While trying to quickly make my very way through the local mall for Christmas of 2018, I was reminded of a funny story that happened to me way back when we were still newlyweds, maybe 1983ish. My wife was still finishing her graduate work and I was starting a new job that could prove to be a huge a career enhancement and pivot point as a technical instructor, which it did BTW. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news was that I may have over-sold my abilities to do this job just a bit – teaching a certain technology to corporate students; so I was really – really motivated and determined to succeed.
To make sure I didn’t disappoint my new manager, I was putting in something close to 60 hours per week and was, this one Christmas weekend, both desperately tired from work and stressed over not having found the perfect gift for my bride.
I had a few jewelry ideas that I thought both she would enjoy and I could afford, but was not finding something that both fit my perfect idea and my very much less than perfect budget.
I was dashing between multiple stores at the mall and had just run into yet another I thought had some promise of having what I was looking for, but as I slowed my pace, I noted that a female mannequin in the isle before me had a bracelet that looked compatible with my gift idea. I didn’t really want a bracelet, but perhaps I could make it work if I was unable to find what I was really looking for.
I went over to examine the bracelet more closely and was disappointed to see that it was not all close to what I was looking for and therefore wouldn’t work. Dang! I really hoped that it would at least be a decent option. I was really getting tired of not making progress on this gift idea and I really needed both rest and to solve this tonight before going home.
The mannequin was standing on a short square box that put its hand right at chest level so I could easily see that the bracelet was loose on its wrist. I really didn’t want to begin resume my race through the store looking for the women’s accessory department so I reached out with my finger to flick the bracelet around the mannequin’s wrist.
It didn’t spin as much as I would have expected from a plastic arm but the capricious act gave me enough time to notice the detail of this mannequin. I recalled hearing something on one of those business news radio shows about the current fad in mannequins was to make them as life-like as possible, so in this case, it meant that there were no exposed joints, like at the wrists. Wow, I thought, there are no wrist gaps on this mannequin.
Okay, all of the following happened in a few seconds. First I noticed the incredible workmanship and glanced at the hand and finger nails. Wow – they had to have molded this thing from a real woman, I thought, because it was too perfect. Even the skin looked multidimensional and not poured-plastic uniform and shiny. How did they do that; maybe a technique similar to what they do with wax museum replicas.
Second, I glanced up the arm and, yes, someone had even very believably added tiny arm hairs – amazing! This thing had to have cost a fortune.
I wanted to see how good this work of art really was so, third, I lifted my eyes to examine the face. I immediately chose to ignore the head hair because that I knew it would just be a wig. The lips and nose might be easy to make believable, but the eyes should be harder, but then again, I’d seen some amazing animal taxidermy but would that expense be used in the creation of a single mannequin?
Fourth, I bet myself that I could find a flaw. This was getting fun.
The lips, nose, chin and cheeks easily passed scrutiny so on to the eyes and wow, they — YIKES – just winked at me. . . ! THIS IS A REAL WOMAN. . . !
Maybe you saw it coming, but I (in my exhausted condition) didn’t and was so shocked that I almost fell backwards into a rack of name-brand purses and wallets. It was all I could do to not openly give away that I was at the edge of fight or flight mode. With great difficultly and trying to maintain some scrap of self-respect, I gathered what I could find of my composure and quickly and carefully walked away.
I don’t think my heart rate settled down until I was well through the dreaded make-up department and I found a place to stop and think-through how big of a fool I had made of myself. Seriously? A real human mannequin? Is that really a job these days?
Well, other than the fully operational and, presumably fully anatomically correct mannequin, that store was a complete bust regarding the gift I was looking for and I found it later at another store.
But, I’ll confess that, while I did walk back to the heart-stopping, non-mannequin gal who remained at her post and pose, not being noticed by anyone. This time I stood behind her and contemplated my potential options. I thought, how fair it would be if I were to stand close behind her, catch someone’s eyes as they walked towards her and silently mouth to them, “Watch this,” and quickly poke my fingers into her waist to get a rise out of her – but I was too chicken to actually do it. This woman had crushed me once already today and thought it best not see what other tricks she might have up her, umm — never mind; this clique is also too dangerous to mess with .
It’s bad enough to know that there is now some older woman out there somewhere telling her friends the story of how she was such a great mannequin one year that she scared the wits out of some poor guy.