Friday, September 26, 2014

My new companion

Confession: [I seem to do that a lot here] I have a thing for mannequins that I think stems from an incident as a young adult – and I blame my mother.

She and I were downtown Cincinnati walking across the Pogue's bridge between the store and parking garage. That should give you a clue as to how long ago it was. Of the three or four major department stores in town when I grew up, Pogue's was the smaller and more upscale of them. It closed in the 1980s. I digress. As we were tromping over the street on the enclosed bridge, I looked down into onto the street and a dumpster full of precious treasure: full-body, lime green, flocked female mannequins. Stiff limbs outstretched as if awaiting rescue. Patient to find a good home. MY home. Someone had actually thrown them out. No matter how much I bargained, I could not convince my mother to help me retrieve them, let along finagle them into the trunk. "All you'd have to do is hoist me," I pleaded. Wasn't like it was illegal or anything, but it was broad daylight. My mind raced with the possibilities as I churned over how to get them myself. Impossible. I had to let that one go.

Over the years, I have tried to replace those glowing-green gals. I even dream about them sometimes. Where would they be now? How would I have used them? Would they still be flocked or well-worn?

I once invested in a soft-grey sewing form, later to find a lone mannequin head that I pieced together to attend my 1950s bar cart and several Halloween parties. Kids came and she was relegated to the basement. No room and her constant lurking in the shadows always caught me off guard. I resold her to an equally ecstatic guy, whom I am certain gave her a very creative, loving home. I hope. The head is somewhere floating in the basement, along with Sheniqua. She's a cosmetologist's  model. The kind with flowing hair and a face ripe for make-up. I inherited her because my aquatics instructor's family was spooked by her. Mine was, too, so she's hidden and will give whomever finds her a jolt.

What is this pleasure derived from body parts? I do have a dark side and sense of the macabre, but there's just something so darned interesting about these half-finished creatured. They can become almost anything. A canvas of sorts.

So it as with much pleasure I stumbled upon a crop of them freshly delivered to the local St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop a few nights ago. "Guy on a Harley with black trailer dropped them off," the attendant offered as he was cooping them up for the night. "They be here in the morning?" I asked, wanting to make sure my studio could accommodate another object and knowing I may be moving. "Yeah, they're not even priced yet and we may be keeping a few."

Lily was with me as I inspected the crated lot: one VERY tall one on a collapsable stand, a few short one on pedestals and some teetering on their own from the buttocks up. All very clean except for one with rings around the appropriate appendages. I posted a photo on Facebook and most comments asked what I was waiting for ... thinking time, how I could justify these purchase.

When I realized we were making a scary movie for the next Artsy Fartsy Saturdays, the arts exploration for 4-6th graders I lead, I knew who the star could be ... part from the kids, that is. I was all set to return the next morning before they were gobbled up.

Only I didn't. Other things reared their heads that morning and I traipsed off to the studio totally forgetting my mission of the night before. Something made me remember -- maybe a call from the lifeless forms themselves echoing how their flocked cousins had bellowed to me years ago. Maybe my sense of adventure and fun. 

Who knows, but I returned to the store to see them all boldly displayed outside, front and center. I was elated and began choosing. A different attendant from the previous night encouraged me to look closely because missing parts prevented them from attaching to the stands. Ooohhh, that changed things. He pointed to the tall one with the rings. "She's the one that works," he said pushing her form higher up on the metal bars until she reached an intimidating height. I had almost settled on her until we realized she could not be separated from her stand and how problematic moving and storing her could be. So, I removed the tag from one that stood on her own haunches and looked pretty clean. "Good thing you didn't pick the one who looks like her boobs were dragged through the mud," the cashier congratulated me. Silently, I think we both wondered what happened to her on that ride behind the Harley in a trailer. I am envisioning a Stephen King story now.

I paid, then swept her under my arm and was about to whisk her into the trunk, when a woman who could have caught a fly by the way her face was positioned in gawking at me remarked: "What the heck are you gonna do with that?" I quickly replied "Halloween," which wasn't a complete lie, but not entirely the truth either. No matter the season, I would have bought her.

No imagination, I thought, then changed my mind about the trunk and placed her next to me in the front, passenger's seat: my new companion.

• What makes me crazy with creativity?
• Are there certain things that really get my juices flowing?
• When have I made an insane purchase based on nothing but elation?
• How come some just can't see the possibilities?
• When does my (inner) artist come out to play?

enraptured from
the moment the
sun struck their
felty neon skin

only to NOT
possess them

I was haunted,
searching for
a substitute

creating them
from pieces,
never satisfied

until a mysterious
driver on a Harley
dumped his stash

including the one
with dirt circles
around her chest

and her partner,
now mine, has
the best story yet

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