Marcophiles: Bring a 'Buddy' home for Christmas

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Recently we asked you and other readers to share the worst or oddest gifts of holidays past. We received some fun responses.

“It was Christmas eve, no gift for my first ex-wife. I was panicked so I drove to the nearest store, a sporting goods place, ran in, grabbed a tennis racket and some balls. “‘You do know I’ve never played tennis and have absolutely no interest in learning,’ she said. She didn’t speak to me for a week. I wonder where that racquet is now. Wonder where she is too.”

“I chose for my wife’s first Christmas gift (married to me) two aluminum ice cube trays and could not understand why she was not thrilled. They were deluxe models with extra large cubes and a lever to expedite extracting them. “And we did need ice cube trays. Eventually she forgave me. We’ve been married fifty-five years.” Perhaps somewhere along the way he broke the ice.

Our nominee for creepiest yet successful Christmas present ever doesn’t seem creepy at all to the recipient, nor to the giver.

Islander Keith Dameron bought it some years ago for his wife, Barbara, and they’re still together in spite of it. Or maybe because of it? “I wanted something so different she’d never expect it, and I found in a holiday gift catalog — “Safety Man.” Seriously? Yes, it’s a cross between a fun house scary guy doll and a ventriloquist dummy, designed for women driving alone to put in the front seat to represent a companion.

“You put clothes on him, strap him in the seat belt and you’re ready to go. The legs are optional,” Keith explains with a straight face. His, not the dummy’s. “It has a two-day growth of beard and big, deep, blue eyes that never blink.”

We described the look on its face as “crazed.” To no one’s surprise there are Internet web sites devoted to Safety Man. But the new ones are inflatables and one model is labeled, “Tall, Dark and Handy.” Keith and Barb named their dummy “Buddy.” They’ve had him thirty-plus years and he has a sort of stilted cult following around town.

“If I want to take Buddy to an event,” Keith says, “I have to check with Barb first because she might already have booked him for a gig.” As Keith talks, the creature just sits there and stares, perhaps having deep Safety Man thoughts. Friends of the Damerons often borrow Buddy for holiday events, but they must handle him with care.

“He’s life size, of course, and he wears a 48-long in a men’s suit. I got him a good one, plus a tie. “A lot of people on Marco will recognize Buddy on sight. Some ask if they can take him to events on Marco. And what’s astounding is that people come over to our table at a party and talk to Buddy. Seriously. “At a Christmas party last year a server taking drink orders began talking with him. She told him the menu specials when we asked her to.

We have more funny gift moments to share later. If you have a weird gift story, email us right away at:

Chris Curle and Don Farmer have been writing for the Marco Eagle and other area newspapers for more than 30 years. They have a combined total of 99 years experience in major news media in the U.S. and abroad, including ABC News, NBC News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers and magazines. Their novel, “Deadly News,” is set partly in Marco Island.

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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