I take back every bad thing I ever said about your product.
Yes, it is annoying to fish the little one-button pieces out of the vacuum cleaner canister. And there is nothing worse than stepping on one of your bricks in the middle of the night. (Girl moms have told me that Polly Pocket shoes are equally painful, but this strains credibility.) But I will gladly spend an hour standing in the painfully overlit, Genius Bar-reminiscent bulk brick section of your eponymous store, waiting for my children to decide between the bricks with the doors that open to the left versus the bricks with the doors that open to the right, if it means that I will never have to enter an American Girl store.
For some reason, I am on AG's mailing list. The most recent catalog arrived yesterday, along with the latest LEGO Club magazine, just as we were heading out to dinner. Spouse was driving, and the boys were going to be fighting over the LEGO mag in the backseat, so I decided to check out the AG catalog, just to have something to do.
The first few pages didn't offend me one way or the other. Then I got to the "My American Doll" section, which promised to sell me a friend who looked just like me. I started skimming through the hair and eye color combinations. Brown, brown, blue, blue, hazel, brown, blue, blue, brown. Um, excuse me? Why are we green-eyed folk not represented? Oh, there's a doll with green eyes - and she's a GINGER. Stereotype much? Gingers do not have green eyes on lock. Plenty of green-eyed blondes in the world. (Good thing that these dolls didn't exist when I was a little kid: I had enough of a complex, given that I could never find a keychain or a bicycle license plate with my name on it. Plenty of Kathys, Katies and Kates, but NO KATHRYNS. Really resented the 'rents for that one.)
So I started to get mildly annoyed with the American Girl Gods over the green-eyed thing. Disclaimer: when I got home, I pulled up the "My American Girl" page on their Web site, and they offer three additional green-eyed dolls online. One of them has sandy blonde hair, and bangs, and two prominent upper front teeth. In other words, she is a dead ringer for little kid me.
Criticism withdrawn - but on the one point only.
Then I got to the page offering me "McKenna's Loft Bed." And I could not decide whether to laugh or have a coronary. For $225, you, too, can be the proud owner of the following (descriptions taken from AG's Web site, my editorial comments in parentheses):
- A loft bed with an attached ladder and hooks for hanging clothes (STRAIGHT OUTTA THE PB TEEN CATALOG)
- A soft purple mattress and two plump pillows (creating "a cozy place to dream")
- A reversible quilt to keep her warm—solid purple on one side, star print on the other
- A purple metal chair for her desk, featuring an open scrolled back and a green cushioned seat (STILL CHANNELING PB TEEN)
- A pretend clock with hands that "move" (WHY IS THIS WORD IN QUOTES? EITHER THE HANDS MOVE, OR THEY DON'T)
- A faux lamp for her desk
- An achievement certificate (OH, I PROMISE YOU DON'T WANT TO GO THERE, AMERICAN GIRL GODS; I HAVE ENOUGH TROUBLE WITH PARTICIPANT RIBBONS FOR ACTUAL PEOPLE, LET ALONE VINYL REPLICAS), starry trophy, and three gymnastics ribbons from past competitions
- A toy version of McKenna's adorable pet hamster, Polka Dot! Your girl can keep the hamster inside a clear cage that opens up, and comes with a faux water bottle, an exercise wheel, and treat bowl (THANK GOODNESS THAT WE CLEARED UP THAT THE PET HAMSTER IS A TOY, BECAUSE THIS WAS LEFT AMBIGUOUS IN THE CATALOG, AND I STARTED TO WORRY A LITTLE BIT THAT PEOPLE WHO MIGHT SELL YOU A $225 BEDROOM SUITE FOR A DOLL MIGHT ALSO THINK THAT SAID DOLL MERITED A LIVE ANIMAL AS A PET)
- Three faux pencils (SERIOUSLY?) and a lined pad of paper for homework
- Confidence boosters (REFER TO PARTICIPANT RIBBON, ABOVE): a letter from her mom, an encouragement mirror (WHAT IN HADES IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT MIRROR?) from a friend, and a heart note that says "Never give up!"
