Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Drive: Day Three (Or: Why I despise the American Girl Cafe)

I know, I know, I'm a wee bit late on this!  But I can't leave anything incomplete (even if I am perfectly okay with letting it languish that way for a while!) so I had to get this going.  Better late than never, right?!

Let's recap a little.  The drive on Day 2 just seemed to go on forever, and although there were no major catastrophes, a minor traffic snarl here, a longish lunch there, and we were staring down arriving in Maine at close to midnight.  Mick's mom had suggested meeting for dinner on our way North (my in-laws live outside Boston), and that morphed into our staying at a hotel and spending the night.

So, we arrived, we all went to a late dinner with Gram and Grampa, and we slept in the next morning.

We called Mick's mom when we were finally moving and up, and she came and met us for a late breakfast/early lunch. Trouble was because we were at that awkward hour, we had a hard time thinking of what would work.  Since our hotel was about, oh, five seconds from a major and fabulous mall, we decided to just go to the mall and see our options.

Mistake #1.

Because you know, anything you do at a mall will take longer than necessary, and my mother-in-law needed to get to work!   We probably should have found a sandwich shop or something.

Anyway, when we got there, Mick checked out the mall directory and saw that they had an American Girl Cafe.  Now back in February, CAM and I went to the AGCafe in Atlanta, and I have told Mick ever since how impressed I was -- how the food was very good, reasonably priced, and just how much food we got.  I remember that CAM and I ate for less than $30 including tip, which was in my mind not unreasonable, and we'd had plenty of food to spare and the kids adored it.  Maybe it was just that it was Atlanta, or maybe it was that we were with the group of Kindermusik girls that all loved each other so much, or maybe -- well, who knows.  But in February the servers were wonderful, and they really made it a memorable experience for the girls and I have been so complimentary of the whole experience for a while now.  So it made sense that Mick saw the AGCafe on the directory and suggested we eat there.  It would be a treat and a fun, spontaneous extra-special way to start our new lives in New England.

Mistake #2.  If all the good stuff I had to say wasn't foreshadowing enough impending irony, just wait.

You see, we didn't have reservations and they weren't quite open yet (we had about ten minutes 'til they were open).  And we were about to find out that the menu had changed and the prices were significantly different from our little experience in February.

So, we waited.  And waited.  And -- in case you missed it -- we didn't. have. reservations.  So we waited some more.  (Not because they were full, but because apparently they were saving their 50 empty tables for some groups that were surely going to arrive just as our food was set at our table.  Right?)

All around us, people were buying dolls and accessories and spending -- I kid you not -- probably well close to $1000 on these dolls.  You know, just because.  On a random Monday.  What a goldmine the American Girl creators created.  What a stinking goldmine!  We had time to kill, so we wandered the store and Mick was just amazed.  (What amazes me is that they have dolls and accessories for every possible permutation, including a girl going through chemo who's lost her hair, but they don't have a redhead.  Truly.  They have what they call a redhead, but her hair is brown.  So, even if I wanted to get CAM a doll, the whole "dress alike" thing that they promote and run their whole marketing plan on?  Out the door.  I do plan to get CAM an AG-like doll. It's called MyTwinn, and it's at the same outrageous price point, but we can really make it look like her.  CAM doesn't care about the American Girl stuff, but she does care about the dressing the same thing, and we can only achieve that with the MyTwinn dolls.) 

Anyway, finally it's our turn.

We are seated and check out the menus.  Oh, brother.  At this point, we should have walked out.  Because it was $15 per person, and $7.50 for WHM, and oh, yes:  my daughter who eats NOTHING?  She's five now.  Clearly, she must be forced to order from the adult menu, where she gets an appetizer, a full meal, and -- oh, right -- no dessert.  Desserts are extra, unless you're still a kid.  So not only do we have to pay an outrageous amount of money for food we'll end up leaving, but on top of that, her little brother will get a dessert and she won't.  Brilliant.  At this point I'm thinking of Jen who blogs at People I Want to Punch in the Throat, thinking, American Girl Cafe needs a punch in the throat, and pronto. 

Oh, and drinks?  Extra.  Mick was beside himself.  We were staring down a $100 lunch and he was already peeved about the wait, but we were locked in.  You can't sit at a table at the AG Cafe with your five-year-old daughter and then say, "Whoops!  I'm over this place!  Gotta go, honey!"

So, we stayed.  Mick stewed.  And it proceeded to get worse at every turn.  Their servers clearly work on commission because our server only tried to sell us their "celebration" package about 99 times.  Upsell, upsell, upsell.  Sorry, lady, do you see that we are even using the store's loaner American Girl doll?  We do not want to upgrade to the celebration package for an extra $12.  Thank you.  Now please. Mick ordered his Diet Coke without ice and you have so far refilled it with ice three times.  Do you see how miserable he is?  He's making us allllll miserable.  Fix it.  Now.  Thank you.

CAM and Gram.  No one was happy.
 Anyway, $100 later (thanks, Gram -- I'm pretty sure you intended to make the AG Cafe a fun memory and look what we got instead, sorry!), we were done, we were all grumpy, and we were on our way -- Meredith to work, Mick and the kids and I to Maine.

Since it had been such a charming brunch and we were all so happy about it, and I was so sick over the move to begin with, I think I cried all the way to Maine.  (Okay, maybe not really.  But there was definitely some crying.  In between belting out "5-1-5-0 somebody call the Po-Po" with the kids.  Who sing it with the most awesome twangs ever, by the way.)  Welcome to reality, chickadee, welcome to reality.

I have no idea how Mick got so far ahead of me.
 It wasn't long before we were out of Massachusetts, on the tiny stretch of 95 that is in NH, and we were heading straight to Maine ...

And honestly, my crazy emotions aside, the drive was great.  The weather was perfect and the drive, since we were leaving right around lunchtime, was easy-peasy.  It took us right around 2 1/2 hours, and we arrived at the house in Maine.  Perfectly smack in the afternoon without anything to rush us and make the day terrible.  We went in, unwound, and unpacked only as much as we felt like doing.  The kids got to run around in the yard and play and really, it was a perfectly pleasant afternoon. 

When you travel 95 North through NH into Maine, you cross the Piscataqua River at the border.  Halfway over the bridge you change from NH to Maine.  I love this picture.  I think I've taken this same picture a dozen times on our various trips.
And here we are.  I don't think we'll be heading back to the American Girl Cafe pretty much, well, ever, but we're settling in nicely, I've got a job, and the kids are adjusting -- now, if only we could get their rooms unpacked!  Sigh.  The never-ending project.

But now you know!


1 comment:

  1. Wow! I had an American Girl doll.. I got it as a birthday gift in 4th grade because my parents wanted to make sure I would appreciate it. In hindsight that is a little old to get the doll.

    Sucks you had such a bad expierence. Can't believe they didn't have kid friendly food.