Saturday, December 13, 2014

Baby Doll

For a couple of years, when my youngest son was just two or three years old, I was in the habit of keeping a mannequin in the back seat of my car.  Called her Baby Doll.  Sat her up like she was one of the family.  Strapped her in with a seatbelt for the ride.  Changed her clothes once a week to keep a fresh attitude.  She usually wore a cool hat, tilted just so, and dark glasses during the day.  

Sometimes my son would crawl up into the back seat and snuggle himself up in her arms.  It was pretty cute. Sometimes he’d fall asleep there.  I often wondered what he must have been thinking.  Baby doll was a pretty prominent part of our family at the time.  I realized many years later that the only actual full family portrait we have is one that includes Baby doll.
  My wife and I, our two sons, and Baby doll sitting on the sofa, each of us looking straight ahead wearing sunglasses and matching expressions.

I was working for a corporation at the time, driving ten miles to work each day.  Corporate life did not agree too well with me.  The mannequin was a nice distraction from the seriousness of the workday.  Fellow commuters would see the mannequin in the back seat, slow down and wave as they went by, with a knowing smile and a ‘Thanks for the laugh’ look in their eyes.  Coworkers, and others from the office complex would make a point of taking a little break out in the parking lot periodically to see what Baby doll would be wearing during that particular week.  I think they understood that in order for me to maintain my sanity in a suit and tie, I must occasionally welcome a little insanity into my own life.  There must have also been some vicarious indulgence for many of the uninitiated, who were, themselves, bound by parameters they were struggling against. 

Baby doll was not a profound experience for me by any means, but in a corporate, conformist, and stifling world she did serve as a connection to the idea of personal liberation, an important, and necessary, connection for me at that particular time of my life. 
And she did put smiles on the faces of a lot of people who would have otherwise not been smiling.  For this I am grateful to her.  And I remember her fondly.