I have always been a walker. I walk the dog, I walk to the store, I walk when I'm pissed off, and I walk when I'm cheerful. One day, many years ago, I noticed something that was consistently lying around in the suburban streets where I lived: doll parts.
G.I. Joe limbs, Barbie heads, tiny plastic shoes, arms and legs with bendable joints, small plastic fists that held nothing - all these things I have found while taking a neighborhood stroll.
I started keeping a collection of these wayward appendages in a glass jar. It was never a goal of mine to collect plastic body parts, but the proliferation of doll carnage made it a pretty easy hobby. (Not to mention the fact that early in my adolescence, I made it a habit to steal the hands off of mannequins at the mall, so this collection was only a natural progression.) Before long, finding a dismembered action hero or dirt-smudged Barbie arm became something of a huge score. My jar of parts overfloweth.
When you move a lot, as I do, you start to look at your stuff in terms of how easy it is to pack up and move, and how necessary it is to keep. During the last evaluation of my belongings and their importance, the jar of parts just didn't make the cut. It was time to pass it on.
Fortunately, I was able to find them a good home on a friend's shelf where they are quite happy. That was a few years ago, and I stopped finding doll parts after that. Until recently.
Several weeks ago, Cooper and I were out for a stroll when I saw this, lying innocently on the sidewalk:
Yup, that's a finger. And then, a few days later, down a different street, I stumbled upon this:
The fingers of mannequins were suddenly littering the streets where I live.
By force of habit I collected them and left myself a mental note to call The Keeper of the Jar. I was excited to have new items for the collection.
Then a week or so ago, Cooper and I were on one of our Saturday marathon walks, when we passed a sunny neighborhood alley many blocks from my house. Imagine my absolute shock and delight to see this:
The rightful owner of those fingers stared eerily at me as I stood there transfixed. But because of my rule regarding frivolous junk and the space required to store it, I walked away. This was unthinkable for me a few years ago, but alas, I guess that's what people mean when they say, "Grow up." It means you must resist the urge to take home creepy, mangled mannequins. Sigh.
But then! Later that week I remembered that I needed a nice, smooth neck upon which to model my new line of pendants. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? I MUST GO BACK AND GET HER RIGHT NOW!
In a panic, I hopped in my car and sped to the alley where I'd seen her propped up against that fence. But sadly, she was gone. Someone got to her first. Damn my slow thinking.
But the story doesn't end there. Two days ago, Cooper and I perused the streets again, looking for a place to poop. No, not for me, silly. We turned down the alley behind my apartment, and Coop wandered into some weeds that run along the side of an empty building. There I saw a new wonder. Bones.
A big pile of them, bare and filthy and covered in dirt. Unbelievable! Is that a femur? An arm? Are those cow bones? Dog bones? PEOPLE BONES?!?! Then I saw a piece of skull and got ready to call the police. But I had to make sure what I was seeing was real, and bent down to pick up the piece of skull that for all I knew was once one of my neighbors.
Drat. It was light as a feather. Bones are heavy. Further inspection revealed the truth - the damn things were made of styrofoam. Who leaves a pile of styrofoam bones in an alley? I won't lie to you - I was terribly disappointed. I really wanted to be the walker that found the remains of a missing person. And no small jar would hold a collection of parts this big. I heaved a sigh and continued with my walk, wondering what on earth I might find next.