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Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Ventriloquist Dummies Creep Me Out

There's a long list of things I find creepy, but ventriloquist dummies are way up there.

When I was about 11, my friend David had a dummy (they like to be called "figures") he kept in a box in his basement. At about this time, there was a movie out about a dummy who comes to life and becomes a homicidal maniac.

David and I were afraid his dummy would get some ideas from that movie, so we'd pose it and check back later to see if it moved. We always thought he'd moved a little, but not quite enough to fully convince us. It was the dummy's evil way of making think he was harmless so we'd stop our investigation. Then he'd start talking and turn us into his slave dummies--ones who could ride bikes and shoot BB guns at his enemies.

When I moved to Cincinnati, I found out this area has its own ventriloquism museum, called Vent Haven. I keep meaning to go...to confront my fears and satisfy my curiosity.

Let me say that if you like ventriloquist dummies, more power to ya. I ain't criticisin' the fine folks at Vent Haven.

After giving it some thought, I think I figured out why ventriloquist dummies give me the heebie-jeebies. My grandfather used to run a clothing store years ago and, as such, kept a storage room with extra mannequins. One time when I was about five years old, I peeked in there and saw the human-like figures, dusty, nude, some missing limbs, piled on each other like what you see in photos of concentration camp victims.

Of course, at that age, I didn't know Auschwitz from shinola, but I did know what looked scary.

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