Me: Wait. What?
Michelle: She sat the doll on the table, and we would talk, and every once in a while, she would tell me what the doll was thinking.
Me: We're talking about a professor here, right? One of us?
Michelle: She brings the doll everywhere with her. I didn't talk to it, of course, because I don't speak doll language. She had to tell me what it was saying.
Michelle: Actually, I might have talked to it once or twice. But I didn't have to share my food with it or anything. It had its own plate.
Me: <pause> Well, that's a damned relief. It would be terrible if a doll was eating off of your plate.
Michelle: I'm not kidding. This actually happened. More than once.
Me: Did you call someone? A doctor maybe?
Michelle: I knew that no one would believe me. She also took the doll to a fabric store so that it could pick out new outfits.
Me: You're frakking with me, right? There's a camera somewhere in this room.
Michelle: I swear, I'm not. When I went to her house...
Me: Stop! You knew that this person thought that a doll could talk, that she gave it its own plate at restaurants, and you went to her house?
Michelle: Well, she was assigned as my mentor. Anyway, I saw that she has hundreds of dolls. And boxes of doll parts. Eyes. And underwear.
Michelle: Sometimes they need to change eyes. But this isn't the best part.
Me: I don't think I want to hear any more.
Michelle: Yes, you do. Her main doll, the one she took out, wanted a boyfriend.
Me: A boyfriend?
Michelle: Yes. She consulted with the doll, and it turned out that it wanted a boyfriend with elf ears and long silver hair.
Me: Like Legolas.
Michelle: Exactly! So after she got her tax refund, she had enough money to order the boyfriend. And then the doll--who likes me, by the way.
Me: Of course, it does.
Michelle: The doll told me a bit about its sex life.
Me: I really don't want to hear any more.
Me: No, I've come too far now. Proceed.
Michelle: Okay, well, apparently the doll fell madly in love at first, and they went at it all the time, but eventually the elf ears weren't a turn-on anymore.
Me: I suppose that can happen with elf ears.
Michelle: So she had to order new replacement ears for the boyfriend doll.
Me: This person teaches college students? She has a Ph.D.?
Michelle: She does. There was even an article about the abduction of her teaching assistant.
Me: Which was, no doubt, a doll.
Michelle: It was.
Me: [long pause] Did it get a stipend?
Michelle: I have no idea.
Me: North Dakota is a very strange place.
Michelle: Well, she's not from North Dakota. It's not North Dakota's fault!
Me: I apologize.
Michelle: Good! Now, let me tell you about the time a child on a plane reached into my sack and stole my balls...