Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Belouis Some “Imagination”
 Imagination “Just An Illusion”
 Esquivel “Mucha Muchacha”
 Barney & Friends “If All The Raindrops”
 Donna Summer “Hot Stuff”
 Henry Mancini “The Pink Panther Theme”
 Julius Fucik “Entry Of The Gladiators”
Imagination is a potent tool. When the clouds are closing in above our heads preparing to burst and piss down our dreams, a decent one of these can make all the difference, and has bailed me out on occasions too numerous to mention. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was one of life’s hopeless dreamers and reality never felt sufficient as my mind hinted at some place far more grand and I was powerless to resist its suggestion. Many years later and little has changed as I’m never happier than when disconnecting for a brief spell and taking a trip to pastures new, wherever they may be. The world still turns around me, time marches on just as incessantly, but my head is too busy in the clouds to spare it a solitary thought. It’s never the same vista either and I think that’s what keeps it so fresh after all this time. Being a creative soul is considered both a blessing and curse and I’m not disputing that assumption for a second. However, every time it all begins to feel like hoodoo, there is a place for me to escape to and count every last one of my blessings.
I always felt a little passed over for not being presented my own bona fide imaginary friend when, in actual fact, he never actually left my side. Conversations with myself were commonplace throughout my childhood, there just wasn’t any great need to vocalize it thus my make-believe buddy was never granted an official identity. Yet he really was ever-present when I think about it and I’m not altogether sure what I would have done without him. Granted, he hasn’t always acted with the requisite kindness, and is prone to a spot of mischief-making from time to time. But all in all he’s not such a bad sort. Some people give their imaginary friends names and could point them out in an identity parade. Not I, and I have to say, I’ve kinda dug on the whole mystery angle. Or at least until recently that is. You see, now would be a good time for some divine intervention, and I’ve spent the entire afternoon searching high and low for him. Perhaps he has scarpered with the loot. Could it be that he has tired of his host? Forty-one years is quite the commitment, maybe he just outgrew me and found himself a new sucker to torment. The thing is, I’m missing said torment.
The way I see it, I have two choices here, and one sounds decidedly more appealing than the other. I could accept the vacancy, be thankful for the time that we shared, light a candle in his honor, then place an advertisement on Craigslist. Alternatively, I could trace back his steps to one of his many known hideouts and have it out with him once and for all. I may not like what I hear but at least there would be some form of closure. Besides, I’ve seen The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and, if there’s one skill nutbags don’t get enough credit for, its their ability to hoodwink us through the classifieds. Better the devil you know right? We may not be on first name terms but my imaginary friend never once tampered with my inhaler or shoved his tit in my infant’s scream box so I make that estimation bang on the money. Of course, this means that an adventure is in order, but anything’s better right now than the same four squalid walls and boundaries tend to make both my dick and balls itch in unison.
First things first, I will need myself a watertight plan as he’s clearly lying low and doesn’t wish to be confronted. Thankfully I have learned rather a lot from our lifelong association and know the kind of shady establishments he likes to hang out in. His is no idyllic Havana, there are no prancing pixies or mystical unicorns in his slipstream, just empty shot glasses and a long trail of venereal destruction. This will require slumming it and collecting a little filth beneath my nails. Whatever it takes, I will find out his beef and get this mess resolved before I can officially be classed as a gastropod. I shit you not, there are slugs with more momentum than me right now and you know things are bad when watching a snail weave its trail provokes a nose bleed. I remember the rules to daydreaming all too well: gaze at a single point with great intensity until which time as your eyes begin to cross, blaze up those neurons, and take the magical mystery tour wherever it leads you. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Alas, certain expeditions are doomed from the offset, and mine appears to fit the profile.
Does anyone know how to repair a flat tire? Trust me to pick the one tour bus in the universe never to have received a full service. To be fair, it did succeed in taking me away before this unforeseen calamity, but I have no idea of my coordinates and primary signs could do with being a little more encouraging. Frustratingly, one’s mind tends not to over decorate transit, and a barren wasteland sprawling as far as they eye can see is hardly a moreish proposition. However, I have a cunning plan don’t you know, and it could soon turn the tide in my favor. If there’s no bridge to cross, then you simply build your own, and it just so happens I have all of the tools at my disposal. Unless I’m woefully mistaken, this is my mind we’re mincing about in, so that should grant me the necessary planning permission to lay any necessary foundations. My imaginary friend isn’t going to know what hit him when I lure him in and here’s how I’m going to do catch me a whopper.
