Thursday, October 22, 2015

Zoe vs. Imaginary Grandpa:
A Spooky Story

Zoe has an imaginary grandpa, and it's creeping me out. Most children who have imaginary friends create someone their own age, a contemporary. Not Zoe. Her buddy is entitled to reduced-fare on public transportation and discounts at the movies.
If he were real.

Zoe's references to "Grampa" started about a year or so ago. Since both of Zoe's real grandfathers died before she was born, it's a little spooky. Here's one of my Facebook posts from January:
Zoe has no living grandfathers, but lately 
she's been talking about her Grampa
I asked her about him and she said: 
"He lives in the country and his name is Never."
The rational part of me realizes it's all a power play. Whenever she feels the need to appeal to an authority, her imaginary grandpa enters the conversation.
"Grampa says I can have candy before dinner."
"That's suspicious," I'll say.
But irrationally . . .
See, at first Grampa may have lived in the country, but lately he's been getting closer.
"My grampa? He lives in the city. He told me insert topic she knows nothing about, like, macrame or Norman Mailer." 
Really, I'll say, macrame?
"Yes, Grampa told me. When I was two."
That's another eerie thing. Most of her "interactions" with Grampa took place when she was two years old.
I'll say, I don't remember that. Or: Where was I when you were with Grampa?
She won't answer, not even when I ask which grandfather: Mommy's Daddy or Daddy's Daddy? Usually, though, it's neither of them.
It was funny at first but recently it's been getting all "the call is coming from inside the house."
Especially as Grampa's moving closer daily.
We were in a cab coming back from a birthday party when she pointed out the window at a house near the park we frequent and said, "Grampa lives there." 
We were walking home from after-school last week and she pointed across the street. "Grampa lives there."
Either Grampa is like the Force, omnipresent, or we've got ourselves a stalker of advanced age.
So now I find myself looking over my shoulder and hurrying down the block past certain houses in case Grampa's peering out with his wise old creepy eyes.
The other night I came home late and could've sworn I heard slipper-shod feet shuffling after me. But when I turned to look, nothing was there but the latent scent of a Werther's Original hard candy.
Meanwhile, more and more, Zoe's using Grampa to suit her nefarious purposes.

The other night she told me: "Grampa said I don't have to take a bath."
"Oh yeah?" I said, "Well, Grampa's not here. . . . Wait. I mean. It doesn't matter what Grandpa says. Mommy's in charge."
"Nice recovery," The Husband said from the kitchen.
Or: "Grampa says I can read four books before bed." (Instead of the usual three.)
"Oh yeah?" I said. "Is he here? Because then he can read them."
Or: "Grampa taught me karate."
"When you were two?" 
"No. . . ."
Her very deliberate pause let me know I'd overstepped.
She continued: "When I was two years old."
Then we nodded at each other and retired to our separate corners, where we both kept hidden stashes of candy we shared only in our imaginations.

This post is dedicated to my dad, who would've been eighty-seven on Sunday. He never got to meet Zoe but would've gotten a kick out of her. Probably right in the shins.

The fam, mid 70s. Not pictured:
 the sun, my mortal enemy.

Zoe: 114; Universe: 0
For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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