When I was a little girl, there was only one thing I wanted in the entire world:
Of course, there was no way anyone in my family was buying me this little money sucker. Because after you got the doll, you had to buy her books. And her other clothes. And her furniture. And clothes for me to dress just like her. And the cardboard box we would be living in under a bridge once we’d spent all our money on this goddamn doll.
Late last year, when money from The Boss started rolling in, I was like, “I’m totally going to buy myself Samantha for Christmas!” I went to the website, only to find that Samantha had been discontinued. I couldn’t get my Samantha. She was just gone. And prices for her on eBay? Ridiculous.
Last Thursday, I was in Copper Harbor, MI. There’s a little candy store on the main drag. I don’t know if it has a name, the sign out front just says “candy store.” I love going there, because they play music from the ’50s and the whole place is decorated with old toys and there is so much candy. Here is me, in the store, before the greatest thing in my entire life happened:
My purse wasn’t open because I was shoplifting, I swear to god. It’s just open because I got my phone out for this picture.
Anyway, after I got this picture, I immediately turned to my left and saw her. There was Samantha, in her Christmas dress (my favorite of all her dresses), sitting on a little chair on the floor below a display of M&M’s.
I freaked out. I ran over and immediately hugged her. I rank this moment as one of my top ten best feelings ever. I had never even touched an American Girl doll before, so here I was, shamelessly hugging this random doll being used for decoration in a store. I realized it was a little silly, so I put her down and continued with my shopping.
Then a thought occurred to me. A hope I daren’t hope. A dream I might never realize.
I went to the counter with my purchases and asked the owner if she would consider selling me the doll. “I won’t be offended if you say no, but I would hate myself if I left without asking. I wanted her so much as a kid, and we just didn’t have the money.”
She asked me to show her which doll I was talking about. I was thinking it must have belonged to one of her kids or something, and she wouldn’t be able to part with it out of sentimental value. I reasoned that I could always buy another American Girl and live with my disappointment. But this was Samantha.
She picked it up, looked at it, and said, “It’s yours.”
I will never be able to duplicate the noise I made as I said thank you. I had tears in my eyes. “How much do you want for her?” I had four hundred dollars in cash in my wallet and I would have forked it over gladly and spent the rest of my vacation eating beans.
“No, you can just have it,” she said. “It’s worth more to make somebody happy.”
This woman got so many hugs, let me tell you. Samantha filled this weird, doll-shaped hole in my childhood. Some of you are probably thinking, “Oh, that’s your childhood trauma? First world problems.” Believe me, I recognize that if the greatest tragedy of my life was “I didn’t get an American Girl doll,” I have had it really easy. But nobody can control their emotions or what affects them how. My childhood self had a need that the awesome candy store lady was able to fill, like some childhood toy disappointment guardian angel. And when she gave me that doll, I felt like she was giving it to eight-year-old Jenny.
On Thursday, I will share all the ways I annoyed my trip mates with Samantha for the rest of the time we were up there.