When I was a lad
I had the best friend in the world. He was short, a little hairy, and had a banana
addiction. He was also a snappy dresser, if a little incomplete. He wore plaid trousers with little red braces with metal buckles, but no shirt or shoes. He went everywhere with me. When our family went on vacation he was there. When we went to the store or to visit relatives, my friend was always there to keep me company. He even slept with me.
I know that your best friend sleeping with you might sound a little strange, but really it’s okay. My best friend was a stuffed monkey. He held a plastic banana in his right hand and his mouth was frozen in a half open smile. His name was Sam. We were inseparable for years.
I couldn’t tell you now when I first got Sam or even how I got him. He might have been a Christmas gift or a birthday present. I can only really remember him being there from the age of about five. My age not his. I wonder why I can’t remember getting him. I still remember vividly the first special Christmas present I ever got. It was a tank that was “remote” controlled. Of course remote in those days meant a primitive controller attached to the tank by a wire. It shot missiles and went forward, backward and could turn in circles. It also (I think) made a cool tank noise. I must have been about four or five years old. I also remember finally losing the last of the missiles when I was about six. I still think it classes as the best Christmas gift I ever received.
Sam however was the most lasting gift. I had him for years. Like I said, we were inseparable. Right up until he turned on me.
As I mentioned, Sam slept with me every night. I don’t mean “cuddled-up-together” sleeping. I mean Sam had his side of the bed and his own people sized pillow. Sam needed his own space you see. Because to me Sam was real. He had his own side of the car. His own chair at the dinner table. His own space on the sofa. And my mother, bless her, treated Sam as if he were real as well.
Every night, she would tuck us both into bed. We would each get a kiss – I’d get upset if Sam didn’t get his – and checking the see that the closet door was closed, leave my room and turn out the light. This ritual was repeated without fail until I was seven. That was when everything changed.
Literally seconds after Mom closed the door, Sam sat up in bed and growled at me. My reaction was instantaneous and final. I screamed bloody murder and knocked him out of bed. Mom came rushing back in to find me in a hysterical heap. With tears streaming I told what Sam had done and that I NEVER wanted to see him again. Sam was then relegated to the attic, where to the best of my knowledge, he still resides.
Years later my mother told me that my sub-concious seven year old mind was just telling me that I had out-grown my childhood friend. That it was telling me I couldn’t have my imaginary best friend any more. It was time to move on
Now I don’t know what this whole episode from my childhood means. I know that I think it is a little odd that I had a stuffed monkey for an imaginary friend until I was seven. That is, I’m sure, way past the age of imaginary friends. I also don’t know if I was going through a stage of arrested development or if I was just lonely or if I was just over imaginative.
I do know one thing though. Sam really did set up in bed and growl at me. I just don’t know why. I wonder if I was “hogging” the covers?
Note: I have to thank Jordan Michael Lopez for jolting this memory from my ageing noggin. His stuffed toy story brought it rushing back. Thanks Jordan!