I do know that he is rather partial to tequila so I’ll be needing plenty of poncho and sombrero. He is also a sucker for the bambinos I hear thus I’ve conjured up some busty ultra vixens especially for the occasion. To slow him down further, I ensured that every last one of them hosts an STD so I just have to keep my ear to the ground for any suspicious scratching in the vicinity and nab this rogue while he’s otherwise predisposed. Of course, I’m fully aware of his silver tongue and will need to bring my A-game if I don’t wish to end up soundly bamboozled. Failing that, I’ve got my taser gun and trawler net on hand. One way or another, I shall make sure that his truancy doesn’t go unpunished. I mean, what kind of imaginary friend leaves you hanging anyhoots? And on a Sunday no less when piss all else happens. How is this supposed to bode for the week ahead? I’m telling you this shit has to stop. Why should he be the only friend getting all the benefits while I suck it up like a randy catfish? This has gone some way past finger wag and well into fist shake territory. If there were three words that could hit the nail on the head right now then “Why I Oughta!” would invariably be they.
Well stone the crows, I’ve only gone and fashioned myself a helpful bartender haven’t I? This will be imperative if I am to have any hope whatsoever of tracking down my imaginary friend. You see, while they may be able to mix a mean cocktail, there are other reasons why their services are so vital to passing strangers such as I. It’s their job to listen to everyone’s sordid secrets and remain impartial and they are obliged not to let such information travel any further. If I’m to track down this shady character, then I shall be required to spill my heart out to the man in the dickie bow and pray that he takes pity on me. Failing that, I’ll just get blind drunk and likely choke on my vomit while I sleep. Anything is better than limbo. I guess there is no better time than the present to share my plight with my chosen mixologist. Well would you look at that, his name’s Barney. That just put my mind instantly at ease. Everybody trusts a Barney right? Did you know that Fred Flintstone once let his love for Dino go a little too far? Of course you didn’t as his best friend Barney was on hand to cover up the scandal. This should be a cakewalk.
“Disaronno on the rocks please”
“Excuse me good sir”
“I was hoping you may have an ear to lend a weary traveller such as myself”
“For you, I’ve got two”
“Much obliged. Okay here’s the thing. I’m looking for a man”
“Whatever floats your boat. Mine is not to judge”
“Perhaps I need to be a little clearer on this. I’m not looking for a hook up”
“If you were, I would think no less of you. It’s not my business. I just serve the drinks”
“No really. I think we have our wires crossed”
“Mom’s the word”
“No. I don’t want the word to be mom. I want it to be help. I’m not into guys”
“I see. So you’re in the denial stage then?”
“Denial? No. Listen to me Barney. Sex is the last thing on my mind right now”
“Uh huh. You just want someone to hold you close on those long winter nights am I right?”
“You’ve got this all wrong. I’m heterosexual”
“It’s okay. You can tell me. Won’t go any further”
“Give me strength. Look, are you going to help me or not?”
“On what now?”
“Whether or not you’re going to be a diva”
“A diva? You really have got me all wrong buddy”
“You look like you need another drink”
“Yeah. Only this time make it a double”
“There you go princess. Now then. About this man you’re looking for”
“Whatever. Listen, I’m not sure what he looks like”
“What’s your type?”
“Yeah you know. The strong silent type or someone you can dominate?”
I’m rapidly going off Barneys. Trust me to invent the world’s most frustrating bartender. While I’m working up quite the bar tab, I’m still no closer to locating my imaginary friend and have to fight off Cupid’s arrow to boot. Perhaps I should just give up, get thoroughly pissed, and wake up tomorrow morning with a middle-aged Japanese businessman named Wang. No dagnabbit, I’ve got a mission here and it’ll take more than some disillusioned jackass in a bow tie to sway me from my objective. Whatever he believes my intentions to be is irrelevant, there’s work afoot and I’ll need my very best game face on if I’m to stand any chance whatsoever of cracking this stubborn nut.
“Okay Barney. You got me. I’m positively riddled with gay. My favorite movie is Some Like It Hot and I frequently listen to Donna Summer in my downtime. Now, if you don’t mind, my prostate isn’t milking itself”
“That’s a bit much don’t you think?”
“It’s not the eighties anymore pal. You don’t have to be quite so blatant”
“Sorry. Listen, if you can help me, there’s this one guy I had my eye on and I’d very much like to buy him a drink, perhaps see where it leads”
“And what does this lucky man look like?”
“That’s the thing. I don’t have a real clear-cut idea”
“But you said you’ve had your eye on him”
“Figuratively speaking yes”
“I don’t get paid enough for this”
“I can give you a description. Just not a profile”
“So you want me to humor you then?”
“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m asking. Humor me and better pour me another double while you’re at it”
“Finally we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. My shift ends in twenty minutes and I’ve got The Young & The Restless to catch up on”
“Let’s get down to it then. So here’s what I know”
“Well you don’t seem to know a lot”
“Perhaps if you stopped interrupting me every five seconds, we’d actually get somewhere”
“Feisty little minx aren’t you?”
