I’m on vacation, which I assumed was going to mean copious amounts of sleep, and long genius writing sessions – preferably atop of some green hill while the perfect musical accompaniment plays in my tiny, inspired ears.
That, sadly, is not the case. Sigh. One can dream.
Instead, it means watching copious amounts of TV on Hulu Plus, because I can’t even be bothered to exert the effort it takes to turn on an actual television set and flip through the myriad of channels at my disposal to find something suitable (and useful) to watch. So I just roll around amidst crumpled covers and candy wrappers, depositing what little energy I have into a solitary index finger that glides across the laptop touchpad, the process culminating in a labored click that transports me to another hour of complete and utter drivel.
Except for Moone Boy.
Moone Boy is a British comedy series centered around a 12 year old boy (Martin Moone) and his imaginary friend, Sean (played by Chris O’Dowd, who you might recognize from such brilliant comedies as the IT Crowd). In it, Martin’s imaginary friend is a grown man powered by the faulty logic of a 12 year old, with occasional hints of maturity and knowledge of how the world actually works. The show, besides being hilarious, spoke to me at such a deep level that I felt compelled to write about it and – in the process – out myself as a completely insane person.
For you see, *I* was one of those kids who had an imaginary friend. (but are you even surprised, though)
Friends, actually. Whole cities of people. They all had families, full backgrounds, and some kind of amazing talent that made them stand out from the rest of humanity. They were all beautiful, and of all different races, and could switch from one race to another if the whim of my imagination required it. They spoke all the languages I spoke, and covered the moral and cultural spectrum to which I was exposed. Watching Moone Boy made me not only ponder the existence of these imaginary friends, but also the science (or lack thereof) behind it.
As a kid, it was something to do. I “opened my eyes” (translated from the Arabic “fatta7ta” – meaning came to, or became aware) in an environment that clashed with my home life. Outside, it was dirt and shabby classrooms, swinging from trees and fighting off stray dogs, street goats, and escaped monkeys (another story for another time). At home, it was the Hardy Boys, Muppet Babies, black and white classic films, and two older brothers who spent their days reading comic books and playing with action figures I wasn’t allowed to touch. In fact, it was more than something to do. It was a way to consolidate the different parts of my life that I was too young to know how to process. So my imaginary buddies were black and white composites of the film characters of old, and Kermit and Piggy. They only spoke English, had puppies, and could touch, read, and play with anything they wanted.
As an adolescent, the imaginary company evolved to keep up with time and place. It was no longer just about consolidation; it was about escape. I was struggling with boundaries, set by both my parents and my own rudimentary moral compass. There was no aimlessly roaming the streets for me; my mother would have none of it. I socialized, but couldn’t get my head around the smoking, the drinking, and the drugs. The clash between Sudanese culture and French lifestyle was a lot to handle, and my attempts to walk the fine line of balance led to labels of zealotry and xenophobia (another story for another time). So I created worlds where I didn’t have to worry about boundaries or repercussions. There, it was a true melting pot; there was no one cultural norm to abide by. We did what we liked, when we liked, how we liked, and there were no adults there to tell us not to. We were all hot, and popular – although my self esteem would never allow me, even in the safety of my own headspace, to get too big for my britches: my imaginary best friend was the hot one, while I was her amazing-but-only-if-you-took-the-time-to-figure-it-out sidekick.
Sad, I know.
As an adult, they have come to serve a less juvenile purpose, although I will admit that the escapist element is ever-present. Yes, my old friends still thrive in the confines of my mind. They help me to work through the issues, and save me the time it would take to explain it to someone else – they already know. If it all gets a little too much, I can just zip down the rabbit hole and be in a place where everyone knows my name and I don’t have to hide, pretend, explain, or defend myself. I am not judged for forgetting the English word for this or misusing the Arabic expression for that, or denounced for cursing in French or complaining in Korean, or guilted for ignoring Chinese (after 5 years of study and money, no less). There, I can stay for hours, or lifetimes, until I decide it safe to come back out.
Or until the thread is tugged, and I am yanked back to reality.