Hey Dummy! Look Alive!

The kids and I were talking the other day and I was saying that it’s a shame that we can’t decorate our houses with things that stores and restaurants are allowed to decorate with. For example: The giant horses at PF Changs. Why can’t I have them on either side of my front door? It would be handy, when giving people directions to our house, to say, “Turn onto Barcelona and we’re the house with the giant cement horses out front.” In your face, goose with the raincoat!

PF Changs also has big murals of Chinese people in colorful jackets and big hair, and they have ceiling lights that look like huge gold drums with light diffusing out of them in a soft, pleasing way that makes your food taste better.

I said, “Too bad you have to own a restaurant to have this cool stuff. Why can’t we have stuff like this for our house? Like mannequins in stores. Why can’t mannequins be for the home?”

Nobody agreed with me and some people in my family ignored me. Others weren’t listening to me in the first place.

If we had mannequins, though, we could dress them up, try our outfits out on them, decorate them for football games and holidays. Try different hairstyles with them (unless you had one of those bald, faceless artsy ones. Those are in the red zone of the creep-ometer and they would definitely not work as home mannequins). Not to mention you could set them near a window when you went out for the evening and would-be robbers would think there was someone home. Someone wearing a Browns hat and holding an orange and brown pom-pom.

The closest I’ve come to having my own personal mannequin is the hairdresser’s head that someone gave me. It was attached to a vise so I could clip it to a tabletop and comb its real hair. I thought my daughter would like it, but she said it scared her. The first couple of nights it was in her room she put a towel over it and then she unscrewed it and gave it to her brother. He put a Browns hat on her and made a fool of her. And I don’t think he combed her hair even once.

Last spring, I was at the empty creepy mall in Lexington and Dillard’s was going out of business and was selling, among other store display items, mannequins. I wanted to buy one so badly, but my daughter’s room was the only place that made any sense to put it, and if she couldn’t handle the hairdresser’s head, there was no way she was going to sleep at night with a full-sized fake woman in her room.

When I was little I had an appreciation for mannequins. I used to love to hang out with the mannequins when my mom and I were shopping at downtown McKelvey’s and Strauss’. Sometimes I would hold their hands – their cold, hard, smooth hands. I’d look into their eyes and see if I could see any signs of life. Some of them didn’t have tops on, were under construction and had that waistline incision showing. I’m sure there are people still alive in Youngstown who still talk about the little girl pretending that the mannequin is her mother.

Then that Twilight Zone show was aired about the mannequins - the scariest show (in idea/concept and in suspense/unknown and in having a scene where it’s real quiet and a girl is walking alone in a deserted department store after hours and suddenly there’s a noise). My sister Reenie was watching that show one night and screamed bloody murder and woke everyone in the house up. That story has become one of the True Laney Family Legends.

South Florida seems to have a thing with mannequins. I had three strange mannequin sightings all within a span of a couple of days. One, when we were in South Beach we saw mannequins with implants. Really, they were regular mannequins except for the fact that their boobs were huge.

Two, on that same trip to South Beach, we saw an old gangster car parked along Ocean Drive and in it was a fake man in the driver’s seat. He was smoking a fake cigarette, which had fallen from his lips, but was hanging on by a silver wire.

And three, in West Palm, we saw a mannequin posed outside a used car lot, dressed like a police officer, big mirrored trooper sunglasses and all, and it looked like he was reaching for his gun or his billy club.

“Why would . . . “ I started to ask. My son said, “He’s like a scarecrow.” Except that if you were wanting to steal a car from this car lot, wouldn’t you notice that the policeman standing out there never once moved an inch. Even in the pitch black of night, you wouldn’t have to stake out the place for very long to figure out that the guard was either asleep, frozen solid, dead, paralyzed or a mannequin. And none of these scenarios is going to thwart you much from stealing a car.

I have to admit, I kinda wanted to steal him and take him to my house. Get him out of that stiff, scratchy cop uniform and put a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt on him and a Browns cap.

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