“I’ve got to be honest,” The Fella says as he picks up her stuffed Domo-kun doll, “This thing you have going with this toy… it drives me out my nut. I fucking hate it.”
She’d always had stuffed toys with her, ever since childhood. Her mother was always at her to donate the toys to sick children at hospitals, but the thought gave her a feeling in her belly similar to the one she got when she had nightmares of losing her cats.
“Mom wants me to get rid of all my toys,” she tells The Fella.
“It’s time you did,” he says. “Do it. It’s time to be a fucking woman.”
Ah, this causes the stubborn knot in her belly to blossom, a feeling she’s known ever since she was a small child and hugs and kisses and tickles were repugnant assaults to her senses. When her friends tried holding her hands or playing with her hair she was prone to flying into fits and tears. (So lord knows, because she still can’t figure it out, how or why The Fella burrowed into her heart deep enough to actually let him have full physical access to her body.)
Her stuffed animals were cute fluffy bodies with perma-smiles, once a constant relief for her from a feisty homelife that was a daily battleground between siblings and parents. Yes, she had tea parties with her toys, and all of the usual child tricks, talked with them, cuddled them, slept with them and gave their soft, soulless little bodies distinct names and personalities.
Her current trend of carrying a cute, stuffed, Domo-kun doll around was enabled by her friends and family who knew that giving her one was a guaranteed pleaser for her and therefore a wise gift to get. Prancing them around for photo-ops a la Amelie’s traveling gnome turns from gimmick to genuine hobby. Was that really a cause for worry?
The first night she spent alone from The Fella, she found herself pacing, wringing her hands, and staring out the window in hopes of glimpsing him tripping up the sidewalk. When she finally went to bed she could only do so after grabbing her stuffed doll and squeezing it to her breast.
When he returned early the next morning and she sat up and squinted at him, she saw his face when he said to her, “You all right?”, and his eyes were fixed onto the stuffed doll in her hands.
She feels it blow through her body at that moment, that she is some sort of mistake, but damned be to his disapproval. As much as she adores The Fella, knowing that her Domo annoys him only triggers her on the train to realizing that she is sick of being ashamed for being enamored of cute things. It’s not that she doesn’t WANT to be a real adult or woman, but she’d rather not run on the hamster wheel apologizing every time someone finds something about her to be odd.
So, as The Fella would say, “Fuck ‘em, do what you want.”
Now THERE’S a piece of advice from him she can use, and he’s actually very happy for her when she does set her foot down on those things–(even if it does sometimes annoy him.)
“I’ll miss you, even if you are a pain in my fucking ass,” he says, tapping his finger on Domo.
The wee guy is peeking out of her small purse when she arrives at the courthouse for jury duty. That in itself isn’t the main issue because who is really noticing what’s going on with her purse as they mill about the jury holding pen, sipping bad coffee and playing Candy Crush on their mobile phones while waiting to be called into the courtroom.
She’s served on a jury before, and she knows to expect a bland morning of questions and answers, of trying not to doze off or trying not to somehow inadvertently piss off the judge about something. There would also be a steady stream of people doing their best to be considered unfit for jury duty by claiming some sort of hard-luck single parent story, or claiming to be racist.
The last time when she was selected for duty she’d been chosen because she was one of the few quiet ones who didn’t complain or make a spectacle of themselves.
It’s not that the prospect of serving on a jury is bad to her, but it is the early days of her decision not to hide her true personality from anyone or anything. So when her name is called and she is the last one sitting in a group of twelve in a jury box, she answers the judge’s questions to her as truthfully as possible.
“What are your hobbies?” He asks.
As she listens to the judge she notices the gaze of the pristine, designer-pants-suited young woman sitting next to her. The woman is staring with unabashed horror at the sight of a Domo-kun doll peeking out of a perfectly good Dooney Burke bag.
“World Travel,” she says, and the woman next to her audibly scoffs–(because wee child-women with toys in their purses wouldn’t know a thing about world travel?)
