Imaginary Friends Are Imaginary

Someone reminded me about my imaginary friend the other day, and it got me to thinking.  Most kids have at least one imaginary friend when they’re growing up, right?  So here’s mine.

When we moved into our first “real” house I was five or six.  It was just my mom and me, no dad to speak of, and it was the first house we actually owned.  Someone, either a relative or a friend of my mom’s bought me this giant anthropomorphic dog named Henry.  Henry was about my height (so figure about 3 feet tall or so) and sat on my bed.  And at night, I curled up with him. Now somewhere around this time, I became convinced that Henry was actually two people.  He was my stuffed dog, but he was also a really old ghost named….appropriately, Henry.  (Could you imagine being a ghost trapped inside a Henry dog and your name was really Frank?  How embarassing!)  Henry the ghost lived inside Henry the dog.  And Henry the dog never left my bed.  But Henry the ghost never actually liked to hang out the way Henry the dog did.  He was old and crotchety.

Note:  this picture of Henry is close (I remember him having his name stitched onto his chest) but it isn’t MY Henry.  My Henry was much bigger and cuddlier than these imitations.

So when I had a nightmare about a man hiding in our basement who was trying to kidnap me, and I was so terrified I actually went to our neighbor and demanded he investigate our basement, Henry the dog was there.  But when I had a dream about evil ghosts that lived in my house that wanted to steal my mouth (actually, they wanted to steal just my voice, but give me a break, I was six), it was Henry the ghost that kept me safe.  Henry the dog protected me from all the real dangers, and Henry the ghost from all the dreams and nightmares.

I also knew that my imaginary friends wouldn’t leave the house.  Some of the kids I knew had imaginary friends that traveled with them, playing outside or down the block, but mine never did.  Apparently, my imaginary friends were nesters.

The other thing I remember is knowing the whole thing was absurb.  I was a somewhat annoyingly perceptive kid.  Here I was, with two imaginary friends, and yet I knew instinctively that they didn’t REALLY exist.  I knew they were only in my head.  Just like I knew that people always tried explaining things to me that I already understood.  And yet the Henrys stuck around until I didn’t need them anymore, and maybe a little longer than that.

So what about you guys?  Any fun imaginary friends from when you were a kid?

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One thought on “Imaginary Friends Are Imaginary

  1. I don’t recall having any imaginary friends. I had my toys, and I would make them interact and come up with very elaborate stories and adventures for them to go on, but I think I was always quite aware that I was the one in charge. I also would pretend to be different people and things and act out those stories, but even when I was playing by myself, any invisible being I interacted with was created just for that purpose and wouldn’t return after I was done with them. Not so much a friend as a prop. I don’t think even the idea of my toys being alive independent of me crossed my mind until Toy Story came out. But maybe I just don’t remember; will have to ask the parents.

    It’s funny that I was so in charge of my play stories, though, because I never was in charge of my dreams. In fact, I tended to be a secondary character, and if anyone died in my dream, I would definitely be the first. And then the dream would go on without me; my dreams have always played out like movies, being shot from a completely independent angle rather than me seeing it through my dream-self’s eyes. In my teen years I thankfully started to become my dreams’ protagonist and now rarely die at all, though often the “me” in the dream looks (and acts) completely different. Race, sex, features, my subconscious interchanges it all. I suppose my subconscious idea of “that person there is me” in the dream is a rather baldfaced interpretation of identifying with the protagonist.

    And that comment got away with me there. But yes, I’ve always been a little jealous of people who had imaginary friends as kids. It sounds so very appealing, and I was hardly a social butterfly as a child, so I’m surprised I never had one.

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