He can’t fire me, the dolls would get angry


For some reason, French let me find out he’s afraid of dolls.

I’ve been friends with French Stewart (the actor, from “3rd Rock from the Sun” and a billion other things) and his wife Vanessa for ages; my husband has been in plays with both of them at the Sacred Fools theatre here in L.A., the first one in I think 2005. Six years ago they had a baby. I went over to babysit, we all enjoyed it so much we decided it should be a regular thing, and so I became Helene’s nanny. She is the delight of my life, and the five of us –French, Vanessa, Helene, my husband David, and me — are all quite close. Themed Halloween costumes, that sort of thing.

While Vanessa and I have the sort of mature, supportive relationship one might expect from two grown women, French and I have slowly formed a friendship based primarily on trash talk, sarcasm, and my (probably fake) attempts to steal his money. We’ve been flipping each other the bird behind Helene’s back since she was an infant.

This is an honest-to-goodness text exchange we once had.

Honestly, he’s just exhausting. 

A while back, a mutual friend posted a meme about putting a scary doll around the house in the days leading up to Halloween “instead of elf on the shelf, it’s the doll in the hall.”

I commented, asking French & Vanessa if we could do this with Helene.


There was no way I was going to ignore that. 

I have a bunch of little porcelain dolls. They’re about three inches tall, with long braids and ornate knit dresses. I bought them in bulk in Chinatown some years back to give as xmas gifts, and there were some left over.

So I grabbed one, scribbled some tiny notes, and took a couple pictures

Then I started posting pictures to his Facebook page, almost every day.

I had the doll study a map showing how to get from where I live in Burbank to his house in West Hollywood.

I showed the doll reading a book about haunted dolls (I work at a library, when I’m not a nanny)

This doll has a bloody stump where her hand should be, making it clear that she’s written this note in her own blood, that she got by cutting off her hand.

To establish that there was not just one but several dolls, I had them gather to watch French on an episode of NCIS.

 For a week or so, the main doll (I elected her president of the dolls) worked at breaking into his house, eventually succeeding. (I took these after the kid went to sleep. I never told her about the dolls. It would have been way too exciting for her, plus she can’t keep a secret for anything).

Looking through the living room window

And the window at the top of the door

Trying to get through the mail slot

Floating in mid-air, looking through the side door (actually suspended by wire).

Trying to pick the lock

Finally getting the door open

And leading the others inside.

After that were just a ton of pictures of the dolls around his house.

 Walking around someone else’s empty house (empty except for a sleeping kid) taking creepy pictures can actually be very scary. Many photo shoots ended early with me sitting in the living room with all the lights on.

Rather than try to include all of French’s reactions and responses to the posts, I made a collage that I think fairly represents them:

At one point, his hoodie was hanging up in the bathroom and I put a doll in the pocket. I assume he found it. He never said anything and I never saw that doll again. (This picture was not posted on Facebook. It’s just showing you the doll in the hoodie pocket).

Eventually it was time to wrap things up with one final story. Here’s a thing about French: He hates (HATES) the song Hotel California. I’m not sure why. But he really hates it. Hates it. 

Unfortunately for him, it is the dolls’ #1 favorite song.

First, the doll snuck into his car. (I know where he keeps his car keys)

The doll went to Amoeba Records, on Sunset in Hollywood.

She found the record she needed.

She bought the record (nothing surprises an Amoeba employee)

She returned home to show the other dolls her purchase.

And, finally:


That was it, except for one day when the Vikings –his favorite team — was playing the Bears, our mutual friend Bryan’s favorite team. They watch the games together.

And a long time later I hid one in his bed.

Just so he’ll remember that they’re always there.

Author: Sarah McKinley Oakes

Sarah McKinley Oakes is an L.A.-area writer, nanny, and library clerk. Her other website is RemainsofLA.com, where she writes up old restaurants but barely mentions the food. To contact Sarah, email her at sarahmckinleyoakes@gmail.com, or DM the Hatpin Slayer Facebook page

9 thoughts on “He can’t fire me, the dolls would get angry

  1. Why was this not turned into a Netflix series during the pandemic? I forgotten how much I adored it.

  2. With friends like you … :- )
    as ever love the writing – the story is even more bad-ass! Woot!
    thanks for sharing.

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