“Honey you don’t even know the half of it. Right then, huddle close and I shall fill you in”
“Is that what you say to all the bartenders?”
“Only the ones with cute hineys”
“You’re such a bad boy. My mother told me all about boys like you”
Can I not piss a break? Anything will do, hairline fracture, just some kind of end to this constant flow of misfortune. Turns out that Barney is easily turned and I now have to fight off his advances if I’m to get anywhere near finding my mystery man. Better nip this one in the bud before it gets out of hand.
“You’re not my type Barney”
“I see. What is it? My job not pay well enough for you? Give it to me straight. It’s my freakishly oversized feet isn’t it?”
Actually, his feet are fairly mahoosive. They have to be at least size twenty-six. Come to think of it, I’m reasonably assured that they’re clown shoes he’s wearing. They are clown shoes! I’d know those goofy flappers anywhere and happen to possess a pair myself. That reminds me, my imaginary friend wore them too. I now have something to feed back that could turn the tide in my favor.
“Actually his footwear is identical to yours”
“Then it has to be the nose. Everyone finds my nose unsightly”
I don’t have time to assist Barney with his multiple insecurities. Besides, I’m kind of digging on his hooter.
Well tickle my tail pipe and call me Herbie, that’s my next clue right there and staring me dead in the face no less. His bright red honk ball is a carbon copy of the one my imaginary friend hides behind. It’s starting to come right back to me. At this rate, I’ll have this rogue within my sights in no time.
“Your nose is as cute as a button Barney. Uncannily similar to he who I crave”
“I’m too pale aren’t I?”
Jesus wept, this guy is relentless. To be fair, he is looking a tiny bit peaky. Must be the white face paint. Stellar job by the way. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was…A CLOWN!
That’s it. We have pay dirt. My imaginary friend may be elusive when it comes to snap shots, but his ludicrously oversized outfit gives him away every time. It stands to reason that I would craft myself a jester, after all, the second most exercised bone in my entire exoskeleton is the funny one. I always had a fascination for harlequins and now I know why. Thanks to Barney’s uncanny resemblance to my abstract associate, I can offer him a detailed profile after all.
“He looks rather a lot like you actually”
“So it’s my personality then? What’s the matter, am I too needy for you? Give it to me straight”
“You’re fine. I’m finding our little tête-à-tête more than enlightening”
“I just can’t work you out. Anyhoots, another top up?”
I do believe my skills of deduction are unparalleled. You see, the word anyhoots is only too frequent in my day-to-day dialogue and I just remembered where it originated from. That is where imaginary friends come in handy as they are never happier than when creating new alternatives and I distinctly recall mine coming up with anyhoots. There’s a link here somewhere dagnabbit, something I’m missing. Why would Barney be the dead ringer for my figmental familiar if he wasn’t something to do with the whole shady affair? I do believe I just had myself an epiphany.
“What? I’m barely talking to you right now”
“Do you have a brother?”
“Well that’s a real kick in the rubber parts. So not only am I repulsive to you, but you’re only too happy to keep it in the family. Does your callousness know no ends?”
“Just answer the question. You’re doing my nut in”
“I’m an only child, I’ll have you know”
Something really isn’t adding up here. He looks like my imaginary friend, acts like my imaginary friend, uses the kind of phrases my imaginary friend lobs around for shits and giggles. In an alternative universe he could be my imaginary friend. Yet he has never seen another quite like himself. And he tends a freaking bar night after night. Perhaps he’s only partially sighted. This is getting me nowhere fast and anywhere whatsoever a darn sight slower. I think I shall have to chalk this one down to experience and find my imaginary friend another day. Sorry Grueheads but I’m dreadfully beat and all that Disaronno seems to have gone a little to my head so I’m calling it quits. Guess I’d better break the news to Barney. This should be mildly uncomfortable.
“Is that the time? Sorry old bean but I really ought to be hitting the trail”
“Fine with me. I’ve had about all the rejection I can handle for one shift anyhoots. Hope you find whoever it is you’re looking for and I hope that you choke on his balloon animal and he squirts his flower dead in your face. Tally ho loser”
And off he trundles on his rickety tricycle, middle digits fully extended as he pedals away in his size twenty-six boats. What a waste of fucking man hours that was. I’m none the wiser, have a banging headache to look forward to, and haven’t felt so totally demoralized since the seesaw accident I suffered on the cusp of adolescence. That was one nutcracker far from suite. SHIT BALLS! It just dawned on me, that trike was familiar too. I think I just fell in you know. He’s had me hasn’t he? Am I foiled? Did I just waste twenty of all our minutes barking up precisely the right tree and not even knowing it? Moreover, did he just disappear into a puff of smoke, laughing maniacally as he did? Imaginary Friend 1 Dick With Ears 0. Why I oughta!