So we decided to get rid of her. But very bad things happened to us whenever we tried to throw her out.

Within hours of the first time I left her out on the street for the garbage men, my wife, Mercedes, who'd never had a single related symptom, had a severe gallstone attack and needed to be rushed to the emergency room. I reluctantly brought Jessica Lynn Cohen back inside.

A couple of months later, I was hit by a car as I crossed a street in Culver City, California. At the moment of impact, I did not have that common experience of seeing my life passing before my eyes; I had the unmistakable feeling that Jessica Lynn Cohen was angry. I called Mercedes and asked if anything unusual had occurred in the days preceding my accident. She admitted that she'd taken Jessica Lynn Cohen to the Salvation Army.

Get her back, I said.

We tried finding a new home for her. A friend—a single guy without kids—finally agreed to take her in. Within two weeks, he'd developed a pilonidal cyst and his brother in Florida was arrested for embezzlement. Our friend returned her and asked that we never again discuss her in his presence.

We eventually had to reach an accommodation with Jessica Lynn Cohen and accept her as a permanent member of our family.

She is now the unrivaled centerpiece of our Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve we keep her in a special "secret detention room." (We worry that Santa, because of his facility for seeing into the souls of all things, might discern in Jessica Lynn Cohen something irredeemably bad, and be frightened off before he has a chance to deliver our presents.) But on Christmas morning, there she stands, in her honored place of precedence, next to the tree.

Yes, I suppose you could say she's an evil zombie doll who led our family to madness. But, damn it, she's our evil zombie doll. We adore her. And we're never, ever going to abandon her. And so, another Christmas will come and go, under the vigilant, unflinching gaze of Our Gracious Lady of Nonrefundable Gifts, Our Jessica Lynn Cohen.

What the author knows for sure about women

Mark Leyner is the author of eight books, including Why Do Men Have Nipples? Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini (Random House).


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