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It was time to lose the Kenny doll.

I had recently moved to a giant prewar apartment overlooking Prospect Park, with enough room for an easel, a stretched-out yoga mat, even cartwheels. Kenny was only three feet tall, not to mention made of felt and stuffing, but his presence suddenly felt wrong. He was out of place.

Our first night together was at Mark’s place. He had won the oversized South Park doll for me at Six Flags that day.

Mark came along at a time in my life when I needed a Serious Relationship to complement my new Real Job. He was achingly appropriate: a couple years older, calm, attentive, well-dressed, a fixed-rate mortgage. The day was adorable, all cotton candy and roller coasters.

But that night, after Mark climbed on top of me and squeaked his way to orgasm, I couldn’t sleep. While Mark’s steady breath warmed the top of my head, his arms wrapped tight around my chest, I found myself staring at Kenny. He was propped against Mark’s dresser, his black pupils staring intensely at me through those gigantic, mismatched orbs.

It wouldn’t bother me if you kept smoking, Kenny seemed to whisper to me through the dark, his words somewhat muffled by his giant orange parka. I don’t give two shits if you impress my mother, and I’d be down for all sorts of dirty things in bed…

We woke early for the trek into Manhattan. I pulled on a grey pencil skirt and silvery blouse, and scanned my Blackberry while Mark grabbed coffee.

Alone with Kenny, I suddenly felt anxious about leaving him at Mark’s house. I knew I couldn’t take him with me to work – I was trying to exude competence there. I’d worked hard to replace my jokes about Mormons and abortions with intelligent discussions about mortgage-backed securities and Obama’s foreign policy. If I walked in carrying a huge, bright orange cartoon doll, I’d shatter the entire persona I had built up; I’d be revealed.

But if I leave him here, I may never see him again. I cringed at this unbidden thought. Mark was so sensible, with his stainless appliances and matching wine glasses. If anyone could cure me of my wandering gaze, it’s the calm and steady man with the good vocabulary. I tried to shake off the immature thoughts as I applied eyeliner and stepped into my black pumps.

Mark found me five minutes later at the front door, Coach bag slung over my right arm and the three-foot likeness of Kenny McCormick lodged under my left.

“You’re going to… take him to work with you?” he asked, gently tilting his head. I tried to drop the doll but my arm was a vice grip.

Kenny spanned from under my neck to halfway down my thigh as I clutched him on the PATH train. Commuters stared. Co-workers raised their eyebrows. But it was so worth it! I eventually plopped Kenny beneath the window in my cramped East Village apartment, satisfied with this minor societal rebellion.

The next time Mark slept over, after a rousing date playing Ping Pong in the West Village, he got up in the middle of our session to turn Kenny’s face to the wall. “He’s freaking me out,” he said, shaking his head. “Those giant eyes.”

Petulance slammed into me, blocking any chance I had of orgasming that evening. His denial of this raunchy character felt like a personal assault. I waited until Mark fell asleep and turned Kenny back around, holding silent communion with his giant, felt-stuffed head. You get me, Kenny.

I eventually ended things with Mark, one windy autumn day. Rather than shame at giving up on my first real attempt at a proper relationship, I actually felt mature, one step closer to myself. I returned Mark’s button-down shirts and tucked away pictures from our Rhode Island trip.

But I held on to Kenny, my felt buffer for the grown-up world. I clung on like a security blanket for another year and a half, packing him up and moving him into my new apartment at Prospect Park last winter.

Despite the spaciousness, Kenny took up more room here than he ever did in my teensy East Village place. After all, I had stopped jerking awake at 3am searching his solace, and my need to wedge a third party between intimate moments had all but evaporated. Like training wheels, I was finally ready to toss this vulgar character as I found some footing in my live action world.

I took Kenny down to the Goodwill drop box behind my apartment. I kissed his non-existent nose and opened the slot as wide as it would go. My stomach turned as I squished his massive head to fit him in there, but I did it. It was time for him to provide comfort and security to someone else. He’s probably making some 12-year-old boy very happy.