yup - winnie, lilcee and i were headed to royal t cafe, where the current star of the show was three apples - a exhibition celebrating 35 years of hello kitty. oh, yes. and you have to be a huge fan to get through this post, because i'm warning you - it is hard. core. hello. kitty. pop some popcorn or something and get comfy.
i was super obsessed with hello kitty and friends when i was younger. like, i got presents from the sanrio store for holidays and birthdays and spent every single penny i had on more stuff. i had to have hello kitty everything - school supplies, backpacks, pencil cases, stationery, stickers, you name it. and i couldn't get enough. for some reason, even ordinary items like an eraser was magical when it sported that hello kitty image. and, well, back then, the erasers and colorful pens smelled pretty, too. i turned in homework assignments and classwork scrawled in pink and purple and baby blue ink, on colorful hello kitty notebook paper. such a geek.
as i got older, i grew out of the hello kitty phase - but not completely. i was still drawn to the pens and keychains and other things that were useful at any age. i bought some stuff for the teen when she was little, but she wasn't nearly as enchanted as i was, given all the other things available to little girls like barbie, bratz, and polly pocket.
so i was excited in the days and hours leading up to my HK-extravaganza with the girls - lilcee is more into it than i am these days, but that's because i won't let myself get obsessed again. that shit ain't in the budget, and the stuff i want can't be scooped up for $1 and $2 here and there anymore. heh. i already knew that there was quite a line, based on tweets i'd read by nanette and text messages i was getting from lilcee. so as i got closer, i got my camera ready and aimed it towards the street. keeping my eyes on the road in front of me, of course, i snap, snap, snapped as i drove by slowly:
holy shit, right? and that line just kept going...and going...
there wasn't any parking to be found, so i pulled up alongside lilcee, who'd scored on a nice spot just around the corner. we briefly considered giving up and coming back during the week, when it would surely be less crowded, but then decided it was worth a shot. hell, we were already out there, and it's certainly not a quick drive from the thimble i live in, out in BFE. as i drove behind the cafe on my quest for parking, i saw this:
winnie and i eventually decided to live dangerously, pulling into an empty lot down the street from lilcee's parking spot. there were all sorts of menacing signs posted, saying things like "premises are recorded 24 hours a day from an offsite location," but i knew that was just a scare tactic. besides, it was a saturday afternoon in an industrial area that only operates monday-friday. we found lilcee, already in line, and stood together excitedly. then she revealed that she'd overheard that the line was only for entrance into the store that carried limited-edition HK merchandise. immediate entry was available for those who wished to go to the cafe or simply view the art exhibits. and so we sashayed up to the front of the line, showed our ID (we'd arrived at the start of happy hour, so cocktails were being served), were given red wristbands, and walked in.
the first thing we saw was the "hello kitty apartment" - a fantastic space right in the front of the shop that was set up with everything HK you could imagine. and more. we wanted to move in right away.
this little display showed artwork representing every year of HK's existence.
i was drawn like a moth to a flame to these displays of vintage HK items. i recognized so many pieces as items i'd proudly owned back in elementary and middle school, and wished i'd kept it all. i wonder what happened to it - although my mom did find my ceramic HK bank and gave it back to me recently. of course, like everything else we own, it's in storage.
although i had no idea who she was, lilcee whispered "that's the designer of hello kitty!" we approached the table and found that they were selling souvenir books for her to autograph...for $35. um, no. i snapped this [blurry] picture for free, yo.
HK haute couture.
we took a peek into the cafe, where folks were happily munching on hello kitty-themed eats. lilcee put her name on the list and was given a 1.5 hour wait time. we figured that would be just fine - we wanted to hang around and look at everything anyway.
i couldn't get over these grown folks, dressed in costume. really? really?!? and they weren't alone. there were hordes of crazies like this all over the damn place.
i managed to sneak a photo of this woman, sporting a hello kitty bow and tons of body art, while pretending to snap away at the wall o'stuffed HKs behind her. she was kinda scary, and i knew she could probably snap me in two with one hand tied behind her back. i wasn't the only one who wanted to capture her image, though.
at the bar.
winnie and i had seen a couple of dudes lugging these to their cars as we strode to meet up with lilcee. i would've loved to scoop one up for the next trip we take, but...yeah.
the store was visible through glass walls that separated it from the rest of the cafe. as we peered in, we ooh'ed and aah'ed over the super cute things for sale, and lilcee breathed "i'm getting in line. i've gotta have some of that stuff!"
and so we found ourselves in line again, way back by the ice cream truck. we were happy to note that the girl we'd been standing behind the first time was already halfway to the front of the line. we hadn't been gone long - obviously, that meant the line was moving along steadily, right?
there was an employee dedicated to monitoring the line and keeping everyone informed of what the line was for and what they could expect. we asked her how long the wait currently was, and she said she thought it was about an hour and a half. perfect - we could get in, do the shop, and still go have our hello kitty-themed tea! she was really nice, and although they were out of the silly little HK paper hats, she did hand us these stickers.
we stood in line and chatted about our day at the getty, caught up on facebook/twitter via iPhone, and giggled excitedly as the sun went down and the sky went dark. and sure enough, an hour and a half later, we were at the front of the line. lilcee had gone back into the cafe to let them know that we were waiting to get into the store and asked them to push us back a bit to give us some shopping time. luckily, they were quite accommodating despite the crowds of people in the store.
of course, we found that once inside the front door, there was another line right inside, but it was a short one, and there was lots to look at while we waited.
like these creepy ass dolls. how'd you like to wake up in the middle of the night and find these leering over you?
this louis vuitton bag was in a locked display case. i didn't even realize it was an LV until i looked closely and found that the signature monogram was quilted into the hot pink velour.
this adorable jewelry was also on display. there were pieces by tarina tarantino and kimora lee simmons, and i wanted it all. heh.
at last, we were granted entrance into the store. there was so much freaking cute stuff jammed in that little space, and winnie and i were snap-happy as we wandered through it all. you know the drill - my pics are all about quantity, while hers will most definitely be all quality.
i was slightly bummed that i hadn't waited to buy a new iPhone case, but then again, i'd only spent $10. these were more like $30. but oh, so awesome.
