In one of my favourite movies, Weekend at Bernie’s Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman drag their dead boss around the Hamptons so no one would find out he was dead.
Heh, wasn’t Andrew McCarthy also in that 80’s movie called“Mannequin” with Kim Cattrall?
Could any of this happen in real life?
Last fall while driving down Erie Blvd in Syracuse, New York I saw these two and thought that the man had made some sort of scarecrow for his garden. Today I found out that she was no scarecrow - she is actually Ned Nefer's trophy wife.
Ned and Teagan Nefer spend their summer vacations in upstate New York every year. Mr. Nefer is quite the living and loving husband while he pushes his wife of 25 years for miles in a wheelchair. In a Weekend at Bernie’s moment, Teagan is not actually a woman. Instead of blood pumping through her veins she just hands out splinters as she is actually a wooden mannequin.
Ned actually found the mannequin head back in the 1980’s and made a special wooden body to attach to the head. Not content with just a relationship he actually married her on Halloween night back in 1986. They have become the ultimate organic couple.
The duo have attracted attention worldwide and even inspired Facebook fan sites. Erin LeClair and her fiance, Steve Kalwarovski first saw them on Facebook in February and finally met them by chance. At the time Mr. Teagan was in a lot of pain as he was pushing his wife and their groceries 40 miles to his campsite.
"Despite what you may think, Ned is very approachable.”
She was also quick to state that while she's not a mental health expert, she doesn't believe that Nefer is mentally ill. Mrs. Leclair said although his wife does not talk much she does communicate with her husband. She also added that he was extremely intelligent, polite and kind to them.
When I was a child we watched an old man make a strange looking creature on his porch every day. One day my grandmother threw out one her many Gabor wigs that she wore into the garbage. We watched while he fished it out the next day on his way to the store and he told my grandmother that it was for the scarecrow he was making for his garden.
Some nights when we bicycled passed his house we watched him tenderly pull ‘her’ off the pole and bring her inside. Not one of us really understood why but no one really questioned anything in those days. My grandfather just used to tease my grandmother that the scarecrow looked a little like her.
I know upstate New York fairly well and do believe that anyone pushing a
mannequin in a wheelchair for any distance is a rarity. The couple has had their background investigated by Jefferson County Sheriff John P. Burns. The Sheriff said that Ned’s name has been shortened but he does have a valid state Department of Motor Vehicles identification card. He also added that he does not have a valid Driver’s License and loves photography.
"I wouldn't classify him as dangerous at all. He seemed quite happy in his own little world," she declared.
Teagan Yvonne Savannah Thjodhild-Nefer has no identification and comes from a mixed family. Ned said that she lived in Haiti and Sudan before moving to America and has an Icelandic father and Sudanese mother. In a nosy neighbour moment the deputy has responded to calls about the couple but has never been taken into custody.
Lisa Spear, a social welfare examiner for the Jefferson County Department of Social Services, agrees she has never met anyone like him. She said,
Spear also said she heard Ned may have once been married to a woman, but that his wife died. "I'm not sure if this is his way of dealing with the death or that this is some way of coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, but he seemed very sincere," she said.
Mr.Kalworovski says he's had some great conversations about music with Ned. Besides photographing photos of town and village signs, rock formations and cemeteries, he loves metal music. Ned’s favorite bands are Godsmack and Disturbed, and one has to maybe wonder if being wooden is an asset if your husband loves this type of music.
Maybe in some men’s minds he has the perfect wife. This is a woman that will never asks for the remote control.
Text: Linda Seccaspina 2011