Holy mother of the belly of the beast. I have seen it, been immersed in it and experienced all of its impure and twisted awful inanimate yet somehow alive presence.
It is American Girl.
Even after rolling it around in my head, it continues to haunt me. I will never be the same.
First, let me set the stage. I don’t like shopping. I don’t like shopping centers. When the occasion arrives for me to purchase new garments or gifts for this joyous holiday season, I will venture into such establishments in a quick and precise action that has me, and me alone, in and out in no more than 45 minutes. I do not like to talk about shopping or items one would bring home while shopping. I do not like contemplating whether a purchase is right. I like to buy the item after waiting in a small and quick-moving line and walk promptly back to my car.
And yet, because of a certain new person in my household, I found myself at a shopping center that happened to have a Santa Claus cordial enough to be photographed with this new household person who I might add looked amazingly cute in her red Christmas dress, coat and hat.
After this task was completed, I believed it was home-free. But alas, no. That was not to be. There was a new store that needed to be checked out and that store was American Girl.
Second, let me apologize to those who love this store and its products. I understand the appeal. You are not wrong. It is just not for me.
The first level was fine. Strange, but fine. Dolls of varying types were propped up in individual displays next to clothing for the doll’s proposed new owner so they can match. The prices for the garments seemed reasonable — if they were for fashionable adults. But they were not. Venturing further, one can see that there were dolls from different eras with their personalities and stories written about them and videos produced about them. Strange, but fine. Like Thomas the Train. Again, not for me.
The true horror began up the winding staircase. There, a cafe of sorts appeared in which one could sit and order food. With dolls. Dolls were part of this cafe equation as they had small chairs that attached to tables specifically for dolls. Inside, I spotted a well-appointed mother enjoying (I use that term with sarcasm) the meal with her daughter and her two dolls. I did not stare as I saw a moment of deep embarrassment in the eyes of that mother. I moved along. To the side of the cafe was a hair salon where dolls could have their hair styled. I am not sure as to how the new style is determined, but I know there was styling taking place. And also an option to have a new doll fashioned after a human girl. I draw the line here. Again, I see the appeal but is this really the type of activity we need in our ever-growing narcissistic society?
The new person in my household seemed to enjoy the experience, I believe, though she was smaller than others there and was bumped into far more than I care for by those others’ zeal for these products. She also enjoys putting a napkin on her head and declaring herself a “pirate.” While different, perusing a doll store on steroids and pushing dirt are not mutually exclusive. I just prefer the latter, and not because of the cost differential.
Third, if the new person in my household ever expresses an interest in returning to this store, and that interest is really really really strong, I will buy her what she wants and hide my horror as I do so. I will even have lunch with her new purchase, and I will genuinely smile while doing so.
Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.