Monday, June 2, 2008

A Free Dummy Story

If you watched Saturday Night Live in the early '90s, you probably remember the name Jack Handey - the man responsible for those hilarious "Deep Thoughts" bits. Like these ones:

I was listening to a recent interview with Jack Handey, and it turns out he's a real person, not a persona invented to parody meditation gurus and the like. It also turns out he's responsible for many of the most memorable recurring sketches from the same period of SNL, like "Toonces the Driving Cat" and "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer," the latter of which I quote to this day. (Any time a friend of mine gets tripped up over something that should be obvious, I bust out the, "Your world frightens and confuses me" line.)
As the interview proceeded, the interviewer, Jesse Thorn, quoted one of his favorite Deep Thoughts.
If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.
Thorn was greatly amused by the notion that people would be so interested in a free dummy. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not so bizarre. Here's my Free Dummy story.
In February, I started my current job at Reveille Studios. Reveille is a pretty successful company going through a period of growth and expansion. In March, we expanded into a new office in a new building... the Vivid Entertainment building. Yes, that Vivid Entertainment. Don't pretend you don't know all about Vivid.
Here we are making our cutesy little reality show for tweens, while one floor above us is the all-time biggest porn production house in the history of the world.
So one day, my supervisor Frank goes for a stroll around the building. You know, to see what you can see. And in the stairwell of the fourth floor, he finds it - the dummy. "Hey, free dummy," he no doubt thought to himself.
Ok, it wasn't quite a dummy. It was basically just a torso. A female torso, of course, with no back side. So I guess it was more like a mold. Just a naked female torso mold, sitting in a stairwell. But really, why wouldn't Vivid Entertainment have a naked female torso mold laying in the stairwell?
April Fool's Day was a few weeks away, and Frank had a plan. "If that dummy is still there on the last day of March, we're grabbing it and putting it into one of the edit bays." We?
Sure enough, April Fool's Eve rolled around, and the torso was still in stairwell, completely abandoned by its owners. If they weren't using it, we would. Frank waited until the editors went home for the night (editors leave on time), grabbed the torso and put it in the bay of the editor who was most likely to enjoy a prank. A naked female torso prank, no less.
I wasn't in the office when the editor discovered what was waiting for him in his bay. I have no idea what his reaction was; I'm guessing it was mild delight. What I do know is that later that afternoon, the editor grabbed some string and hung the torso in the window of his edit bay.
Apparently, we had no immediate plans to return the torso to Vivid. Days went by. Then weeks. The torso was a permanent fixture in our office.
One day, our (female) co-producer walked past the bay window and exclaimed "What the hell is that?!" The torso had been on display for almost a month. She had been in and out of that bay dozens of times during that month. She was just now noticing. I assumed this was the torso's last day. I assumed wrong.
(Note: The co-producer wasn't offended. If all it takes to offend you is a naked female torso decorating your place of business, then reality TV is the wrong field for you.)
I'm not sure when the torso finally did come down. About a week ago, I was in the supply room preparing a FedEx shipment when I noticed the perfectly bronzed torso hidden under some bubble wrap. Apparently it will not be returned to the Vivid stairwell. It's ours now.
I grabbed the torso and flung it up on the highest shelf in the supply room, where neither eyes nor arms can easily find it. Some day, long after I've moved onto a different company, some innocent fool -- likely a young, underpaid, new-to-the-industry office assistant -- will be instructed to get a ladder and put some stuff up on the top shelf. There, with no explanation or context -- other than the fact that this is the Vivid building -- will be the torso, in all it's glory.
What happens to the torso after that, who can say? But I see more pranks in its future.