Moms are good at bringing the magic of the holidays to their children. And sometimes the magic goes terribly, terribly wrong. Elizabeth Faidley’s ‘tail’ about when she ordered a mermaid doll for her daughter, and it turned out to be scary and also filled with cocaine, is the ultimate example of how far a mother will go to try to bring Christmas joy.
Faidley has posted the epic story on Facebook every year since it all fell apart, but this year it’s going viral.
More than a million people watched a 2015 video of Faidley’s then 6-year-old daughter Ellie opening her Christmas present: a handmade ‘sea-baby’ doll for which Faidley paid 500 $ on Etsy. The doll has fuzzy green hair, scale painted skin, and a fin, and Ellie doesn’t.
Faidley, a single mom from Bergen County, New Jersey, says her daughter wanted Christmas to be a mermaid baby.
“Not just a mermaid, and not just a baby. A baby mermaid,” Faidley explains in his Facebook post.
“She was dreaming about the name Pearl,” Faidley told TODAY Parents. “She would have a real baby mermaid and it would be called Pearl. And as a mom, I would do anything to make sure she had what she wanted.”
When Ellie saw the doll, Faidley quickly realized that it was not the mer-baby of her daughter’s dreams.
“When I cut off the camera, I sat her down and she looked at the doll and said, ‘I wanted a pretty one,'” Faidley recalled. “And I said, ‘It’s not so much what’s on the outside as what’s on the inside. And then we had a whole discussion – it was a learning moment – and I was like, ‘You’re going to be able to love Pearl because she’s sweet. I cuddled her and wrapped her in a blanket doll that had her name on it, and she said to me, “I’m never going to touch that doll. There are things wrong with that doll, mom.”
One of Ellie’s biggest concerns about Pearl was her green hair, so Faidley bought several coloring kits in an attempt to dye the doll’s hair blonde.
“I tried so many times to dye it,” Faidley said. “My babysitters would come by one by one and see me in the bathroom with the hair dye and put a net on Pearl and the babysitters would be like, ‘Elizabeth, never mind. “Once Ellie said, ‘Listen, Mom, this is only getting worse, let it go.'”
But Faidley didn’t give up on making her daughter’s Christmas dreams come true, so she found a doll and teddy bear hospital in New Jersey and contacted them to make the doll more visually appealing.
“I call them immediately and find that it is run by a very strict and serious group of Germans. They take their doll and teddy bear hospital very seriously,” Faidley explained in his message. “They are interested in seeing Pearl’s ‘condition’ and will then give me an estimate of all the cosmetic work that needs to be done to make her ‘lovely’…I pack Pearl in a box and address it to the doll I tell Ellie that Pearl is going to the hospital to get her face and hair “adjusted” Ellie sagely informs me that “Pearl has even more problems than these” Then she continues to write on the box: “Please, please help this doll. She has so many problems.”
More problems, it turned out, than even a doll hospital could solve. After sending $500 to the Doll Hospital for needed upgrades, Faidley received a shocking phone call while she was giving music lessons.
“He was a detective from the Secaucus Police Department,” Faidley’s post continues. “The detective tells me that the Germans called the police at the doll hospital that morning. When they removed Pearl’s head to repaint her offensive skin, they found two ounces of COCAINE. STUFFED INTO HER HEAD .”
Faidley managed to persuade the detective that she was innocent, explaining her desperate search on Etsy for a mer-baby for her child. Faidley recalled the conversation that followed: “The detective then said, ‘You spent the money on that doll? Have you ever heard of Ariel? She’s a pretty mermaid. purchase at any Disney store.'”
After authorities checked her out and determined she had no previous drug convictions, Faidley learned she was no longer a suspect – but Pearl is expected to remain in the possession of the Drug Enforcement Agency as evidence.
Ellie was okay with that.
Later, Faidley learned that Pearl had been purchased from an Alabama-based Etsy shop that used their mer-baby dolls as a front for smuggling drugs.
“We got the wrong idea,” Faidley said. “It was my first time in a drug spy situation – I’m a violin teacher – but I guess they were selling these terrible, ugly sirens to idiots like me who spend $500 on Etsy because that they’re like, ‘Nobody’s going to buy these, but it looks legit. They had a fake store but I burst in, ‘Here’s your money! Send me a sea-doll!” So they accidentally sent me a head full of cocaine.”
“The detective was like, ‘Your help in this sting is so appreciated. We already have the person in Alabama.’ I guess they were trying to get her to turn on her boss,” Faidley continued. “That’s all I know. I pushed him to find out more, because I obviously wanted to know, but he said the rest was ‘need to know’.”
After clearing her name with DEAs in New Jersey and Alabama, Faidley contacted the Doll Hospital in an attempt to recover her money for Pearl’s repairs.
“They refused to talk to me after Pearl was taken away because they thought the drugs belonged to me, so I literally had to call and tell them, ‘THE DRUGS DON’T GET ME!’ until they talk to me,” Faidley said.
Eventually, she got her money back.
Faidley says that while the story is funny now, it wasn’t then.
“I didn’t post it for a year because no one knew,” Faidley said. “At the time, I was like, ‘What if someone comes looking for his missing head?’ But after a year, I posted about it. At first, I only shared it with my friends and family, so this is the first time the whole world has heard about Pearl.”
Faidley’s daughter is now 10 and remembers her mer-baby well.
“She still thinks I shouldn’t have bought Pearl and she doesn’t know what was wrong with me,” Faidley said. “She will attest to Pearl’s rudeness and the fact that she knew there was something wrong inside. We just didn’t know it was cocaine.”
Here is a video about the dolls (not the cocaine):
This story was originally published in 2019. We will update it every year because it is awesome.