Last year, I selected a 10-year-old girl to shop for. She wanted craft items, and I had a lot of fun buying everything from paint sets to jewelry-making kits. So I figured I’d have fun this year, too.
I left the town hall and headed directly to a department store in Concord. I didn’t look at the wish list until I was inside. It said, “Doc McStuffins items.”
I just stood there, having no clue whatsoever who or what Doc McStuffins was. My first thought was pajamas – like the Doctor Dentons from my childhood days. I headed to the kids’ sleepwear department. There, I approached a female clerk about my age.
“Do you have Doc McStuffins?” I asked her.
She stared blankly at me.
“I think they’re pajamas,” I added. “For little girls.”
The clerk helped me look through the pajamas. We found every type imaginable, with pictures on them of every children’s character ever created, but there was nothing about Doc McStuffins.
“Well, if Doc McStuffins isn’t pajamas,” I said to the clerk, “what could it be?”
She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Maybe it’s a stuffed animal! It might be a teddy bear or something dressed up in doctor’s clothes.”
That sounded logical. I rushed to the toy department and searched through a virtual zoo of stuffed animals but didn’t see anything that resembled a doctor…although a couple of them did remind me of my own doctor, especially when he doesn’t comb his hair.
I found a young male clerk in the toy department and asked him about Doc McStuffins. Again, I received a blank look. I was beginning to think that this doctor character was only a figment of the four-year-old’s imagination. Either that, or the little girl had just moved here from some obscure country where Doc McStuffins was some kind of local cult hero.
“I haven’t heard of it,” the clerk said. “Is it a game?”
I shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine. It could be a brand of mattress for all I know!”
He told me to wait a minute and he’d see what he could find out. He disappeared for a short while, then returned and said, “It’s a doll from Disney… and we’re all sold out. From what they tell me, it’s sold out everywhere and going for big bucks on eBay.”
I groaned. Leave it to me, I thought, to pick a child who wanted a gift that would require me to get into a hair-pulling match with a bunch of other women who were determined to buy the doll for their kids…that is, if I ever came across the doll. The problem was, I wouldn’t know it if I did because I had no clue what Doc McStuffins looked like. Was it male? Female? Knowing Disney, it even could be something like a talking wart hog.
I was about ready to admit defeat when I decided to stop at Toys R Us, just for the heck of it. Once inside, I headed straight for the doll aisle. I checked out so many dolls, I began to forget what a human face looked like. Finally, I tracked down a clerk…who appeared to be human.
I was so tired by then, I mistakenly blurted out, “Do you, by some miracle, have any Doctor McMuffin dolls?”
He smiled in amusement. “You mean Doc McStuffins?”
I burst out laughing. “God, I sound like I’m at McDonald’s!”
“I think I saw one in the preschool department,” he said. “Over this way.”
The entire time I was following him, I silently prayed he was leading me to what probably would be the last Doc McStuffins doll in the state. We finally arrived at an aisle that had a lot of empty spaces on the shelves. My heart sank. If Doc McStuffins had been there, I was pretty sure he or she now was one of those empty spaces.
The clerk stood there, rubbing his chin and staring at the shelves for a moment, then he moved aside a couple large Playskool toys and pulled out a small plastic package with some tiny figures in it.
“Here you go,” he said, smiling, and walked off.
I clasped the package to my chest and frantically looked around, making certain no one was going to jump out and grab it away from me. When I was certain the coast was clear, I finally looked at what I was holding. In the package was a small African American doll wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope. A glittery pink and purple doctor’s bag was in her hand. She looked no older than five or six. Next to her were several tiny stuffed animals sitting on an examination table. I figured she must be a veterinarian…for toy animals.
Clutching my newly found treasure, I rushed to the register to pay for it. The minute I got home, I looked up Doc McStuffins on eBay. The clerk at the department store had been right. The doll I’d just bought was selling for three times what I’d just paid for it. A variety of other Doc McStuffins toys were selling for even more.
Now I’m wondering if I should include a note with the gift, telling the little four-year-old, “Merry Christmas! But do not play with this! Wait a few years and sell it – it just might fund your college education.”