An Imaginary Friend by Ted Scott

I’ve never had an imaginary friend and I’ve never known someone who has, but I suppose that it’s possible so I’ll try to construct one and maybe have some conversations with him.
Or her; maybe that’s the way to go, an imaginary girlfriend. I don’t suppose Val will mind, since it’ll all be imaginary.
I think I’ll call her Veronica, since I don’t know anyone with that name. It might be confusing if I named her Susan or Elaine or any of a bunch of other common names that I associate with real people. To me, Veronica is the name of Archie’s girlfriend in the comic book of 65 years ago. She had long black hair and was sexy and sophisticated, a little too much for Archie, who was better suited to Betty, a sweet blond girl. But Veronica was probably 17 and here I am 79. I’ve got kids in their 40s and grandkids in their preteens, but teenagers are a mystery to me, so I think I’ll have to let Veronica age a little if we’re going to have a successful relationship. I was thinking 40, but maybe 60 is a little easier.
Let’s say that today is her birthday. She’s 60.
Me: Happy birthday Veronica, how does it feel to be 60?
V: Oh; Woe is me. I thought I was 17.
Me: Well, look in the mirror. You can see you’re not 17 anymore; but you’ve still got beautiful hair, even if it is a little different color.
V: Is that supposed to be a compliment? Where are Archie and Betty and Jughead and the rest of the gang?
Me: I think they’re still back in comic book land, but I’ve rescued you. Now you can grow and be yourself.
V: But I liked being 17.
Me: Well I did too, but things change. There was a war going on; well actually just finishing. They ended the draft just in time for me, and the next war didn’t start right away. I was just the right age to miss both wars. Of course I could have joined up if I wanted to, but I had seen enough of what happened to those young men to want to avoid it. And just think of all that carnage and killing; for what purpose? Did it save us from the tyranny of the North Koreans or the Vietnamese? They hardly knew we existed until we were killing them.
V: I didn’t know about those wars. Nobody got drafted in comic book land. You seem to have a thing about wars. Do you still think that way?
Me: Yes. They don’t draft young men these days, but there’s still a lot of pressure to fight. The economy has changed. You can’t just get a permanent job that will give you security and benefits your whole life anymore. You have to worry about your employer being taken over and your losing your job and about your retirement and not being able to send your kids to college. In some ways the military offers the most secure employment. The pay is a lot better than the $70 a month that the Vietnam draftees got, but there’s a lot of downside to the job.
V: Let’s not talk about war anymore. What about all those wonderful gadgets I’ve been hearing about; like the iPhone and such.
Me: You’re right. There are some new gadgets and new things to do. Back then you couldn’t even listen to the radio outside. You had to be plugged in. If you wanted music you had to make it yourself or go to a concert. If you wanted to talk with friends you had to go to their house or meet up at the soda fountain. Now a days, the word is mobile. People are always on the move, and communication is constant. And among teens, it’s texting.
V: What’s that?
Me: Texting is where you type out your words on a tiny screen, then push a button to send your message out. It’s almost like being a ham radio operator and sending out Morse code.
V: But I thought you could talk on an iPhone.
Me: You can, but that’s not the preferred way of communication these days. Young people prefer to interact in chunks. Without the careful synchronization that is necessary in a live conversation. I’m not sure why that is, but my wife does it all the time with the kids.
V: You’re married; with kids?
Me: Yes, I thought you knew that.
V: No, I’m just a 17 year old from 1955. I was hoping we could go on a date; maybe to a drive in. I’d like that.
Me: Well there aren’t any drive ins these days. If you want to watch a movie, you go on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
V: Well maybe I should meet your wife. I’d like to see what she’s like. Maybe we could all go have a soda together.
Me: I think that would be fine, but she probably couldn’t see you or hear you. That’s because you’re not real. You’re just an imaginary friend.
V: How can that be? I can see you and hear you. And we’re having a real conversation.
Me: I’m sorry to disappoint you. This whole thing is Janet’s fault. She was the one who gave out the prompt to tell about an imaginary friend. Maybe you should go back to comic book land.
V: I think you’re right. That was a happier time for me.
Me: OK; Thanks for trying. Maybe next time I call you, you can be my age. Then we’ll have more in common.

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Seasons by Estelle Cade

A New Englander, born and bred as they say, I watch the gradual changing of the foliage from green to a myriad of wonderful colors, and while admiring them, begin to dread the season that follows – winter.

Picturesque – oh yes, I’ll admit to the beauty of our snowy days, with feathery, frosty flakes falling softly all around and to the glory of the glittering days following an ice storm, with every branch and wildflower stalk encased in a sheath of ice. When the sun comes out it is an amazing spectacle.

And then, so not picturesque – cars buried in snow drifts as the plows thunder past you; errands left undone because the driveway is not yet cleared and the snow blower today has “issues” or after the ice storm when the power is out for days and people are freezing and frightened.

Shall we speak also of the mundane matters of winter – bundling small children into their layers of winter gear and then stuffing them into uncooperative car seats; of bundling ourselves also into the tyranny of coat, hat, gloves, scarf and probably boots as well, for days on end. And for the many of us who do not have garages there is the unalloyed pleasure of having to go out after every storm and clean off the car.

Ah yes, winter – dark mornings and long dark nights – we all feel like moles after a while. Then suddenly – right around Valentine’s Day – and perhaps another huge snow storm, the sunset comes a few seconds later, a few small bird calls can be heard if you listen carefully enough; there is a lighter feeling to the air around us and the local farmers can be seen in the woods, tapping their maples for the sugaring season.

Spring is tiptoeing to our corner of the world and my disposition switches from Neutral to Positive. I try to avoid saying ‘I hate winter’   – so negative – but I have to admit that I do prefer the days of flowers and softer temperatures.

Here I go – time to put the snow shovel back in the car.