has refused to sex herself up over the years. There’s a wide-eyed innocence and goodness too her that seems more appropriate to childhood than the materialistic vampishness of the Bratz or Monster High. Who cares if her best friend makes Kenneth Williams look like Rambo?!!