The Rise of the Control Freak

Tony Reinke | December 10, 2015

It’s 10:30 in the morning on January 1, 2015, and my new year is off to a pre-caffeinated start. My inner fog is contrasted by 100 cheering girls bouncing around me, gathered here with their parents in the large rotunda of the Mall of America for the annual unveiling of the American Girl doll of the year. Most of the girls have dragged their dolls from home for the occasion; my daughter brought me. And I’m clearly not the only dad who loves a little girl enough to endure the Minneapolis tundra for a small party.

Thankfully I see a coffee shop in the distance, so my odds of survival are good, but for now I’m stuck in line with a pack of squealing, doll-toting girls.

Eventually we’re chosen to enter the roped-off area, and in the inner sanctum my daughter goes off to craft and explore, and I go off to settle into a rare folding chair I spot beside one of two towering 40-foot shimmering Christmas trees. A sound system pumps out contemporary pop hits which echo around the concrete and glass space. Not far from me a plump and eager middle-aged woman, caught up in the excitement of the moment…

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