When Tom woke me up at 3:15 am the day after Thanksgiving to buy DVD players for his twins, I had no idea it would lead to a new level of self-esteem, and also a new awareness of mannequin anatomy. Hell, I didn't even know that you got $5 Kohl's Kash for every $50 spent. But I did appreciate the $50 certificate they handed me.
The problem is, I don't shop at Kohl's very often. I'm not even sure there's supposed to be an apostrophe in the word Kohl's. So what would I do with $50 store credit? I called Jame. I figured, what single mother of three couldn't use some extra money during the holidays? So yesterday, we went to Kohl's.
The local Kohl's has the men's department up by the check-out counters, and Jame and I happened to spend quite a while deciphering men's jeans. Relaxed fit. Straight leg. Boot-cut. Straight boot-cut?!? We were working our way to the checkout lines when out of the corner of my eye a figure on a mannequin stand moved. I screamed.
Jame "What the hell?!"
At this point the lady on the mannequin stand (actually a big wood block with carpet nailed to it) jumped and stared at me.
Me "Um, I thought I saw a mannequin move, but it was just her."
I turned to the lady, who had already un-screwed the poor manequin's arms and stripped "him" to the waist, and asked the burning question.
Me "If the mannequins have molded hair the same color as their 'skin', why do they have nipples? I mean, it's not like the designer was going for realism." (You thought I was going to ask something else, didn't you.)
Mannequin lady I don't know. Why do they have privates?
Me They don't! Really? They have privates?
ML Yeah, sort of.
Now who could resist know what "sort of" means? So I did the only logical thing. I hopped up on the little carpeted wood block, pulled the waist of 'his' Dockers back, and peered into the shadowy depths of the mannequins pants.
As yet unnoticed high school science teacher only four feet away in the checkout line Charlene?
Uh oh. No one calls me that.
Jame Mr Buikema. Hi!
I felt my face grow hot and slowly stepped down off the mannequin stand, humiliated, and turned around. Sure enough, my old science teacher, and his wife, were trying not to laugh. And for the first time in years, I was blushing.
Mr Buikema was a good teacher, and a great guy. I flunked his class for two years writing poems during lectures, and he got me into a writing class. I never turned in homework, and filled out computer-graded test forms in Morse code, but he let me run my own experiments in the back room after class (I made elemental crystals). He understood that not everyone was passionate about the same subject he was, but he encouraged a thirst for knowledge no matter the subject. He cared about students, not scores. And he was always willing to demonstrate the answer to "Does sulfur melt?" by setting it on fire, thus enabling the entire third floor of the school to evacuate for the afternoon.
Jame and I explained as best we could just why I had been peering down the front of a male mannequin's pants, and as Jame started handing her purchases to a clerk Mr Buikema asked me how my daughter was doing. I told him about her, and her problems in school (due to being advanced), and he said she sounded like me. I believe his words were "What else could you expect when her mother has a 140 IQ?"
I don't remember being tested, I really don't. But I was always being tested for one thing or another. Remedial classes because of my grades, advanced classes because of my standardized test scores, and of course the California tests they made you take every two years. I always scored high (except for math; I suck at math), and eventually quit paying attention to whatever they said the test was for. I liked tests. I liked scoring so high while flunking school. It infuriated my mother, which was a pretty major goal back then. But a hundred and forty? That's pretty high. I think Mensa only requires 135. So I called my mom last night and asked her.
Me Did you ever have the school test my IQ?
Mom Yeah. I think it was your freshman year. I can still remember getting the call from Mrs. Armstrong (evil incarnate guidance counselor) that you got one of the highest scores the school had ever seen.
Me Huh? I what? You never told me this before.
Mom Well it didn't matter; you were flunking anyway. Besides, scores are subjective. They don't mean anything.
Me Yes they do. They mean I was smart!
Mom I always told you you were smart. I said all the time that if you just applied yourself.... (at this point I tuned her out, a rather rude habit developed by hearing the 'potential' lecture so many times in my life.)
So basically, I am a freaking genius and nobody told me. I'm kind of pissed. I mean, every kid gets the "you have so much potential, if only you'd just apply yourself" talk. Hell, even my brain-damaged little cousin gets that talk, and she's 16 with a first grade reading level and no memory skills. But the highest score the school had ever seen?! I think that might have motivated me a bit, had I known. It definitely would have provided me with some self-esteem. Probably would have kept me from dating so many future felons.
I wonder if I can get those test results now. Maybe I could join Mensa. Maybe I could finally realize my potential. Maybe I could discover why mannequins have those nipples after all. As for what "sort of" privates are, you'll have to figure that out on your own. There's no shame in peeping a mannequin; even geniuses do it from time to time.