Whatever Happened To…Mannequin Fever?


Mannequin fever took me to places I didn’t want to go. I sought a cure but there isn’t one. Mannequins lurk and appear bringing my obsession back, renewing my battle with this fever even in the middle of a never ending pandemic. Mannequin fever is that feeling you get when you see a mannequin in stylish clothes or one outside a store holding a sign and you start shaking inside and you want to go up to it so you can be next to it. Of course your temperature goes up several degrees and you sweat. Mannequins sing a siren song you’re better off resisting.

Once It was liberating and harmless fun, a joke, spot the mannequin, have a laugh. Once there were mannequin scarecrows, mannequins selling cell phones, mannequin fences even. There were gentle razzings from the Pittsburgh Orbit concerning regional mannequin competition. Then a mannequin eluded me causing me to consider my mannequin fever. I noticed this mannequin in the classroom of a charter school where I was substitute teaching. Wearing embroidered disco jeans, he stood to the side of the classroom watching, a silent presence that either inspired or creeped students out. We’ll never know.

If only I hadn’t waited to the absolute last second. I remember the last day of school for that school year, every one trying to clear out and me hanging around, wanting to talk to a teacher already engaged in packing up and talking to someone else. I had time to visit the roof top garden one last time. While waiting, I thought about how I could explain my need to know everything about this class mannequin. I would have name dropped the blog, but how scary would it have been to mention mannequin fever? I would surely have blurted that out. The teacher must have had a funny story about that mannequin. I didn’t get it. The school has since closed. The problem is how to explain my need to write about mannequins. It’s daunting. Maybe on a subconscious level my first encounter with disco pants made it all too weird.

This nonencounter broke my fever. While mannequins are excellent subject matter, they don’t talk, they can’t complain and there’s no interview to schedule, I saw where mannequin fever was taking me: TJ Maxx dressing rooms, mugshots and hysterical laughs from the person doing the finger printing. I imagined a stolen mannequin delivery truck, talking excited, my mannequin copilot sitting uncomfortably next to me and an eruption of mannequin fever. This was an avoidable destiny.

It’s taken forever, but here’s what started this. Walking past the camera shop in Hillsdale, I spotted her in the back part of the store standing with lighting gear. I could see she was a model for testing the equipment. In my video days I worked with an armless and legless version. What more would anyone need to know? She probably has a name but that’s a whole other weird conversation.

There was a point where my mannequin fever raged so hard I thought I needed a separate blog for mannequin stories. In all that was wrong with this idea, I’ve since realized there isn’t much that can be said about mannequins. It’s what I like about them. Before there were complications, mannequin fever had me aspiring to say as much about them as humanly possible but thoughts and theories about mannequins are limited. I’ve offered a couple of mannequin fever war stories and I will always drop everything to run and meet a mannequin but at this point, there’s little left to say about these encounters.

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