It all started when I needed a gift for an 8 year old girl. I decided the best place to go would be the Mecca of Toy Stores, FAO Schwarz.
When I got there the place was packed with parents and their offspring trying out anything and everything they could get their tiny, little mitts on. I particularly loved how well behaved they all were especially when a kid aimed an electric helicopter right in my direction.
“Isn’t he cute?” said his grandmother.
“Adorable,” I said, checking to see if my eye was hanging out.
“Maybe little Atticus will grow up to be a pilot.”
“Maybe.” Once he’s out of reform school that is.
The selection of games and gizmos was staggering. It was definitely one stop shopping for anyone under 12. I found myself fascinated with the stuffed Noah’s Ark that to my surprise didn’t seem to be selling. Surely there shouldn’t still be three dozen left this close to Christmas. I was thinking of buying one for myself, till I saw the price. I mean, one could see if the animals were real.
When I wandered upstairs I came upon a father trying to sell his son on an age appropriate scooter. The kid, 3 going on 40, apparently preferred a 20 inch Schwinn they sell at Toys “R” Us.
“But I’m old enough,” he said so convincingly I thought perhaps he was a dwarf.
“But Ronnie, your feet won’t reach the pedals.”
“Will you let me worry about that?” Last I heard they were going to discuss it further during lunch at the sugar shrine of all time, Serendipity. Makes you wonder how many deals have been made drinking Frozen Hot Chocolate over the years.
When I started to see double while at the “Wild Republic” pricing seals, I knew it was time to leave, but where to?
Where does one go to shop for an 8 year old who has everything but wants more? Then it hit me…American Girl Place, that’s where. Armed with my Platinum AmEx card, I headed down the Avenue passed Bergdorfs and Bendels, Gucci and that store with the shirtless boy toys urging you to come in and browse (Abercrombie & Fitch) finally finding myself at the southeast corner of 49th and Fifth.
I couldn’t get over the size of the store…four floors, not to mention dolls that looked more like short newscasters. Why didn’t I think to wear a suit and pumps. Even the ones in casual wear made me feel underdressed, and I’m from Connecticut. I soon learned you could either buy a doll you named yourself or choose one with historical lineage; I chose the latter.
Marie-Grace, Cecile, Kit, Ruthie, Emily, Caroline, Addy, Rebecca. If I let my mind wander I could have been at Smith College.
An androgynous looking lady came over to see if she could help. “Would this be for your little one madam?” “No, someone else’s, and if you don’t mind I’d just like to look around thank you.” She quickly stepped back like a very good butler. Come to think of it she did look a bit like Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey.
I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about my surroundings when I thought back to my own collection of dolls.
I had Chatty Cathy who, when you pulled the cord attached to her neck, would say things like, mama, papa, night-night. Prior to her was Patti Playpal who came up to my waist. I loved her dearly till I pulled one of her arms out after an intense game of Bad Doll. And we mustn’t forget Barbie…she at least was a reasonable size that could fit into your mother’s pocketbook when you got tired of her.
This group would call their lawyers demanding compensation. I don’t know, maybe I should just buy one and let that be that. I mean what’s a couple hundred bucks when you’re this exhausted.
As I was making up my mind between Emily or Kit I heard a woman say, “I told you Mary Elizabeth, you can only pick one, and that’s it.”
“NOOOOOOOOOO,” screamed the mini consumer, “I WANT FIVE.”
Not that I’m psychic but I’m pretty sure her mother was harboring seconds thoughts about having any more children, but don’t quote me.
I took one look at Mary Elizabeth face down between dreamy bedding and ski gear stamping her miniature Uggs and thought…
You know, I’m just going to march myself to Crawford Doyle Books on 81st and Madison to get little Heather a gift certificate.
I mean, what could be a better gift than books?
Who said a condo?