Friday, January 07, 2005

Time Out Middle America

A couple of years back, while in college, I travelled up to Boston with my close friend Becky to stay with her family over a long weekend. Her parents were hoots, a lot of fun to be around, and the weekend was sure to be a memorable one.

Oh, and it was. Becky's mom, an eccentric woman with a great sense of humor, was a collector of sorts. The house was chock full of bric-a-brac, ranging from your everyday clown paintings to your more unique fake foods.

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In fact, the entire kitchen looked a mess - an open ketchup packet on the counter, a spilled cup of coffee on the table. When the fam had their back to you, any attempts to help clean up proved futile, since the food was molded from plastic, all connected and mess free. Some would consider this art. I consider it mind-boggling torture. "Oh my god! I've been fooled! Your kitchen isn't covered in a huge, roach infested mess! You don't live like hobos! Haha - Joke's on me I guess." (insert slide whistle.) Why not just throw some plastic doop in a diaper and leave it on your guest's pillow... imagine the surprise! The awkward smiles... The uncomfortable glances!

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But there was something much more sinister lurking within the house, something that not only catches you off guard, but manages to weave itself into your psyche and pop-up at unexpected moments (read: your nightmares.)

As I was making my way down the stairs, I noticed a small child huddled in the corner, fully dressed, face to the wall, who appeared to be pouting. Logic told me that this was Becky's younger sister Lysee. I approached the child and tapped her on the shoulder, only to discover that said pouter was completely mummified and stuffed. Slowly, I turned said "being" around to discovery that it was a faceless doll, made from white canvas with two unfinished hands stiched over where the eyes would be, fully dressed, and left forgotten in a corner.


"Oh, do you like it??" Becky's mom laughed. "I think they're a hoot!"

"Wha-- What is it?" I stammered.

"It's a time-out kid! I know a woman who makes them. She takes these child-sized dolls and dresses them up like real kids. When you turn them around, it looks like they're in a time out!" she chirped.

That's when I saw it. Almost every single corner of this woman's house was decorated with these so-called "Time Out Kids", all in different little corpse outfits: One was dressed like a dolphins fan, another in a baseball uniform. There was a little girl in a dress. All of them faceless, stuffed, life-sized dolls.

Guess which one's the demonic mannequin.

I had a wonderful time on the trip, but this was by far my most vivid memory. Time Out Kids. It was beyond reason! I could maybe understand getting one of them to use as an example to an actual child who was shacking up in the house.

But so many of them! What on earth is the purpose? There are millions of living children you could hire to stand in the corner of your house all day. I'm sure they'd appreciate the roof over their heads, not to mention the snazzy outfits. Somehow, that would be much less creepy than these "Time Out Kids", also known a "Pout Babies", and "Get Into Therapy Warning Flags".

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A back view and a front view. For only $30, one of the cheapest way to fuck your kid up for a lifetime.

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A time out "biker dude" and "cop." All you need is a small faceless Indian and construction worker to create a troupe of miniature stuffed "Village People" your child will surely grow to love.

So people, I plead with you to stop supporting Time Out Kids, and instead invest your money in a less creepy alternative, like clown night lights, or life-sized Elijah Wood Cut Outs.

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