I first heard about Barbie lobster on NPR, combined with a story about recent research, believe it or not, in lobster mating habits. (In an unrelated story, this is why I am, at heart, most emphatically not a scientist.)

When fishing for lobster, a fisherman is supposed to throw back a lobster of too small a size. With lobster, like crab, the fishers are also supposed to throw back the females, in the hopes that they will continue to propagate the race. Thus, a small female lobster can potentially be thrown back numerous times in her lifetime.

Apparently some Maine lobstermen with overactive senses of humor one day decided to play a trick on a friend. They dressed up a small female in Barbie clothes - apparently from the new Jingo Barbie, who dresses of course in a blue sparkly denim mini, a red and white striped top, and of course, high-heeled pink gogo boots. Apparently everything fit rather well except the boots, so they superglued the boots onto a pair of her smaller claws. Then they stuck little Barbie in their friend's lobster pot.

They succeeded far beyond their dreams - The friend got his laugh, and then Barbie Lobster was tossed back in the drink. After that, she has apparently been hauled up at least 10 times, and causes a great deal of amused radio chatter amongst the fleet. Over time poor Barbie has become quite tatty, having lost all of her clothing except her boots, poor thing.

When I heard this story, I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my face. The image of Barbie Lobster, naked except for her shoes, outcast from all the other lobsters for being such a tramp, completely amuses me - strangely, it also makes me sad. Poor Barbie Lobster.

She makes me think of the bar flies and fallen women I have known. She manages to evoke both humor and pathos, and reveals more about cultural attitudes towards women than any of us might like to admit. Is Barbie Lobster a bimbo, just by her nature? Does she dress to please herself, or to meet culturally established norms of Barbie beauty? Do the boy lobsters secretly lust and fantasize over her, even though the nice girl lobsters disapprove? Is she embarrassed in front of all the other lobster? The most interesting thing about it is not what is says about them, but what is says about us.

I'm still learning how this manages to make me both happy and sad at the same time.

www.foxnews.com from an Associated Press story.

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