Imagination is always the place I go in times of trouble. I have a part of my silly old brain devoted to dancing the cartoon dance of the dundering doofus. It has to be there that I flee to and hide because problems and mistakes and guilt and pessimism are constantly building un-funny tiger-traps of gloom for me to rot at the bottom of. You combat the darkness with bright light. You combat hatred with love. You combat unhappiness with silly cartoonish imaginings. Well… maybe you don’t. But I do.
When reading the Sunday funnies in the newspaper on lazy Sunday afternoons, I spent years admiring Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes for its artistry and imaginative humor, believing it was about a kid who actually had a pet talking tiger. I didn’t get the notion that Hobbes was actually a toy tiger for the longest time. That’s because it was basically the story of my own boyhood. I had a stuffed tiger when I was small. He talked. He went on adventures with me. And he talked me into breaking stuff and getting into trouble with Mom and Dad. It was absolutely realistic to me.
I have always lived in my imagination. Few people see the world the way I view it. I have at least four imaginary children to go along with the three that everybody insists are real. There’s Radasha, the boy faun, my novel characters Tim Kellogg and Valerie Clarke, and the ghost dog that lurks around the house, especially at night. That plus Dorin, Henry, and the Princess (the three fake names that I use in this blog for my three real children).
Have you noticed how Watterson’s water-color backgrounds fade into white nothingness the way daydreams do? Calvin and Hobbes were always a cartoon about turning the unreal into the real, turning ideas upside down and looking at them through the filter-glasses of Spaceman Spiff.
Unique and wonderful solutions to life’s problems can come about that way. I mean, I can’t actually use a bloggular raygun to vaporize city pool inspectors, but I can put ideas together in unusual ways to overcome challenges. I almost got the pool running again by problem-solving and repairing cracks myself.
So, I am now facing the tasks of working out a chapter 13 bankruptcy and having a swimming pool removed. The Princess will need to be driven to and from school each day. I will need to help Henry find another after-school job. And the cool thing is, my imaginary friends will all be along for the ride. Thank you, Calvin. Thank you, Hobbes. You made it all possible. So, please, keep dancing the dance of the dundering doofus.