“And what else?”
“I like Twitter,” she responds truthfully, and the entire courtroom snorts at this one. This causes the fire in her belly and she continues, “And Twitters about world travel.”
Fine then… war it is!
So she pulls the Domo doll from her bag and places it on her lap and pulls her feet up from the carpet onto the seat. Why shouldn’t she be comfortable?
The lawyers begin their questioning of the potential jurors.
Was she a renter or a homeowner. Neither, she lives with her mother.
“Oh… well, that’s a pretty good arrangement you got going there isn’t it?” the lawyer says with his eyes on her Domo doll.
Has she ever sustained an injury? Yes, her knees were constantly injured, but when it comes to recalling exact dates or reasons for anything she can’t quite answer with any certainty. Why not? Pain killers, probably. (The court room laughs.)
As the questions continue and she answers them far past what seems to be normal, she hugs the doll tighter to her belly. The questions move towards her views on lawsuits, and while everyone else gave rather bland, “Each case is different, it depends on the circumstances…” type-answers, she replies with full honesty that she thinks the majority of lawsuits people get into are a result of no one taking personal responsibility for anything.
This seems to please the lawyer for the defense until he hears from her that despite her views on lawsuits in general, she still thought landlords and business owners had a responsibility to maintain grounds at all costs to ensure that no one is hurt on their property by uneven sidewalks or wet tiles.
The questions from both men when they have their turn to speak with her become increasingly probing as they look to get a gauge on her personality. It’s as if their words are intrusive fingers in her brain with their eyes glued to the stuffed animal on her lap. As their visible discomfort increases, so does her amusement. A fine time for a girl to realize and enjoy her power to discombobulate a group of people just by being unashamedly honest for the first time ever. No adjusting her words and bearing to make someone more comfortable, no bullshit.
“I have to ask, but do you have any real opinions on…”
She’s pulling on the arms of her doll and she looks up and interrupts, “The doctor on the expert witness list! Dr. DeWild! He doesn’t work at Sunshine Orthopedics, does he?”
“Um, yes, why do you ask,” the lawyer says, and his face has the same pale, nauseated expression he’s probably used to getting from people on the stand.
“Dr. DeWild was the one who did surgery on my knee!”
And the courtroom gasps as if a Law and Order plot twist has occurred.
The lawyer’s stare fixates on the Domo doll and he says, “Are you positive?”
She remembers being a teenager and being wheeled into surgery while Dr. DeWild followed alongside her bed and plucked her stuffed koala bear off it. “You’re too big for stuffed toys, aren’t you sweetie?”
“Miss,” The Judge says with an exasperated tint to this voice, “You didn’t think it pertinent to bring that up at the time I read off the expert witness list?”
She squints and scratches her chin, “I just wasn’t sure at that moment.”
Her name is the first to be read aloud when the lawyer’s juror-discard choices are made. She tucks her doll snugly into her purse as she makes her grand exit from the courtrooms. She catches a few of the gazes on her and notices them fixated on her purse where the beady little Domo eyes were peeping merrily.
Silly little fixation. Sad little friend substitute. Mascot of a maladjusted child who never quite grew into her woman body, it didn’t really matter to her what anyone thought of the stuffed toy she loved as much as one would a pet cat. The wee guy was a pretty accurate mirror to the way her scattered, sometimes flaky thought processes worked, and she didn’t feel shame anymore in keeping him close by her side.
“I like Domo!” Her uncle said to her one day, rather abruptly, “He’s so COOL!”
“Yeah?” she replied, and she smiled, “Apparently he’s also unfit for jury duty.”
As far as imaginary friends went, one had to admit, earning a girl a get out of duty free pass from court was not something to sniff at. Despite what common sense, prospective boyfriends, or society thought about her habit of carrying stuffed toys, she figured, it was her own damn choice and no one else’s, and she’s doing just fine.