Imaginary Friends

Well, it has been a busy week at chez McCabe! I finished the Muse book and sent it off into the cold, cold world (aka the UK Harlequin office). I started an Intro to Samba class. Not yet ready for America’s Ballroom Challenge, but I do have a nifty new pair of t-strap dance shoes, and I’m going to samba roll those holiday pounds away! And I’m following Cara’s Shakespearean example and auditioning for a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this afternoon. I’m a bit nervous. In high school and college I did some theater, but not much since. I do have some experience with Midsummer. Granted, I was seven years old and my one line was “Peas-blossom”. But I think it should count. We have to present a prepared monologue (I’m doing Titania’s “These are the forgeries of jealousy”) and read from the script. I would love to play Titania, but would be more than happy with “third fairy from the right.” Oh, and tomorrow night I’m having an Oscar party and still don’t know what food to serve. Wish me luck!

In between dancing and reciting Shakespeare (often at the same time), I’ve been reading essayist Adam Gopnick’s Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, the follow-up to his very entertaining Paris to the Moon. Gopnick riffs on art, food, mortality, family, post-9/11 New York life–and imaginary friends. In the chapter “Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli,” he discusses his three-year-old daughter Olivia’s imaginary friend (hereafter IF), the fabulously named Charlie Ravioli, and how he reflects modern urban life. Ravioli does seem a very New York-ish kind of IF. He lives in an apartment at “Madison and Lexington,” and never has time to meet with Olivia. She leaves messages for him on her toy cell phone, until they happen to “bump into each other” and “hop into a taxi” to “grab a coffee.” Ravioli also has an assistant who tells Olivia he is very busy, and a wife named Kweeda, who sadly dies of that dreaded urban disease Bitterosity (also prone to strike writers, I hear). Olivia also announces to her father that “Ravioli read your book. He didn’t like it much.” Everyone is a critic.

A famous set of literary IFs belonged to the Brontes, of course. A different set-up from the Ravioli gig, the young Brontes had a whole invented universe with their lands of Angria, Gondal, and Gaaldine. What sort of IFs would, say, little Jane Austen have? Young Thomas Hardy? Wee George Eliot? Small Virginia Woolfe (I might be scared of that one!)?

My own IFs were sadly mundane. A man named Bill, his wife Lila, their daughter Eve, and a Scottie dog named Mr. Scott. Their main purpose was to accompany me to the grocery store when I went there with my mother, so I could say “Bill and Lila think we should get Lucky Charms instead of whole wheat bran flakes.” Never worked. And they never did anything so dashing as hop into taxis, either. I think they worked in a library or something.

Anyway, the whole idea of IFs just seemed to tie into what I’ve been doing lately, writing and theater. With every book I feel like I create a whole new crew of Bills and Lilas (though hopefully more interesting!), who seem so real to me as we imagine new adventures together. I don’t usually argue with them in the cereal aisle, but they have been responsible for more than one missed highway exit. I sometimes tend to get caught up in plotting while driving, so if you see a red Toyota with a short brunette at the wheel coming at you, get out of the way!

What kind of IF did you have, or do your children have now? Did your imaginary worlds as a child make you more of a reader/writer? Any ideas on those IFs of famous people? Or suggestions for my Oscar party???

Happy weekend! Hope we can hop into a taxi and grab a coffee soon, even if only in our imagination.

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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17 Responses to Imaginary Friends

  1. I didn’t have an IF growing up, but I did talk to myself all the time.

    My son has many, and sometimes I’ll ask him what he just said, and he replies he was just talking to his imaginary friend.

    Good luck dancing and acting, Amanda! And fabulous news on turning in the book!

  2. Neither I nor my children have had imginary friends, but my sister did. Her imaginary friend was named “High Noon.” We still tease her about it. I think High Noon beats Bill and Lila and maybe even Charlie Ravioli.

    Good luck on the audition, but mostly just have fun doing it!

    Diane

  3. What a fun post, Amanda.

    Congratulations finishing the first of your Muses books. What a grand way to celebrate by dancing and acting. All the best in your audition this afternoon.

  4. I didn’t have imaginary friends as such, but I did have a whole stable of imaginary horses who won the Triple Crown year in and year out. My bike stood in for the horses, and I’d laid out course of varying lengths around the yard to stand for the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. My childhood ambition was to be the first woman jockey to win the Triple Crown, preferably while riding a filly. (Too bad I grew up to be 5’7″ with sturdy-peasant bone structure!)

  5. Jane George says:

    Susan,

    Perhaps we are separated sisters.

