I now understand the uncomfortable feeling that men experience when their girlfriends make them hold their purses in the industrial bra department of the Bay. Yesterday, I ventured in to a store that was far outside my comfort zone – Toys ‘R Us. The fact that I couldn’t stop obsessing that the store’s name had been spelled by a gangsta should have been a clue that this was not the place to find the wholesome educational toys of yesteryear. I entered on a quest to find the following items on my Christmas shopping list:
- Something called a Liv doll
- My Littlest Pet Shop animals
The smell in the store took me back to my kindergarten days – a mixture of play dough, puke, peanut butter, pestilence and urine. Fortunately, I had my scarf and wrapped it around my nose to block the smell of the five Ps… and so my adventure began.
I made a plan to look for the Lego first since it was something I would recognize. After asking a child labourer for directions, I found Lego World. Back in the day (OMG – I’m now channelling my dad)….but seriously, back in the day, Lego consisted of a bucket of blocks. From them I made houses, cars, and possibly the world’s first Rubik’s cube. Now Lego has undergone “branding”. And it is connected to big movie franchises – Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Prince of Persia (Really? I recall this movie as being quite horrible but apparently, you can build stuff from it). From the sets, kids of today make tie fighters, space shuttles and storm troopers. The Legos are not designed to make the highly creative and complex solid square boxes that I used to make. Sigh.
So I stood there. Staring. Comparing. Agonizing. I honestly had no clue which one to pick. I was able to rule out the ones over $125 – which was most of them. For that amount of money, the set better contain Legos, booze and Harrison Ford. Fortunately, as luck would have it, I was blessed with the presence of the best volunteer salesman Toys ‘R Us has probably ever had – Max Gruenberg. Max strode into the section like an 8 year old on a mission – to get his mom to buy him the Star Wars Drop Ship with Walker for a total of $349. His sales pitch was incredible – “Mom, I will stay off crack if you buy this for me.” And he was an expert in all things Lego. I asked Max for some help and he weighed in on the pros and cons of each package.
- Well this is good if the kid likes to build. But if he is smart like me, he will have it done in 10 minutes. And then what is he going to do with it. Nothing.
- This one is cool but the wings snap off and can be eaten by your dog so I say no unless you have a lot of money for vet bills.
- Stay away from anything Prince of Persia. That was a horrible movie. We shouldn’t support it.
In the end, he assessed my situation and picked out my Lego set for me. I
was thrilled. Gift one, done. Check. I tried to lure Max to the Liv doll section to help me on my next selection but apparently, his mother and Toys R Us security don’t like it when you use the word lure around children in their store. So I went there on my own.
I knew nothing about Liv dolls. I had been told they weren’t Barbies. I
never liked Barbies. My sister loved them but I was more of a Hot Wheels gal. I used to tie her Barbies to my Hot Wheels track and have my cars jump over them. But it was a hard hobby to enjoy since my sister’s screaming tended to ruin the fun.
The Liv doll section was smaller than Lego World but no less intimidating. Apparently, Liv is the new hot doll in town. If you haven’t seen one, they are bigger than a Barbie but have smaller boobs and freakishly large heads – sort of like they have lived too close to a nuclear reactor all their life. The marketing says Liv dolls are a bold new fashion doll that celebrates what’s cool with being a real teenage girl. Based upon their styles, I would say what is cool about being a teenage girl is promiscuity, vapidness and underage clubbing. It is a far cry from my experience as a teenage girl where fear of rejection, obesity and hormonal driven depression were a daily occurrence – granted, I can’t say that my teen life would have made a particularly fun doll. I mean what young girl would want a doll whose accessories were
buckets of chicken, Kleenex and Midol? I ended up choosing Hayden, the flannel wearing outdoor girl. While none of the Liv dolls looked like they would grow up to be doctors, Hayden looked like she would at least get an undergraduate degree from a community college and hopefully come out of the closet one day to embrace her lesbianism. I am rooting for Hayden to break away from her Liv doll cohorts – they are weighing down her life potential.
I found the final gift, My Littlest Pet Shop, around the corner from the Liv
Dolls. By that point, my patience and hand sanitizer were running low. I picked the first over packaged thing I saw. The tiny little pets were cute but I think they need to be renamed My Little Choking Hazard since my intent is to give them to a three year old. Fortunately, the family is vegetarian so the kid should know not to put animals in her mouth.
Standing in line to pay for my gifts I looked around at the parents and people in line. They all had a weariness about them. They looked tired – and maybe slightly stressed that their Visa wouldn’t go through or that they had bought the wrong version of Lego. Toys R Us is definitely not Toys R Me….but since it pleases Them, I am cool with going there once a year if it gets the job done. Three gifts off the list. Check. Check. Check.