- A faux bumper sticker (AS OPPOSED TO AN ACTUAL, FUNCTIONING BUMPER STICKER?) that says "I love gymnastics" and a gymnastics poster
- Three mini hardcover books McKenna uses to practice her reading skills: Harry the Dirty Dog, Judy Moody, and Charlotte's Web
- A shaggy green rug, plus a comfy floor pillow for Cooper, McKenna's pet goldendoodle (sold separately) (OKAY, AGAIN, NO REFERENCE TO A TOY ANIMAL HERE)
- Removable stickers girls can use to decorate the loft
I caught myself (saving $398.99, plus tax), and kept reading. I learned that the owner of McKenna's Loft Bed ("Girl of the Year 2012" McKenna Brooks) was a budding gymnast. And, for the ultimate dose of realism, AG was willing to sell me (for the low, low price point of $30) a "McKenna's Cast & Crutches" playset - complete with "replica get-well card."
And here's where I lost it. Because, back in the day, when you wanted to cripple a doll, you used this little ol' thing called imagination - and gauze from the first aid kit. (For a Barbie, you used that paper adhesive tape, because it was sized more to scale.) In lieu of a "replica get-well card," you would take a piece of paper and some crayons, and you would make an ACTUAL get-well card for your faux-disabled doll. And if you wanted to make a doll a gymnast, you flipped over a kitchen chair, stretched a rubber band between the two front legs, inserted a Barbie, WOUND UP THE RUBBER BAND AS TIGHT AS YOU COULD, and let go. Barbie would flip, and flip, and flip, and ultimately fly across the room. PERFECT DISMOUNT! NINE-POINT-NINE FROM THE EAST GERMAN JUDGE! (Oh, that was also back in the days when East Germany was a thing.)
But my fit of pique didn't stop there. It peaked (hey, a peaking pique!) on the second to last page, where I discovered Item # F0902 . . . the American Girl replica "Allergy-Free Lunch":
Said lunch (available for $28, but - like McKenna's loft bed, cast and crutches - backordered for all eternity; THESE ARE POPULAR ITEMS, PEOPLE!) contains:
- A pretend berry smoothie (OH, THANK GOODNESS YOU CLARIFIED THAT IT'S A PRETEND SMOOTHIE, BECAUSE FOR A MINUTE THERE I THOUGHT THAT YOU WERE SUGGESTING THAT WE POUR THE CONTENTS OF AN ACTUAL BERRY SMOOTHIE INTO AN ORIFICE ON A DOLL SO THAT IT COULD SOUR INSIDE THE BODY CAVITY - SHE SAID SARCASTICALLY UNTIL SHE REMEMBERED THE "BABY ALIVE" DOLL THAT SHE JUST HAD TO HAVE IN PRESCHOOL, AND THE ATTENDANT SMELL A WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS CAME AND WENT), container of vegetables, and two sandwich skewers
- A medical bracelet and allergy stickers to keep her safe while she snacks
- A faux allergy shot, just in case (AGAIN, I THINK "FAUX" WAS IMPLIED - WASN'T IT?)
- A fabric lunch bag to hold it all
By the way, Spouse taught me early on in the parenting process that the correct response to any situation is, "rub some dirt on it and get back in the game." And I have wholeheartedly adopted the philosophy. Which, I guess, is why the American Girl brand of introspection seems so foreign to me.
Also by the way: I used my Batman detective powers to piece together that the lunch probably belongs to "Girl of the Year" McKenna, although it was not attributed as such in the catalog. It was Cooper the goldendoodle that tipped me off. Non-shedding breed. Definite allergy tell.
And apropos of absolutely nothing: for the same $28 that would snag you a faux allergy-free lunch (if it wasn't backordered), you can get an "unofficial" taxidermied deer LEGO kit from the David Cole Gift Shop. Which, coincidentally, might be on order as a "thank you for having male genitalia" gift for my children.