I have seen the face of Hell and it is the American Girl Doll Store.
My parents, my sister, and I took Little E there two weeks ago. We rode the train downtown and I had to listen to my family bitch about the weather – as if it were my fault or some failing of Chicago itself that it was not 75º and Sunny – as we rushed the two blocks from the subway to Michigan Avenue.
All morning Little E had been asking “What are we doing today?”
EEE: We’re going shopping
Little E: But… what are we doing?
EEE: What do you mean?
Little E: You know how yesterday we went to the Museum? What are we doing today?
EEE: We’re going shopping
Little E: (frowning) But what SPECIAL thing are we doing today?
EEE: We’re not, honey. We’re just going shopping.
Little E: Oh.
I was, of course, lying shamelessly to her. (Is it wrong to play pranks of this sort on a 7yo?)
She had been chattering on endlessly about the American Girl Doll Store for weeks apparently. I’m not sure how she learned about it. I mean, she got a doll of Xmas, but I don't know how she found out about the Doll Mother Ship. I would think that her little friends are too young to have such an information network in place just yet, but I guess I’m wrong.
She brought her doll with her to Chicago, but we’d already told her that we weren’t going to go. She was pragmatic about this, assuming we'd do other fun stuff.
So when we approached the doors of the store, I stopped and said, “Hey, Little E, what store is that?”
She looked up at the sign and her eyes went big and round and then a frown marred her perfect little forehead.
Little E: But I didn’t bring my doll today!!
EEE: No? Uh oh! Maybe Grandma will go back and get it. Ask her.
My mother had been standing behind us and she’d already pulled out Little E’s doll from her voluminous bag.
I never saw a kid look so happy. We spent about two hours in that store. She took her doll to the “Salon” to get her hair coiffed (can you imagine if that were your job? Styling doll hair all day?) and she picked out a new outfit. We had told her going in that she could get one – ONE – new outfit and she was very serious in her decision-making process.
Luckily there were benches available for Dads and Grandfathers (and jaded Aunties) to rest their barking dogs. Luckier still, the Café had scheduled seatings and 12:30 and 2:30 and we were there too late for the first and too early for the next. I think my father’s head would have imploded if he’d been forced to sit through a meal at which a $100 doll was seated to his right.
Of course, before we left, Grandpa had to surprise Little E with a little red “doll tote” (shoulder bag) that he thought was cute and practical. (He’s such a phony!)
All in all, it wasn’t that bad. There were a monkey ton of little girls there but they were all remarkably well-behaved. They were patient and quiet and there was very little running around.
So it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
But they don't sell American Girl Beer, in case you were wondering. I know: I asked.