Pat's View: Mannequin

By Pat Cashman

I remember the last time I saw Manny.

He was standing just off the highway on a mountain pass---just where I had placed him. Driving away, it occurred to me that it was a shabby way to treat a long time companion.
It wasn't his idea. Manny didn't have ideas. It was entirely my idea to leave him behind. Let me explain.
My dad owned and operated a mens' clothing store. As a kid, I didn't find the clothing business particularly exciting or sexy. Why would I? There were no TV shows named Game of Men’s Pants---or Smackdown: The World Haberdashery Federation.

But I was intrigued by the mannequins in the store windows---each of them standing sharp and motionless, wearing the latest styles. It looked like an easy gig, and said so to my dad. "Oh yea?" he said, "Why don't you try it for an hour?" I did.

Standing in the window---wearing a slick outfit---I tried to remain motionless. But I starting itching in places mannequins don’t have.

Sidewalk passersby didn't seem to notice that there was a living mannequin in the window. (‘Living mannequin’ falls into the same category as “alternative facts.’) But when I reached up to scratch an ear, a window shopper was so startled he fell backwards onto the hard sidewalk. My dad quickly switched me out for an actual mannequin before the guy came inside to sue.

One day, my dad decided to reduce his mannequin inventory and said, “Hey, you want one?” Did I! The dummy he handed over seemed in good shape except for a missing nose. But I saw unlimited potential in the disfigured figure---and who needed a nose anyway? Lack of one didn’t seem to hurt the Sphinx’s reputation.
I named the dummy ’Manny’---put him in pants and a sweater---then brought him to high school. When Miss Morris---the hard-nosed, no-nonsense librarian was looking the other way---a friend and I whisked Manny to the very back of the library. We stood him so he was facing the shelves, appearing to be a student looking for a book. Then we placed ourselves, as if studying, at a nearby table to watch.

Manny looked quite convincing when viewed from behind. We delighted in watching the ever-suspicious Miss Morris circle and study him. She knew something was irregular, but she couldn't quite put her bony finger on it. After all, what was wrong with a kid looking for a book, right? No matter how long he seemed to be doing it.
But after a long hour, unable to contain herself any longer, Miss Morris strolled directly behind Manny. "Can I help you find a book, young man?" He didn't reply. She repeated the question. No reply.

Then, she placed her heavy hand menacingly upon his shoulder. Manny rocked a bit---and then crashed to the ground---further diminishing his nose. Miss Morris screamed and ran out of the room---certain that she'd just killed a student.

Before long, it was clear I was the student she wanted killed. As I was hustled off to the principals office (in chains and an orange jump suit the school kept on hand for such miscreants), I feared I’d never see Manny again.

Miraculously, school officials returned him---probably not knowing what else to do with him. I had to promise not to bring him back to high school again. I kept the promise until graduation---and then took him off to college.

Manny joined me in my 4th floor dorm room. Dressing him in conservative suit and tie, I added a Richard Nixon mask and set him in the window. I bent his arms into the familiar, up-stretched, Nixonian ‘V for Victory’ pose.

From the campus below, it had an amusing effect during daytime hours.

But one night, a security guard thought Manny was a despondent student about to leap. Within minutes, panicky officials were at my door.

While everyone was relieved the would-be jumper was just a mannequin, it was made clear that Manny was about as welcome on campus as a dope peddler.
The fun was over. It was time for the two of us to part company.
Wistfully, I put Manny in my car and drove him some 60 miles up the highway to a mountain pass. I stood him up near some bushes, facing away but still clearly visible from the road. In fact from the rear he looked like a guy---well---doing what guys do when a restroom is unavailable. I figured he’d provide a provocative sight to other travelers.
Then I drove away, feeling like the betrayer I was.

But a month or so later, I did go back. Manny had vanished without a trace.

I have never stopped wondering about him.

Maybe a state tropper spotted him, and stopped to investigate.

Perhaps a hungry bear thought he’d found an easy snack.

Or maybe, against better judgement, Miss Morris stopped one day to give a hitchhiker a lift.
Pat was a longtime cast member and writer on KING 5’s Almost Live---which continues to air in popular re-runs. And some not so popular. He is also a keynote speaker---and a fundraising auctioneer---plus he co-hosts an on-line talk show:

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