It pretty much goes without saying that, since I am an author of fiction, determined to be a storyteller, I spend most of my time talking to people who exist only inside my goofy old head. Sure, most of the imaginary people I create to keep me company are at least loosely based on real people that I either once knew, or still know. You can tell that about Millis, the rabbit-man, pictured here on the right, can’t you? Sure. I had a New Zealand White pet rabbit that I raised as a 4-H project. His name was Ember-eyes… because, well, yeah… red eyes. It just happens that my goofy old memory transformed him into an evolution-enhanced science experiment in my unpublished novel, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius. But he was a real person once… ’cause rabbits are people too, right?
Anita Jones, a character from my unpublished novel, Superchicken, is based on a real person too. I admit, there was a girl in my class from grades K through 6 that I secretly adored and would’ve done anything to be near, though every significant event I remember from my life that involved an encounter with her, involved red-faced embarrassment for me. That’s why I remember her as having auburn-colored hair. Charley Brown’s Little Red-Haired Girl… duh! I would’ve died sooner than tell her how I really felt, even now, but by making her into one of a multitude of imaginary people who inhabit my life, I can be so close to her that sometimes I am actually inside her mind. There’s a sort of creepy voyeurism-squared sort of thing.
Dorin Dobbs, the main human character of my published novel, Catch a Falling Star, is an imaginary character based mostly on my eldest son, though, in fact, I started writing that novel five years before he was born. Like most of the imaginary people in my life, I talk to Dorin repeatedly even when the real Dorin is half a world away in the Marine Corps. And even though the Dorin I am talking to is not the real Dorin, he is still constantly using language that is extra-salty far beyond his years, and is often defiant of my fatherly wisdom, and always argues for the exact opposite of any opinion I express. That’s just how it is to be the father of an imaginary son.
Realistically, I have to admit that even the flesh-and-blood people in my life are imaginary. No one ever actually inhabits another person’s head except through the magic of imagination. Even though I am talking to you at this moment, you are only an imaginary person to me. I don’t even know your name as I write this. And I am the same to you. You may have read my writing enough to think you know something about me… but you really only know the Mickey in your mind that I have worked at putting there with my words. And I really have no idea what that imaginary Mickey you have in your head is like. He is probably really the opposite of who I think I am.
I am, after all, married to this girl panda, Mandy Panda from the Pandalore Islands, and my three children are all Halfasian part-panda-people. Yes, this is the imaginary person who is my real-life wife. The secret is, we only ever know the imaginary people we have in our goofy little heads. We don’t know the real person behind anyone in our lives, because it is simply not possible to really know how anybody else thinks or feels, even if they write out their lengthy treatise about how all people are imaginary people. That stuff is just too goofy-dippy to be real.