I wrote the following post – Imaginary Friends – back in November 2015. I’ve reposted it in loving memory of our friend, Ted, who read this blog avidly. We lost him on Christmas Day.
Last night, after the café closed, our gay friends Gary and Ted came around. It was their monthly pilgrimage to The Spanish Onion to play poker. I don’t know why Guido and I bother. We might as well open our wallets at the front door and just hand them all our cash. Not surprisingly, after a few drinks, the conversation drifted to my high school reunion trauma. As it turned out Gary and Ted had a couple of revelations of their own to reveal.
“I think you were very honest,” said Ted sucking an olive, “and brave too.” He threw a card and drank some wine. “I’ll raise you.”
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken,” said Gary profoundly staring at his cards. “Though Ted hasn’t always followed that advice,” he sniffed, “you don’t know about Mary, do you?” He threw a card too. “I’ll see you and raise you.”
“Ah lovely, funny, sweet, silly Mary,” said Ted. He lifted his glass and made a toast. “To the woman I used to go out with.” He chewed a macadamia.
“Mary?” I said. “The woman, you used to go out with?”
“Mary dated a gay man?” said Guido. “What was she, headless? I’ll see you and raise you.”
It turns out that before Ted was, well, out, and before he married Gary, he had an imaginary girlfriend. Mary cooked cordon bleu, spoke fluent Cantonese, and played the oboe. She was quite a catch. It’s just a pity she hadn’t actually existed and Ted wasn’t straight otherwise I reckon they would’ve been perfect for one another. The helpful thing about Mary was that she also had an irrational fear of crowds, so didn’t get out that much and none of Ted’s friends ever got to meet her. That was convenient. I have to say I thought the oboe was a terrific touch.
“I didn’t care if people knew I was gay, but I did care if they thought I was sad and single,” said Gary. So Gary’s imaginary boyfriend was named Eric. Apparently he was quite a looker. They pumped iron together at the gym. That is unless Gary did actually happen to be at the gym, in which case he told people Eric was an eye surgeon and was busy mending someone’s detached retina.
“When I was a little boy I had an imaginary friend,” said Guido staring into space, “his name was Jose R. Sanchez.”
“Well I didn’t see that one coming,” I said raising my eyebrows. “Your imaginary friend had a middle name?” I asked.
“Yes, but I have no idea what it was,” said Guido. “Gimmie a break, I was only six years old.”
Just for the record I’ve never had imaginary friends. And frankly I was beginning to feel left out.
“Perhaps Mary and Eric could adopt Jose R. Sanchez and then live an incredibly happy imaginary life together,” I said.
Later that night I lay in bed next to Guido. I couldn’t help but think about Jose R. Sanchez. I imagined what sort of life he might have had and whether he would have grown up to be incredibly hairy. I wondered if he might have a man bun. I wondered if he would cook a decent risotto and whether he’d be partial to acrobatic sex.
I reached the sad conclusion these were yet more mysteries on which I can give you no further details. But please feel free to make one up.