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Ben had a conference in Chicago this past weekend. The conference ran both days, so we all drove down with him on Sunday so that the girls and I could spend the day shopping [and going to the public restroom every half-hour]. Whereas Ben spent the day sitting in a lecture hall taking notes on building Drupal modules for six hours. Sounds sexy doesn’t it?
On our list of ‘Places to Fritter Away Our Money’ was the American Girl Place store. We’d visited this doll store a few times when Lexi was younger and from what I can remember the store’s greeter grabs unsuspecting parents by the ankles, holds them upside down, and shakes them violently until all the money falls out of their pockets. But like I said, I’ve been to the store before so I knew to wear a floor length skirt and avoid eye contact.
Never again Store Greeter, never again!
Lexi really wanted to take her little sisters to American Girl Place; I don’t know why since she never really got into dolls herself. That’s not to say her father and I didn’t spend her first semester’s college tuition at American Girl Place in the past. I suppose, by default, I’ve dragged all my girls there because, well, they’re girls. Look, I’ve bought cars because I’ve liked the cup holders. I have my reasons.
I’m not going to try and describe the store, since I’d probably mix up the details between ‘doll hospital’ from the ‘doll hair salon,’ and I’m not inclined to ‘research’ or spend anymore time on this American Girl Doll phenomenon than my own children require.
However, I will tell you this. There are these doll displays throughout the store where they have dolls sleeping in doll beds, dolls talking on miniatured sized phones and dolls riding dwarfed doll horses. These displays pose a problem for any parent with chronic back pain since they’re too high for your average height four year old. Thus, your average height four year old will continually yelp, “Pick me up! I can’t see!” Which is how I ended up bumping elbows with Gwen Stefani.
Heidi and I were looking at the American Girl doll horse display. She was pointing out the toy horse’s tail and animatedly jibber-jabbering, and asking questions like ‘what does the horse eat?’ and ‘where does it sleep?’ and then my eyes rolled into the back of my skull and I prayed for a painless death. It was just about then that I noticed a woman, with a kid on her hip, nudge-up next to so her son to get a better look at the display.
I did the rudimentary once over glance. Then another and another. Her bleached-white hair and bright red lipstick begged for ogling. So I did a little stealth ogling. Also, the look on her face had ‘slap me upside the head so I don’t fall over from this tedium’ written all over it. I feel ya sista.
Hold on a second. Just hold on. I think American Girl Place is about to get interesting. This is Gwen Stefani bumping elbows with me at the horsie display! GA-WHEN STEHFANI. Only my number one, all time favorite girl rocker, here with me sharing this tedium! Right, of course, I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to get this close to a rockstar; I just always imagined that ‘security’ would be shoving me back.
All of a sudden American Girl Place is so exciting! All of a sudden I can't get enough of these friggin' dolls!
Then the kid on her hip starts in, and like every other kid in this store he WANTS. Want, want, want. Which is exactly what these displays are for, to break down the wills of exhausted, cross-eyed parents into relenting plebs. You sneaky little marketing consultants, you! Well played.
The little boy on her hip asks for a doll; he wants one. So like any regular exhausted, cross-eyed parent she incoherently mumbles something like, ‘No not today, blah, blah, blah.’ But like any regular kid he asks again, and this time she gathers up some strength and says, “Not today Kingston, we have a lot to do. We still have to get over to the Children’s Museum...and anyway, these are GIRL toys.”
Now it’s easy to get all judgey here and offer Gwen Stefani up to the feminist god[esses]. Except I have to admit, I do and say idiotic things myself after a day spent at the Disney Store and multiple trips to the public restroom with children in tow. Besides, was I any better? I’m at the American Girl Place because my children ARE GIRLS.
I don’t think anyone else recognized her. Even with Kingston and his frosted hair, or her two nannies with their matching white-bleached ponytails. No one took a second look.
Then we left the store. I don’t know how we made it out of there without purchasing a doll. No, wait, I know...they’re one-hundred dollars! That doesn’t even include a horse!
Lexi really wanted to take a photo of her. Eh, I thought it would be kind of awkward. But her husband, Gavin Rossdale, circling the mall, waiting for his family? Yeah, I’m all over that!
[No one ran up and bothered him for an autograph. Midwesterners are so polite.]
[All photo credits go to Lexi!]