Imaginary Friends

Dickie George was his name, my first imaginary friend. As the only four-year-old among an extended family of grown-ups, I suppose it was the easiest way to have a same-age playmate anytime I wanted an adventure. At the dinner table, I would relate the exploits of Dickie George to my Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and teen-age aunt, and enjoy their seemingly complete suspension of disbelief. To me, there was no doubt that he was a real person, a boy who did amazing things.
Dickie George was the little rascal who stuck the broom in the washing machine. Yes he was.

Somewhere along the way to becoming a Kindergartner, I lost track of Dickie George. But he stayed in the family lore of my childhood and in my memory, too. When I first encountered the brilliant Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, I would catch myself peering deeply into each panel in search of Dickie George, certain that he and Calvin were soulmates, and maybe playmates, living in the world of imagination.

I have new imaginary friends now, with names like Samantha and Carter and Lizzie and Gertie. As a grown-up author, I’m forced to call them by another name: the characters in my books. But as I write, they are alive in my mind, so much so that I often find myself following them around and reporting their activities instead of forcing action on them. Not always, but often enough that I can feel a kinship with the little-girl me who once had an imaginary playmate.

What about you? Did you have imaginary playmates in your childhood? Were they mischievous children, like Dickie George, or more like a stuffed tiger named Hobbes who shared your exciting adventures?

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Gay Yellen

Gay Yellen (@GayYellen) writes award-winning mysteries with a touch of humor and romance, and on occasion, silly verse. Her mystery series features Samantha Newman, a quirky young woman in search of a meaningful life who must solve a crime or two along the way.

Gay is a former actress, short-film producer and an award-winning magazine editor. She was the contributing editor for the international thriller, Five Minutes to Midnight (Delacorte). With two published novels in The Samantha Newman Mystery Series—The Body Business and The Body Next Door—she’s working on Book #3.

Gay loves connecting with book clubs and readers everywhere.

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8 thoughts on “Imaginary Friends

  1. Hello from your serious little cousin, recipient of some lovely hand me downs, thank you. “Serious,”
    because my imaginary friend (never spoken of at the dinner table) was “Conscien.” Yes, that inner voice. Kind of a “Pilgrim’s Progress” name, isn’t it? No wonder I’m not a fiction writer.

    1. I thought I replied to this earlier, Gigi, but perhaps I did not. I love that you had an imaginary friend, too, and am not at all surprised at the name. Good one from a deep-thinker like you.

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