The Curious Incident of the Mannequins in the Night-Time…

Is the mannequin on the right smirking?

Look at us, they seem to be saying. Are we not beautiful?

(Seemingly oblivious to their fallen comrade in a state of collapse before their toe-less feet).

It was 8:45 a.m. The front doors of Bergdorf’s were still in lock-down. Groggy commuters flooded 57th Street.

At first glance, the scene behind the plate glass, as it seemed to me, had been intentionally staged by some edgy window designers.

The artful scramble of wire, the costumes, the drama: a juxtaposition of tragedy and schadenfreude (prostrate mannequin vs. the smug indifference of the other two still standing), the runaway hat, the neon-lit map of a flattened world…right out of a Helmut Newton photo.

It was a window in Bergdorf’s, after all.

But, easily distracted as I am, my attention was then directed across the street where I noticed this bacchanalian assembly:

One mannequin, clothed (in dressy-casual as if pretending to be off to a breakfast meeting).

The rest of them — totally nude. And so anatomically correct!

Cue the Twilight Zone – doo doo doo doo    doo doo doo doo…

A childhood memory came rushing back.

When I was about seven years old, my mother and I were walking home from the supermarket when we passed W.T. Grant’s Department Store. There were two mannequins in the window, naked as jaybirds, to use her expression.

“Would you look at that!” she said, staring at the window. “It’s a disgrace!”

Frankly, I was more bothered by the fact that one of the mannequins was missing a hand and the other one, an arm.

My mother pushed through the front doors as I trailed behind. She demanded to see the manager and then shamed him into putting some clothes on the mannequins.

Ah…the 1960s. Those were the days. The pre-free-love, early 60s days, that is.

Back then, mannequins were nothing like ours of the present day. Mannequins in the 1960s looked like Barbie and Ken.

I didn’t personally own a Ken doll (my sister and I were not allowed to have a Ken or any male doll whose clothes were not permanently adhered to its body). The point being, I had seen a naked Ken, but not in the privacy of my own home. It was on the sly, at a friend’s house.

My sister and I had one Barbie that we shared. The problem was, lacking a Ken, our Barbie didn’t have a boyfriend to go out with. We therefore matched her up with my brother’s stuffed dachshund, who was named Poochie.

Apparently, in our house, bestiality was more acceptable than a girl doll canoodling with a boy doll. A smooth boy doll, let me reiterate, and not a thing like that hot mannequin pictured above.

But I divert.

At the close of this particular work day, I’d made a point of walking down 57th Street at 5:00 p.m. to check for further developments.

Voilá. The fallen down mannequin was standing upright, hat on head, as if nothing at all had happened. I smelled blackmail.

When I was a kid my mother would swear that right after I fell asleep, my dolls would come alive and move around my bedroom.

Which kind of freaked me out. But, maybe there was an element of truth to what she’d said — in the mannequin world, as well.

I next walked westward toward the shop window where the mannequins had appeared, only that morning, to be recuperating from a love hangover. They, too, were back to boutique-store normal and fully clothed. Again, like nothing had ever happened. The big cover-up.

More like the late 1960s…wouldn’t you say? Not that I would know…having never played with a Ken.

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