Prompt Day #233: Brainstorm the surprisingly dire consequences of not following a common warning (Mattress tag, Street Sign, Washing label, Medicine bottle, Traffic sign, It’s up to you!)
I Married a Ken Doll
Ben and I were together for three years and engaged to be married when Ben got sick. That’s what we call it anyways, or at least what I call it. Ben can’t say anything. He doesn’t talk anymore. It was one of the last things to go, so I think I can tell the story pretty well.
We had this great little apartment on the west side. Ben had just started work as PE teacher at the high school and I was interning as the local news. It was our anniversary and we were making a pizza together. I remember watching Ben throw the pepperoni slices into the air and catch them in his mouth. I always got such a kick out of that. I saw him throw that little packet, you know the one that says “Do Not Eat” with those hard plastic beads? He caught it in his mouth just as I yelled “stop!” and he grinned this big toothy grin and swallowed!
I was worried sick. It said do not eat for a reason, I told him. I begged him to call poison control but he laughed and said it’ll be fine and that I worry too much. I thought he was probably right and laughed when he popped more meat into the air.
But I wasn’t laughing the next morning, neither was he when he got out of bed and his hair wasn’t hair anymore. Where his hair used to be was a plastic helmet of blonde. Like a Lego man or something. I really thought, when I woke up and saw it, that he was playing a prank on me, but then I realized he was still asleep. Still, maybe he put it on sometime in the night. I shook him awake.
“What’s this about” I asked.
“What?” he said and then scratched at the plastic. His eyes got wide and he touched it again. He jumped out of bed and we heard a clunk as his feet hit the floor. He looked down and then padded across the floor to the bathroom. Clunk, clunk, clunk as his flat plastic feet hit the floor. He almost toppled over once as he had to almost march.
I stood behind him as he stared in the mirror. This was not a joke. He put a hat on and high tops and went to work. When I got home, Ben was there sitting on the chair in the living room with his legs up and out as if up on an ottoman, only we didn’t have an ottoman.
“Ben!” I said, “What’s wrong with you?”
“Just this” he said and knocked on his leg. It made a strange thud. I touched them, they felt like cold plastic.
“Ben, let me take you to the hospital, this isn’t right.” I said. He just grinned at me. He said it was funny, didn’t I think it was kind of funny? I said no, I did not. I left him on the couch like that. I told him to come to bed when he changed his mind about seeing a doctor.
He never came to bed, though. He woke me up the next morning calling my name from the living room. I ran downstairs. He was still wearing that stupid grin on his face, he could barely move his mouth. His arms and chest had turned into a hard plastic. His elbows were locked straight out just like his knees. I could barely look at him. He swiveled his head in order to look at me. When he did, I saw the line between his chest and head where his head connected. I grabbed his shirt and pulled it aside, there was a line like that where his arm attached to his chest.
I called 911. The ambulance came and got him. They took him to the hospital. The doctors called it scleroderma, they said it was a severe advanced form. They said there was nothing they could do; it was a matter of days to weeks. He just sat there and grinned a big, white toothy grin. I cried the whole time.
When we got home he asked me to marry him. I said yes, but it broke my heart. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. He said besides the fact that he was hard plastic on the outside, on the inside, he felt fine. I tried to kiss him but he couldn’t really move his lips well. I had to lift his arms up and pose him then walk into his hug. I called a justice of the peace and made arrangements. Ben said he wanted to take me to Malibu for our honeymoon. So I made those arrangements as well.
When I undressed him for bed, I was shocked to find that his underwear had somehow become part of him. Where his penis had been, was now just a suggestive bulge in an otherwise flesh colored plastic torso. So this was my life now, I thought as I folded him at the hips and sat him in bed, pivoted his legs onto the bed, and then flattened him back out.
When we got married, Ben could no longer speak. His square jaw just grinned at the Justice of the Peace as he read the vows. The only thing he could do was blink, which he did when it was his turn to affirm that he wanted to marry me. Otherwise it was a beautiful day and his hair was perfect.
So now, here we are, ten years later. Ben is still here and very much alive. Our marriage is different than most, I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m used to the stairs when I take him shopping or he goes with me out to eat. Ben doesn’t need to eat or drink anymore. Ben doesn’t teach PE anymore either but he’s got a great modeling job. I quit my job as well, since I have to go with him to his gigs, dress him, pose him, that sort of thing. And of course we’ve never consummated the marriage, but we make do with what we call his “accessories.”
I know if he had to do it all over again, he would never have eaten that packet of plastic beads. But I’m not one of those wives that are always saying I told you so. But I admit I have a tendency to read him every warning label that we find. And make sure he heeds them.