Where’s Indiana Jones when you need him?
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, God bless and keep you in your ignorant bliss. For those of us with little girls, we could probably all get together and have synchronized full-scale productions of Frozen with absolutely no dress rehearsal needed. I know I hear the songs a minimum of 734 times daily, and the movie replays around me in various stages of repurposed costumes/accessories every waking hour of the day. I literally heard my youngest singing herself to sleep with “The First Time in Forever” not two hours ago.
But I digress. My second oldest just had her seventh birthday Monday. And she is Elsa. Just ask her. And after the Unspeakable Day when she was brought to tears by not getting the Elsa doll on the shelf because she wanted a different one, coming back and finding all 10 dolls had been swiped from the shelf, no doubt squirreled away to be resold on Ebay for upwards of $60, my daughter’s desperation to own an Elsa doll increased a million-fold. Became and obsession.
Speaking of obsession…that was the zone I lived in. Not only did I paint her a room sign as backup, but I began calling Toys R Us and the Disney Store and EVERY Target and Walmart within driving distance daily and whispering in hushed tones like they were crank dealers in the back alley, “Do you have any Elsa dolls?” Being devastated time after time by their stoic, and it must be said rather heartless, “No’s,” I finally hit gold when a lovely Disney Store employee took pity on me and told me The Secret. The merchandise “may” be available, and without revealing the actual contents of the shipment, Saturday morning before opening would be a “GOOD TIME” to drop by. The “wink wink, nudge nudge” was unspoken.
“So is this like an ‘I should campout in a tent sixteen hours before’ type of deal?” I asked.
A pause. I assumed it was to check to see if we were being overheard. “Last time there was a wait for 40 minutes.”
Dear Lord, for a toy? One that probably cost the same as a pack of ramen noodles to make? This was getting ridiculous. Someone would have to put a stop to it.
“Will there be any Elsa dolls?”
“I am not at liberty to say,” her words were stilted and sounded oft-rehearsed.
“Look, it’s my daughter’s birthday Monday, and this is my last chance to get her an Elsa doll,” I may or may not have added a sob at the end of my plea.
Another short silence.
“Be here Saturday morning.”
The spy-movie disconnect. I sat blinking. Yes, this madness had to stop somewhere. I mean the same doll I had seen on a shelf at Target a few months back was now the exorbitant price of $64.99, not including shipping, and needed “a few extra days to process.” Did I wander into some nightmare where every day was Black Friday and Tickle Me Elmo was reincarnated in a flaxen haired maiden? No, this was just crazy. No way I would be a party to this.
So I made arrangements for babysitting for the associates, and was in line at the Disney Store before opening on Derby Day morning. A cold sweat came over me. There were probably 40 or so people there, more arrived before the gates opened. The “goods” were covered in expensive looking fabric. I sized up the people in front of me one by one.
First group looked shifty. High school guys, clearly related, talking on phones and wearing sunglasses indoors. A father with his little girl twirling in her dress. Yeah, he’s clean. A couple of middle aged women speaking in undertones as they looked around them. Hm, they may or may not be on the level. Some families, a slumping dad with a giant stroller, another group of teenage dudes who were talking on their phones and squinting into the store as though that would help them see through the purple cloth and take orders. Then I noticed the woman in front of me sizing me up.
I straightened my shoulders and cleared my throat. “Nice morning for it.”
“Mm.” Clearly not into small talk, this one. “What are you here for?”
“Oh, um,” was she allowed to ask? Should I make up something? “Um, Elsa. My daughter’s birthday. She wants an Elsa. Any Elsa.”
Obviously I won’t be enduring any covert operations with government secrets anytime soon. The woman relaxed a little. “I am here for the Elsa DRESS. You have to give them your ID and enter a raffle for it. We have the musical Elsa and the toddler doll of her, not to mention the figurine set.”
I think I was just put in my place, but I smiled anyway. “So I have a chance?”
She shrugged, a bit regally I think. But she was entitled, I suppose, she had like 3 of the most coveted toys on the face of the earth.
“I’m signing up for the dress too!” a voice from behind us made us both jump. We look to see a glassy eyed woman with an overeager look on her face. “And the soft Elsa. They didn’t have any last week but it looks like they have a good bunch this week, don’t you think?”
We all gazed in at the shapeless purple drape. Then the woman in front of me and the woman behind me stared each other down. Worthy adversaries, perhaps?
Then the gates opened. We all craned out necks to see the groups of people being let in slowly, like four at a time.
“It looks like they have Elsa dolls, the plain ones. Darn it, I have two of those,” the woman behind me bemoans.
There are Elsa shoes, other character dolls, Frozen cups and plates, and Olaf the Snowmen that we can see from the window. People flock to that stand and like locusts slowly clear it out.
But the beacon of light shining down behind the counter fell straight on the Elsa doll. She glistened, and I felt a tightness in my chest as I reached out toward the glass. Slowly the supply dwindled down, and it was only “slowly” because of a newly instituted program which allowed only 2 dolls to be purchased per customer, Miss Lady in Front of Me declared.
“That’s why those guys brought their friends,” Miss Lady Behind Me scoffed.
Those guys in question were bobbing their heads as they tried their best to look cool, talk on their cell phones to their buyers, and carry a sparkly shiny Disney Store bag at the same time.
After only 25 minutes of looking like an absolute fool standing and waiting for a doll for the first time in my life–not looking like a fool, I do that all the time, but waiting in line for a toy– it was my turn. I almost crumpled in relief that there were probably twenty Elsa dolls left. But I still hurried to the counter.
“Two?” she asked me.
I glanced back at the waiting line of mostly mothers and grandmothers with little girls looking expectantly.
They seemed surprised, rang up the doll, and I’m pretty sure there was a choir somewhere singing in unison as the doll was put in my hands.
“This is crazy,” I told her as she took my credit card. The adrenaline was still pumping through me and I felt like I ran a marathon.
“Right?” she scoffed. Then got wide-eyed as she checked to her left and right. In a much perkier (mechanical) voice she said, “Have a magical day!”
“You too!” it’s possible I skipped when I left, swinging the bag around as I went. I am reasonably certain that finding a kidney on the black market would have been less stressful. Hoping this would be worth it for my daughter.
Author’s note : TOTALLY worth it. As you can see in the photo.