Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What A Doll!

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published January 13, 2016©2016

Since I only had sons and nephews, I never got to buy baby dolls until I was blessed with two tiny granddaughters. This year, my four-year-old granddaughter, Molly, announced that she wanted a doll that “peed and pooped.” I wasn’t sure about the poop part but even I remember Betsy Wetsy dolls from my youth so the pee part seemed do-able. 

A little internet research quickly revealed the answer to Molly’s dreams: Baby Alive My Baby All Gone comes with a rudimentary alimentary canal, potty seat, fake food, pricey diapers, and knows 30 phrases in both English AND Spanish. But most importantly, she poops!  She even comes in Blonde, Brunette, and African American versions. $27 at Wal-Mart.

I should have known it couldn’t be that easy. When I clicked “buy,” a message popped up. “This item is no longer available,” noted Wal-Mart’s website of the Brunette excrementer, the only version they carried.  “We’re unable to show you buying options for this item unless you live on Mars.”  (OK, I added that last part.

Rated “top selling item in baby dolls” on Amazon, the Blonde Episcopalian Baby Alive pooper was even more scarce. Not available anywhere, even on Hasbro’s own site. Amazon had one Baby Alive Brunette for $199.00.  For a $27 defecating doll?

It was a déjà that I was hoping not to vu again now that my kids were grown: the unattainable Christmas toy.  I could only remember with despair the Ewok Village Rory had to have for Christmas in 1983 without which there could be no happiness in his life forever forward. I finally acquired an Ewok Village after calling called Toys R Us hourly for more than a week, only to discover that it didn’t come with Ewoks (even more unattainable than the village). The toy was a total bust.

But there was hope. African American Baby Alive My Baby All Gone was available on Amazon for a bargain $66.  (Only 5 left! Order now!) I quickly emailed my daughter-in-law.  “African American doll OK?”  She replied. “Does it poop?”  And thus a Baby Alive My Baby All Gone, at 2.5 times its list price, ended up under the tree. 

Now, even though both sons and families were together with us in L.A. this year, I didn't actually get to see Baby Alive My Baby All Gone actually excrete. Given the abundance of toys, my daughter-in-law thought it was better not to open the box until they got back to Santa Cruz. Besides, she noted, she wasn't sure that demonstrating Baby Alive My Baby All Gone's feculental functions right before the Christmas tenderloin was really a great idea.

So thrilled was I to actually fulfill my beloved granddaughter’s Christmas wish that I didn’t bother to read the reviews before ordering the doll. Apparently she “clogs”.  Given how hard they’re hawking her pricey peripherals ($8.95 for eight food packets, $9.95 for six diapers, $19.95 for Juice Accessory Pack), I’m amazed Hasbro’s marketing department hasn’t come out with Baby Alive My Baby All Gone enemas ($11.95 for a package of 5? Caution: contains battery acid!

Another parent posted: “NEVER USE ANY REAL FOOD OR DRINK LIKE JUICE AS IT WILL MOLD AND ROT INSIDE.” Okay, promise not to do that. But those enemas might work if you did.

Meanwhile, my husband Olof was having his own doll trauma.  A relative sent our other little granddaughter  a Barbie’s Pop-Up Camper which took Olof over an hour to assemble. Olof has a degree in nuclear physics from Cal Tech so nuclear reactors make sense to him.  Barbie’s Pop-Up Camper, not so much.  As I said earlier, there were no daughters in our house so he didn’t get much practice at the critical stage of brain development when synapses form related to doll accessory assembly skills. The whole time, our granddaughter kept asking, “Where are the people?” So when it was all done, she walked away, totally unimpressed. It was Ewok Déjà Vu-llage all over again. No more excitement in a Barbie-less Barbie Pop-Up Camper than in an Ewok-less Ewok Village.

So as my first good deed of the new year, I queried her mother: I don't know how you feel about Barbies, but since your daughter now has the camper, I'd be glad to order her a Barbie plus a companion (can't camp alone!) Would it be a wrong message if the companion was Ken? (I mean, they'd be shacking up together in the camper in your playroom.)  You have to ask about this stuff because Moms have very strong feelings about Barbie. Maybe it’s boob envy. Maybe they just don’t feel like she’s the right role model for their daughter.

So one Trailer Trash, er, Camping Barbie and a Fashionista Ken (there wasn’t a camping Ken doll) are now on their way to L.A.  Meanwhile, now that Christmas is over, pooping Baby Alives are starting to be available again. Looks like the elves (read: Asian sweat shops) have been working overtime. But they’re not giving them away. Blonde My Baby All Gone is selling on Amazon for a usurious $224.99, the Brunette for a relatively bargain $165. But according to my daughter-in-law, Baby Alive My Baby All Gone is dutifully emitting effluvia in Santa Cruz and Molly couldn’t be happier.

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