By William Thomas

Oh sure, you’ve lived and loved and dated and danced late into the night and maybe married and probably divorced and – allow me to take a really wild guess – all these affairs of the heart involved other people.  Am I right?  Yes, I am, which makes you so very retro, circa early 1990’s.

By contrast, and yes you should be very jealous of her, Suzanne Heintz is a housewife and mother who’s living the modern dream and managing a very trendy marriage.  Suzanne has it all – a great job, an adoring husband named Chauncey, and a bright, adolescent daughter, Mary Margaret. (I say bright because in the photos, the kid looks really shiny.)

And if you think you’re busy trying to keep it all together – kids, laundry, ball practice, meals, birthdays and house cleaning – think again.  Suzanne Heintz is not only the perfect wife at home during her 14-year-old marriage, but she has also travelled across America and the world with her family.

This fascinating photo journey is about to become a sold-out art show in her home town of Denver, CO.  Suzanne’s exciting life is portrayed in photographs of her and Chauncey sipping wine in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and tipping lattes at a sidewalk cafe in Vienna.  Togetherness is the unspoken theme with Suzanne, Chauncey and Mary Margaret, as they skate in winter, hike in summer and cuddle around the beautifully decorated tree at Christmas.  One lovely photo shows the three of them in pajamas opening gifts with large red Santa stockings hanging from a wooden staircase in the background.

Actually as I look closer, young Mary Margaret is staring at the camera like she’s a half-dead zombie. And upon further examination, Chauncey seems always to be posing like he’s some sort of motionless mime.But they’re the salt of the earth, these people … okay, not so much salt as molded plastic and fiberglass.

You see, although Suzanne herself is a real person – and some would say a real desperate person – her husband and daughter are mannequins.  Yeah, one human, two wooden stooges and that common complaint “What!  Hamburger Helper again?!?” is never heard in the kitchen of the Heintz house.  They’re just like a normal family, except two of them have to be feather-dusted on a regular basis.

Fourteen years ago, Suzanne cringed every time she got the question, mostly from her mother:  “Why aren’t you married yet?”  So she went out and bought herself a little family.  I assume they met when Suzanne was out shopping one day and spotted Chauncey in the window of a men’s clothing store. The deal was sealed for Suzanne when the scene in the window was being changed that day and Chauncey happened to be naked.

On the day Suzanne and Chauncey were married, Mary Margaret was almost a teenager, which made it a shotgun wedding but nobody objected, including the minister who used to be a billboard until he got religion.  The bride wore white and the groom had on a clear satin finish.

For their honeymoon, Suzanne took Chauncey on a tour of the Bonaveri Mannequin Factory in Italy where he was born.  In the photos, his mother looks amazingly young for her age.  While travelling in Europe, Suzanne carefully avoided going to Brussels where the famous Mannequin Pis would have given Chauncey and Mary Margaret some pretty crazy ideas.

Chauncey, who Suzanne calls “the greatest listener in the world,” is a pretty normal guy.  He sleeps a lot, forgets to take out the garbage, and every Thursday night, he goes down the street to play cards with a bunch of other dummies.  It’s kind of neat to watch them together, because although Chauncey seldom says a word, Suzanne’s constantly contradicting him anyway.

Barely a teenager, Mary Margaret is free of normal teenage problems like acne, peer pressure and eating disorders.  Recently, however, Suzanne panicked when she caught her daughter with what she thought was drugs.  It turns out Mary Margaret was simply ingesting WD40 to loosen a ball joint in her back.  Not long after that, Mary Margaret tried to run away from home with the weird kid next door, who, as it turns out, has a fetish for high-polished fiberglass.

Yes, the Heintzs are that perfect family complete with Sunday dinner, a car in the garage and a white picket fence.  And if they ever want to have another child, they can just carve a lad named Woody out of that picket fence.

For comments, ideas and copies of
The True Story of Wainfleet, go to www.williamthomas.ca