Sunday, December 20, 2009

The American (Girl) Experience

Day two of being snowed in (21" as of this morning), and I'm trying to convince myself I do not need an expensive doll. Not now, when I'm supposed to be paying for Christmas presents and conferences and car repairs. But the American Girl 2009 'Girl of the Year' dolls will be retired soon, and I'm still clicking over to Sonali, and thinking DO WANT.

I got my first AG doll at the age of six. Back then, there were only three dolls, with three books each. I saved up the money my parents gave me for putting away dishes and other chores. Looking back, I'm sure they either paid me far too much, or majorly helped with the final cost. But in any case, Samantha Parkington was mine. Over the next few years, birthdays and Christmases, I collected all her outfits. We stuck to the easily stored items - I had a friend who had the bed and the trunk and the nightstand, and while it was all pretty to look at, I preferred lusting over the shiny images in the pages of the catalogs. Sometimes I'd make up my own dolls - each collection had a set canon of items, and it was easy to dream up my own school, Christmas, birthday, and adventure stories for a girl from the '20s, the '70s, or the '90s.

Later, my mother bought Felicity as a classroom aid (she teaches Virginia history in 4th grade). Though I loved her almost as much as Sam - and in some ways more - I was older, and we never completed her collection. Mattel bought out the Pleasant Company, and everything started to take on a slightly pink and purple plastic sheen, as if business woman Barbie had puked on the sanctity of my childhood. Even while shaking my fist at Mattel's decisions to pare down Felicity's collection and "archive" Samantha, I couldn't help but return to my ten year-old daydreams and think about creating my own doll. And it just so happens that I think Sonali, with a bit of work, could be a great Creole girl, circa 1804.

Tomorrow I hope to start finishing a book dummy I began ages ago. I'm also hoping this will quell my urge to get online and spend money I really should keep. But wouldn't Meet Mariotte be a fun project?

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