That always follows you. Good morning, from me and Jonathan Coulton, whose song inspired today’s blog post. