Monday, August 21, 2006

I Miss My Imaginary Friend

One morning last week as I was driving home from Ft. Worth, one of the Bad Songs I’d named in an earlier post began to play on the radio. Oh no, I thought. But I decided to listen to “I’m Already There.” After all, I could have made a mistake—maybe it really wasn’t that bad. But I soon realized, it is. I reached to the dial to turn off the whining of Lonestar’s lead singer. Then I heard it.

I’m all-ready there...I’m the whisper in the wind...I’m your imaginary friend.”

What was that? Say again?

Imaginary friend. What a loaded two-word phrase. An article I read recently says that after an exhaustive study of Imaginary Friends, researchers say that by the age of seven, 65 % of children have had such a pal.

Oddie P was my friend. I wish I remembered more about her. I do recall that she was a she. And that she was older than I, maybe even middle-aged. I loved the sound of her name, though I don’t know where it came from. My parents said that I used to call for her when I was in trouble, especially when a spanking was about to begin. (“Oddie! Oddie! Oddie Peeeeeeee!”)

My brother’s person was Pea Gah. I’ve emailed my brother for the correct spelling. Maybe he’ll fill me in on a few more details about Pea Gah, such as gender (I think he was a male), occupation and activities. As far as I know, Pea Gah and Oddie P were not related.

Only one of my three children had an imaginary friend that I know of. And really, had I predicted which child would have one, I wouldn’t have picked my son. My daughters seemed so much more, well, sensitive, and—dare I say it?—imaginative. (At this point, I humbly acknowledge how little we mothers sometimes know about our children.)

But John Gock lived somewhere in Bowie, Maryland when we did. He went to my son’s pre-school and was close to my son’s age (four), but just a little older. He and my son played together a lot and liked the same things. Sometimes John Gock got into trouble with the pre-school teacher. No matter. John Gock had The Aura. He just seemed on top of things. When John Gock’s name was mentioned, the rest of us listened.

One Sunday morning we were driving to church and my son casually mentioned, “We just drove past John Gock’s house.” My husband hit the brakes. The older sisters exclaimed, “Where? Which one? Let’s go back.” And my son said, “No, you missed it.” We went on to church.

Last week I asked my son if I could write about his Imaginary Friend John Gock. “You can,” he replied, “but he was real.”

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