Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On Imaginary Friends

In my post Back East I talked about my friend who is from 'up north' or 'back east'.  Actually he's from both and neither.  He's imaginary. I really think imaginary friends are a key underutilized resource in America today.  While small children and the psychotic make great of use of Imaginaries (that's what they liked to be called:  Imaginaries) the rest of us tend to struggle on without those pliable pals who can make any conversation more fun.

Take me, for example, I have an imaginary friend who we'll call 'Waldo'.  Waldo has a sartorial weakness in that he always dresses in the same damned striped turtleneck with messy hair and a stupid hat.  But he's my friend so I ask him to change and when he doesn't, I accept him because that's what friends do.  Waldo's job in life is hiding in plain sight which I tell him is really beneath his skill level.  But he enjoys it, the pay seems to be adequate to keep him in stupid hats and I get the fringe benefit in that knowing him so well I can always win the 'where's Waldo' game.  Life is good.
My imaginary friend Waldo.

But the thing that makes Waldo such a valuable addition to my imaginary life is his ability to provoke and then quickly and painlessly resolve my cognitive dissonance.  For example, from time to time I become concerned about our nation and the quality of the leadership therein.  Waldo interjects that he thinks (insert obviously incompetent and supremely silly politician's name here) is really sharp and that we should listen to what the (stupid oaf) has to say.  Like friends do, I listen quietly and respectfully as my good imaginary friend makes his case.  Then when he's done, I proceed to methodically demolish his naive, ill conceived arguments one by one.  He usually gets a couple tears in his eyes during the process but I am gentle so when at the end he acknowledges my absolute correctness and his obvious ignorance it doesn't hurt him so much.  Indeed, if we happen to be with enough of my other imaginary friends he usually persuades them to hoist me onto their virtual shoulders while singing the 'Marseillaise' or 'Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier'. It's really quite moving.

Another benefit that an imaginary friend brings to the psyche is guaranteed comparative superiority.  We all struggle with self image issues:  am I smart enough?  am I good enough?  Did I really write the entire Led Zeppelin backlist and were Jimmy Page and Robert Plant really just talentless hacks who stole my future?  I know that Waldo will never upstage me.  He will never point out my weakenesses except to acknowledge how much greater his are, he will never tell me he hates me even more than Robert Plant and Jimmy Page do.  In short, he will never let me down.  And if he ever does I will imagine such cruel and unusual punishments that I will never imagine that he will imagine ever contradicting my imagination again.  Imagination wise.

I really think that if Barack Obama had had an imaginary adviser/friend he wouldn't have had such trouble with the whole imaginary 'if like your health plan, doctor, drug, life, you can keep it' boo boo.  Because compared to his real healthcare advisers his imaginary friend would have been a member of the reality based community.  I know that I couldn't imagine a scenario that left the President completely ignorant about the pending collapse of his own signature achievement.  I mean that's just ridiculous.  Not even an imaginary friend will buy that.

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