I hate McDonalds.
With the fire of a thousands suns does this hatred burn in my soul. Hate, I tell you. H-A-T-E.
I didn't have such a remarkable odium for the place until Ittybit was born and the lure of easy pancake breakfasts on the run attracted me like a mackerel to a live anchovy.
Because, you see, my failure as a mother is directly and concretely measured by the number of times we visit "Old MacDonald" each week instead of firing up the stove.
This week I'm 0 for 3.
However, from now until April 19th, it's not laziness and an inability to subvert the "cheese and whine" that's steering my car to the formidable Golden Arches – it's a fear of the warning: "while supplies last."
You see the Alexander Doll Company, makers of Madame Alexander dolls, has again teamed up with the fast food giant. This year the Happy Meal giveaway is one of eight, 4 ½ inch Wizard of Oz-themed dolls.
While I can resist the remarkably fragrant hotcakes and sausage biscuit sandwiches, and can forgo Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets completely, I can't pass up the toys. For decades I have had an addiction to the cutesy things all wrapped in plastic that Mickey D's been putting in its Happy Meals.
I'm so hooked, in fact, that the one thing I regret about my New Zealand honeymoon was passing up an opportunity to visit a makeshift Happy Meal toy museum in the little drinkwater town of Foxton, which boasted a million exhibits in its collection.
Until this latest promotion, though, I was able to resist temptation. The weird aliens and My Little Ponies didn't reach out and grab me with their wily plastic charms. I successfully adhered to a self-imposed rule of "only on days when the pancake batter runs out," usually a planned occurrence once a week.
But this Madame Alexander thing -- this nostalgic trip back to girlhood, a behind-the-glass plaything, something to admired more than played with if you were lucky enough to own one -– is too seductive. I NEED to collect all eight.
And that's what they want me to do. They want me to indulge my inner child while I indulge her growing one. They want to pamper the little girl hiding in the pockets of my maternity wear who, as a youngster, coveted the super expensive baby dolls that's only purpose is to decorate beds. These dolls, mothers would explain, are not for touching. They are not for dragging around by the hair. They are special.
My childhood Madame Alexander Doll – "Beth" from the Little Women series – is still in its original box in my parents' bedroom closet. It was stored there throughout my formative years, taken down once in a while and shown to me so I could ‘ooh and ah’ at its beauty. But it was clear, the doll was not to be molested in any way.
It was similar to my dealings with the Lionel train set in my father's collection, which came out each Christmas and circled the tree. The only difference was we got to play with the train eventually once my dad had given us the refresher course on engineering, which usually lasted at least a week and included various tests in the art of breaking and reversing.
Now it was my turn.
When I opened the bag to dispense the breakfast fare and complementary toy and saw the doll staring up at me I froze. It was Dorothy. She even had Ruby Slippers. I threw the napkins over the package and hauled out the hotcakes before she had time to inquire after the prize.
She was so famished she forgot all about the toy, and my greedy self decided not to remind her. "That doll is special," I thought with the squinty eyes of calculation.
Eventually she remembered the loot. Grudgingly, I hauled Dorothy out of the package and handed it over. She named her new treasure "Pollycina, her crunchy doll," and immediately "combed" her hair into a do remarkably similar to an ’80s-era Flock of Seagulls catastrophy.
I watched in horror but could say nothing. I knew what I had to do. ... As soon as I dropped her off at the sitter's house I had a rendez-vous with a Drive-Thru.