Love Knows No Bounds
Last week we came across the story of Ned Nefer and his wife Teagan, a married couple who are traveling via foot and wheelchair from Syracuse, NY to Watertown, NY, where the couple met and fell in love. Ned is committed to pushing Teagan, who is wheelchair-bound, the full 70 miles that lie between Syracuse and Watertown. The couple’s journey has been video-documented by several motorists who have crossed paths with them on various roadways, and who have posted their footage on YouTube. Ned and Teagan even have a Facebook page on which sightings of the couple have been posted by various onlookers. So is this simply an epic romantic journey that passersby can’t resist? Well, not quite. What if we told you that Teagan is actually a 6-ft tall mannequin with an enormous pair of red lips?
Now your first reaction might be to think that this is some sort of attention-seeking prank on the part of Nefer. Certainly that’s what we thought. But according to reports, Nefer’s love for his lady mannequin is real, and his commitment to their marriage is sincere. The “couple” met at the Watertown’s Children’s Home when Teagan was but a mere wooden head. Nefer proceeded to craft his wife-to-be a wooden body, notably with some very large breasts, and has told reporters that they were married on October 31, 1986, in California. The couple appears to be quite compatible as, according to Nefer, they “both really love the outdoors.” According to Lisa Spear, principal social welfare examiner for the Jefferson County Department of Social Services who was questioned by the Watertown Daily Times, “This is definitely one of the oddest things I’ve come across, but he [Nefer] seems very happy…[and] I wouldn’t classify him as dangerous at all….He seemed quite happy in his own little world.” Ms. Spear evidently did not feel the need to do an assessment of Teagan’s well-being.
Crazy In Love, or just Crazy?
So what do we make of all of this?
At first we were a little shocked and frankly concerned. We asked ourselves, is this what has become of our society? Instead of helping a man who clearly needs some sort of mental health intervention, we giggle about him and post videos of him on the internet. Shouldn’t Ned have been picked up by authorities and taken to a mental health facility? How was Ned Nefer even allowed to get to this point? What happened to him after he left the Watertown’s Children’s Home? Did anyone or any part of our “system” step forward to take care of him? Was it convenient, and more economically feasible, for him to be assessed as “not being dangerous” and thus left out there to fend for himself (and for his wife)?
But then we began to wonder if we were being just too judgemental and uptight. In this world of skyrocketing divorce rates, with stories of infidelity abounding and with countless numbers of folks scouring the internet for true love, here is a man, mentally challenged or not, who has found it. A love that is truly unique in that Ned Nefer will never have to deal with a nagging spouse, worry that his wife will cheat on him with his best friend or have to deal with his wife running up his credit card bills. Teagan’s decidedly a cheap date who doesn’t talk too much. No wonder Ned’s so committed to her.
Now, seriously, isn’t one of the most important things in life to give and receive love? Who are we to judge Ned’s agalmatophiliac (being sexually attracted to a statue, doll, mannequin or other similar figurative object) tendencies? As long as he is safe and not harming others, Ned Nefer’s choice of life-partner is none of our damn business. We would even venture to say that it is this love specifically that has kept Ned relatively “sane,” happy and out of mental institutions. What right does anyone have to judge who and how others love? It seems as if our society as whole could learn a lot from Ned and his wooden pal.