I know there’s been some controversy regarding these recently, what with young kids being told to go out and get abortions or something, but I don’t care.
I love my American Girl doll!
I know what you’re going to say.
“You’re a 30 year old man, you like women, you went out and bought an $87 doll from a website: THAT’S A GREAT IDEA!”
And you’re right: it is a great idea! I named her Cristifina Filipkowski, after my brother’s childhood imaginary friend who died of neglect. What brought me to this life-altering decision?
Some would call it genius marketing but I have a different word for it: kismet. Look it up.
“Just like you. It’s your story, your star! Choose a doll, clothes, and accessories that tell a story all your own. For ages 8+.”
Just like me? I’ve always wanted something “just like me”. My whole life, I’ve felt ripped off because I wasn’t a twin. I’ve hated and blamed my parents all my life for not being a twin but with Cristifina in my life, I feel the healing can now begin. I’m a star!
Tell a story? I love writing! How did you know?!? This is getting spooky now!
For ages 8+? That’s me! OMG! I am so excited!
But which doll to choose? There’s so many to pick from.
Well, cross off the minority ones right off the bat. While I often feel alienated from society, like an outsider, I’m looking for a doll who’s “just like me” and I don’t want to co-opt anyone’s culture.
That leaves the white ones. I don’t have curly hair, I’m not blonde… the list is getting narrower… I need the one that’s truly “just like me”… Here we go!
“Light skin, red hair, blue eyes”
Just like I have! I had found the doll that was “just like me”! I think you’ll agree, the resemblance is remarkable.
Now it was time to place my order, sit back and wait and start telling stories of my (our) own!
When Cristifina arrived, I was not disappointed. She was a beauty and her resemblance to her paternal great-grandmother was dead-on. I took her out of the box and welcomed her into the world.
“You are special,” I told her, as I cradled her in my arms, “there’s no one in the world just like you except me.”
I kissed her gently on her forehead and rocked her back and forth. I was so happy! For the first time in my life, I felt complete! Thank you, American Girl!
I had also purchased the “Kickin’ Back” outfit for $26 and as I changed my doll into her cropped pants, diagonal-striped tank and green hoodie, I could barely contain my excitement at the thought of showing her off to all my friends!
I packed her extra clothes and accessories into the $38 “Backpack for Girls” (yes, I think that’s sexist too) and we were off.
We were off to the local watering hole to meet up with some friends. As I strode into the bar, we immediately became the center of attention.
“Cool sandals!” enthused a normally surly-looking biker from his bar stool.
Three 20-something girls walked right up to us, drinks in hand. “Oh my god, she is adorable, what’s her name?” one asked me.
“Cristifina,” I said with pride.
“She is too cute! I have a hoodie just like that!”
And the night pretty much went like that.
People wanted to hold my doll, give her a hug, get their picture taken with her. She was a hit. We were a hit.
It was one magical night. Unfortunately, it would be our only magical night.
My story with Cristifina Filipkowski ends there. I’m sorry it’s not the fairy tale you may have been hoping for. If you want to stop reading here, I don’t blame you, but you’ll be missing out on a cautionary tale that anyone who has ever given their heart to someone unconditionally will be able to relate to.
When you meet someone online, you’re not really getting to know them, you’re getting to know who and what they want you to see about themselves. It’s an idealized version of who they are.
If I had known the real Cristifina Filipkowski, I would have never taken her anywhere that served alcohol. Not in a million years. But I didn’t know that side of her. The ugly side, so full of pain. The side that didn’t really like who she was and certainly didn’t know how to love herself. The side that tried to bury all her problems at the bottom of a bottle.
I’m not going to recount all her awful behavior that night. I’m not looking for revenge, I’m not “venting”. I don’t want to slam her. She’s a good kid and we really could have made something out of this and I hope one day, when some time has passed, we can start over as friends.
As we left the bar that night, Cristifina was flying high. I didn’t think anything of it, at first. She was new in town, had just been getting acquainted with me and all my friends. I understood she was probably nervous and looking to unwind a bit. But when we stepped out into the cool, night air, she became a different person. As I went to get my car from the valet, I took my eyes off of her for maybe 30 seconds, but when I turned around she was making out with the biker who had complimented her sandals earlier. The sandals I bought her.
“Cristifina,” I said, my voice heavy with hurt, “baby, what are you doing?”
She broke off her kiss with the biker and turned to face me with nothing resembling love. “Who are you calling “baby”? I’m not your fucking baby!” she screamed at me.
“Please, Cristifina, you’re making a scene,” I pleaded with her.
“I’m making a scene? I’m making a scene? You bring a fucking doll to a bar and I’m the one making a scene?” the words came from someone I thought I knew but clearly didn’t and that’s what hurt the most.
“I think you’ve had too much to drink, let’s go home before you say or do anything you’re going to regret later,” I tried to reason with her.
“What the fuck did you just say? Are you fucking threatening me?” asked a hysterical Cristifina Filipkowski.
She pulled out the “Cuttin’ and Stabbin'” switchblade I had bought for her ($23) and waved it at me in a menacing fashion.
This cleared the crowd out pretty quickly.
I backed away, trying to hasten my exit before the cops got there.
“Are you crying, you little faggot?” she asked me, mockingly.
It was true, I was crying. If things weren’t going to work out with us, fine, I can deal with that. But seeing her this way broke my heart. All I ever really wanted was for us to be happy.
“I’m sorry, Cristifina, I hope you can find some peace, someday.” I genuinely meant it.
“I’m serious, asshole. Get the fuck out of my face before I cut you!”
I didn’t need to be told twice. I heard the sirens as I ran for my car. I guess she got out of there too because I didn’t see any mention of her in the police reports in the paper.
I really do want to thank American Girl. I don’t regret my experience in any way. You live, you learn and you move on, stronger and smarter than you were.
I know this is a company that has helped lots of young girls expand their imaginations and that is a great thing, I don’t begrude them that. I mean, I know the target customer for these dolls is not someone who’s likely going to bring their doll to a bar, so I don’t know if I see a need for any sort of rigorous background testing for drug and alcohol dependence.
I know Cristifina is a good person. I know that what I witnessed was a relapse. It’s an illness and to deny her the right to love would be as unfair as denying the same to a cancer patient.
I just wish it could have worked out because I know I could have made her so happy.