Today it was a watery iced Americano and I'm not even sure it was caffeinated. Starbucks can take over the world and sell the shit out of Ray Charles CDs, but they're not all that reliable in their ability to turn me from Eeyore into the MicroMachines Man. I think $1.75 worth of cocaine, which I'm guessing is like one granule, would have done a better job.
But cocaine is downright harmless compared to the Build-a-Bear Workshop, which is probably the creepiest fucking place on earth. I went in there yesterday for the first time ever, because Tita wanted to and I'm all for giving her the opportunity to soak up as much crass American consumerism as possible before she goes back to Brazil. My only experience with it before consisted of walking by it a bunch of times and muttering a little internal "wtf?" before continuing on. It's worse than I could have imagined. We're definitely talking a "Come and play with us Danny, forever and ever" level of fucked-upitude. First off, when you go in there you pick out a bear -- but not a real bear yet; it's just the shell of a bear at this point. Remember in Men in Black when the alien sucks out Vincent D'Onofrio's insides and leaves his skin as a suit? It's the teddy bear equivalent of that. You can't play with it yet because it has no stuffing and, more importantly, it has no heart. It's just this strange little hollow thing, but it still costs fifteen to twenty bucks. So you pick that up, your little hollowed-out yet-to-be-reanimated bear carcass, and drag it over to the stuffing machine. I don't understand how any kid makes it past this point. Wanting to actually see your bear stuffed is about as sensible as wanting to see your Big Mac slaughtered. Maybe worse. You know how they do it? They have the stuffing machine there, with all the cotton or whatever it is flying around in this giant clear plastic box, and a pipe comes out of the box to dispense the stuffing. You hand them your bear shell, and they STICK THE PIPE UP THE BEAR'S ASS to get the stuffing in. No, really. I'm stuck with that disturbing image the rest of my life. After the bear's stuffed to your liking, they take the pipe out of its ass and give you a little fuzzy heart to put inside the bear. You're supposed to kiss the heart before they put it in. This is, apparently, the moment that the bear turns from a lifeless object into a sentient fuzzy being. I guess birth certificates for Cabbage Patch Kids weren't creating enough of a God complex in kids, so the Committee for Excessive Toy Personification got together and figured out how to take things to the next level. Anyway, the bear technician takes the heart and shoves that, too, up the bear's ass, which is then sewn shut. Then you take the bear to the "bathtub" to "clean" it. There's no water in the bathtub, though, just a plastic surface and some hot-air blowers. I'm not sure what any of that is supposed to accomplish. Now that the bear is "clean" you spend another $50 or so on clothes and glasses and shoes and stuff to dress it up, and then the au pair hands over mom's AmEx card to seal the deal. Except first you're supposed to take the Build-a-Bear Oath, because every teddy bear purchasing experience needs a pinch of totalitarian discipline to be truly complete.
Then there was the saleswoman outside offering free "Save Elmo" stickers with every Elmo doll purchase. But I think I've caused enough people to throw up in their mouths for one day.