    I turned 16 the year Stevie Cauthen won the Triple Crown on Affirmed. (Yes, I’m kinda old, and today is my birthday. πŸ™‚

    I can still taste my jealousy of Stevie. I applied my fervor to the track team, setting school records in the 110 hurdles and 220 sprint. See, if I was a racehorse, I could enbrace competition!

  6. No way, jane george. Today is my birthday, too!!!

    Diane

  7. Happy birthday, Jane and Diane!

    The first Triple Crown I ever watched was Seattle Slew’s victory when I was 6, and I still vividly remember the Affirmed-Alydar stretch duel in the Belmont. I haven’t followed the sport closely as an adult, though I do generally watch the Triple Crown (and was saddened by Barbaro’s fate–such a beautiful, magnificent horse!).

  8. Jane George says:

    Happy Birthday, Diane! Pisces rule. πŸ™‚

    Break a leg, Amanda! On stage, not on the dance floor…

    …or on the racetrack. Susan, I too was sick about Barbaro, but as an adult I can’t much stomach the racing industry. I’m hoping some changes are at least talked about because of his very public loss.

  9. Many, many, many happy returns of the day, Diane and Jane!!!

  10. Happy birthday, Diane!!! And LOL on the imaginary horses, Susan. I grew up in the city, so never got to ride horses much, though I dearly loved to.

    I made callbacks at the audition, so yay! They are Monday evening, so I won’t miss any of the Oscars tomorrow evening. πŸ™‚

  11. Good for you, Amanda!!! Break another leg!!!

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone!

    Diane

  12. Nice to hear about a writer who actually has a life! Break a leg, daaahling.

    Don’t all writers have imaginary friends? Lots of them?

  13. Happy Birthday, Diane & Jane! πŸ™‚

    Good luck on acting Amanda and have fun! I’m thinking my cat has an IF, and it must tell her it’s alright to pee on my bed… πŸ˜‰

    I have alot of various occupational family, I’m related to someone who did win an horse race couple years back (I love riding myself and done racing at family events alot)and related to an actour… I guess I never needed an IF, but I think it’s cute when kids have them :)But then, if one writes they could consider their charactours IF? πŸ˜‰

  14. Santa says:

    Happy Birthday, Diane and Jane!

    Congrats on finishing the book, Amanda! And break a leg!

    I didn’t really have imaginary friends but I used to pretend that my life was a TV show and I’d sign off every night.

    My oldest has a very fertile imagination and has created a whole world in which she and her siblings are members with names, powers, abilities, talisman…well, you name it. She’s even developed a language.

    Dinner on Saturdays are theme nights. She is intrigued by Colonial America (thanks to American Girl series) and so my kids christen themselves Charity, Patience and Josiah. My husband William (who is sometimes a merchant, sometimes a farmer) presides over dinner and I (Mother) cook over the hearth and weave or do I sew…I can never remember. We have servants and an occasional indentured servant.

    Tonight, we occupied Middle Earth, a welcome change.

  15. Santa, I LOVE that you used to “sign off” every night. That is a riot. And cudos to you for feeding your daughter’s imagination. A dinner theme night and everyone plays along..what FUN!!

    Mallory, methinks your cat doesn’t have an IF but a UTI (urinary infection). One of my cats is prone to this and after the last big vet bill, I bought a cat water fountain. All the cats love it and now drink water like crazy!

    Had a lovely birthday dinner with the whole fam (amazing and all I really wanted on my BD)at my favorite Thai restaurant, so no dishes to wash, even!

    Diane

  16. Diane, I’m glad you had a marvelous time with your family. Look forward to chatting with you about your book later today.

    Amanda, you go girl! Please do make the next audtion, and please don’t break a leg (or two).

    Santa, I ADORE the idea of Saturday themed dinners, where imagination is the only costume and set needed. Your daughter is very talented!

    Janet, you’ve found me out. I do have imaginary worlds peopled with the more extraordinary individuals, but not any I’m willing to admit to in out loud. In public.

    Everyone: Please do stop by Candice Hern’s board on Sunday 6pm ET onwards. We’ll be dishing on the Oscar outfits, peculiar speeches, and everything that we can think to comment on.

  17. Mina says:

    I had dozens of IFs. Most of them were characters from the books or tv shows I was into at any given time. I’d make up stories with them and act them out (I still don’t understand why I don’t write fan fic :).

    I also had a stuffed animal that had a personality. She’s a Pound Puppy named Gizmo. I don’t know if that counts.

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