Sometimes a Gift Is Just a Gift

Published January 24, 2003, issue of January 24, 2003.
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Judaism. “I’m kind of obsessed with Freud,” she said.

Her Freud doll has become one of her favorite distractions; she dances with Freud to Destiny’s Child and treats Freud like a teddy bear — sleeping with it every night.

“This sounds really insane,” Hernandez said. Yes, go on. “Freud has these felt pants…. Whenever I went to bed they’d come off. I swear to God, and you can ask my boyfriend. It’s just so weird to wake up every morning, and [see them off]. I’d say, ‘Freud, where are your pants?’”

Freudiana, Shaw says, “appeals to a real wide audience…. Most have gone to college; they don’t have a deep association with Freud, but they recognize” the icon.

One has to stop to wonder why Freud is different from all other eggheads. Apart perhaps from Albert Einstein, does any other intellectual giant — Charles Darwin or Sir Isaac Newton, say — appear on as many posters, cards and T-shirts?

Orna Rawls, a licensed marriage and family therapist — who keeps Shaw’s Freudian Slips note pads in her office — suggests it has something to do with subject matter. “The things that Freud investigated were relevant to everyone,” Rawls said. The subjects that Darwin and Newton tackled were more esoteric.

“I think Freud has always been a magnet for curiosity,” said Saltz. “He was dealing with issues of not just pure science but the mind, sex, aggression.”

Shaw has a different explanation.

“Freud is just funny,” Shaw said. “He’s funny-looking. He’s cute. He’s really easy to make cute… even though he’s not cute in his theories.”

Shaw encountered one customer who had never heard of Freud. In a thick Southern drawl, the customer called to order a “Frood doll.

Unable to believe that the customer had mispronounced the great master’s name, Shaw said, “Let me ask you this: Why do you want a ‘Frood’ doll?”

The customer replied: “He looks like my father.”

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