$30 seemed to be quite a magic number in there. i was appalled at the silly HK bow headbands that were piled up, priced to sell. good god. but we all giggled like mad as lilcee plopped one on and then struck that classic asian pose.
hello kitty, the tatted-up version. yes, i realize these are part of the HK-tokidoki collaboration.
the hub would kill me if i tried to put this stuff in our kitchen. don't think i didn't want it, though.
if i played golf (which i don't, because i lack the patience), these would be in my bag. but they'd not ever be used. decoration only.
these reminded me of the stuff i used to keep in my backpack.
i wanted these desperately, but they didn't come cheap. made by loungefly, they commanded prices ranging from $35-$60. ouch.
this was a catalog of 35th-anniversary-themed items, with a few goodies tucked inside.
super emo hello kitty - more loungefly paraphernalia.
there were the most adorable little bags and wallets. come on, these are delightful, you gotta admit.
not finding a price tag on this bright box, lilcee questioned the man standing at the counter. "those are $100," he replied. at our slackjawed expressions, he explained "they're limited edition - only 500 pieces were made, and we only got 100 of them here." uh, okay. you go on with your bad self, mister. we'll stick to the single- and double-digit prices over here.
i'd given myself a tiny budget that i was determined to stick to, and i decided i had to have this cute little keychain.
more random stuff.
need a flash drive? you'd be hard-pressed to find a cuter one than this.
even my receipt and shopping bag was adorned with the commemorative logo.
in the other store - the one that didn't require a 2-hour-wait for entry - there was even more HK stuff, albeit a bit more upscale.
here's a closer look at some of the fine-jewelry stuff. i want one of those watches like you wouldn't believe. the pink one, preferably, if santa's reading.
some of the non-HK stuff:
it was finally time to sit down and eat. whew! as we headed up to the podium to check in, i spied this dainty little display of miniatures. i was amazed at the detail and wished i could play with it. yes, because i am 6.
the hostess looked surprised to see us, and remarked "i didn't think you guys would actually come back!" heh. but look at this sweet little menu! no way was i going to pass this up. the others agreed.
despite the lateness of the hour, we ordered the high tea set. fancy!
i went to the potty (remember, i'm 6) and kicked myself for leaving my camera at the table. but, not to be deterred, i went back, scooped it up, and made a beeline back for the stall - because i HAD to show you this:
not long after i returned to the table, snorting over hello kitty toilet paper, the food came. we were squiggly with delight over how adorable it was:
it took quite a while for us to calm down and actually eat the food - it was just too cute for words. i now want a hello kitty waffle maker with everything i have. too bad it's not readily available anymore. i used to see that stuff at target for like $10, and now the only one i can find is on amazon for $40, or packaged with a popcorn popper at costco for $50. boo.
the other two had a slightly different wrapped cookie from mine.
as i munched - the delicate little morsels were just as yummy as they were cute - i took in the sights around me.
i licked the frosting off of the HK decoration that topped my mini cupcakes and found that they were rings. perfect - there hadn't really been anything age-appropriate for the bean in the store, so i decided this would do. i had to try it on myself first, though. engaged at three apples!
as this giant hello kitty wandered around the room, she was totally mobbed by adoring fans who clamored for a photo with her. and when she made her way over to us, lilcee jumped up to meet her.
after we were all chuckled out over that one, we got up to let someone else have our table. we'd discovered that there was a whole other room of art and vintage HK displays in the back, and although it was pretty late, we knew we had to go see it before we left.
outside, we realized that the sleek silver airstream behind the cafe was all decked out for the occasion, and open for tours. as we approached the door, the dude manning the entrance glanced over and said "sorry, it's closed for the evening." we slunk away, defeated, but lilcee was determined. "could we please just go in for just a minute? please?" she pleaded.
the guy hesitated for a nanosecond, and then opened the door. "you're lucky you guys are so cute," he said as we let out excited shrieks and climbed in. haha, creeper.
i'd trade my shitty apartment kitchen for this anytime. hell, the oven would probably work better.
hello kitty potty!
everything was so girly and pink and fluffy. i loved it.
there was one other girl inside, just as excited and camera-happy as we were. she took this for us, and then we reciprocated before we finally made our exit.
even more stuff.
we examined this thing closely for a few minutes before deciding that, after seeing what looked like camera lenses in the eyes, it must be a nannycam. verrrry clever, miss kitty. well played.
hello kitty roomba!
a chance at a crappy little stuffed animal cost $1. folks were lined up for this thing, mostly the guys who'd obviously been dragged by their hair into the exhibit.
more awesome stuff that i really want. i don't even play the guitar.
i remembered seeing these beach cruisers with HK tread at the bike store several years ago, and when i was ready to buy one, was dejected to learn that they'd been discontinued. bah!
on our way out, we stopped at that "hot air balloon" to take a group pic. we got the nice man who was working as the bouncer - yes, a BOUNCER, at a hello kitty event - to do it. he was the only person i trusted enough outside the three of us to actually hand my camera to and not worry that he'd run off with it.
outside, i finally got an unobstructed view of the giant HK decal that adorned the front window.
amazingly, we'd managed to kill over five hours there, between the lines and the store and the squealing and the tea and the giggling. hard core indeed.