Doll Head Eater

He said both his parents worked when he was a child, leaving
him at the mercy of an eccentric Spanish nanny. She got
bombed like clockwork every Wednesday, her day off. She'd
get the family's numerous talking birds -- cockatiels and
parakeets alike -- drunk on pieces of wine-soaked bread, till
they hung upside down from their perches, cursing like sailors.

He said he also remembered working evenings his senior year
at a veterinary clinic in his hometown, in Connecticut. It was
the fall. On Halloween night he saw seven black cats in a row,
and then a white cat named Casper.

He said he got his undergraduate degree in Eugene, Oregon,
where he knew a classmate who worked in a mental hospital.
This man told him once about Doll Head Eater, a homeless guy
who ate doll heads. These he prized among all other delicacies.
He would eat the heads of as many dolls as he could find. Then
he would always wind up in some emergency room with intense
stomach pains -- something akin to appendicitis. For having
swallowed the doll heads he could not pass them, they were too

At the emergency rooms they would pump his stomach,
dredging up the vile stew of 10 or 12 plastic orbs with their fetid
artificial hair like rank seaweed. When they had cleaned him
up, they'd send Doll Head Eater straight to the nutty bin. But
because it was the Reagan years the state would invariably let
him back out on the street again, where he would end up eating
more doll heads.

Every emergency room intern in Eugene knew him well; and
they dreaded seeing him in their waiting rooms, doubled over in
agony, clutching his bloated belly.

He said he thought of Doll Head Eater often throughout his
college years. He was alternately fascinated and disgusted by
him. He longed to meet him some day. So, he hatched
elaborate schemes to find Doll Head Eater.

In the first of these, he imagined leaving a trail of doll heads
along the city sidewalks, leading to a safe house where he and
his frat buddies would kidnap the madman and keep him as a
kind of inspired mascot. In another of his plans, he would go
down to the local daily newspaper, the Eugene Register Guard,
and run a big display ad reading, "Every Tuesday, All You Can
Eat Doll Head Buffet," listing the address of the safe house.
Then he would simply wait for him to appear on the doorstep
with his odd appetite. Ultimately, he never followed through, of
course. Eventually he just forgot about the nut.

Then one day last week, he says, while picking up the mess his
young daughter had left on the living room floor -- coloring
books, toy kitchen appliances and such -- he was overcome
with the desire to taste forbidden fruit. He popped the head off
of a Barbie and placed it in his mouth.

It was delicious.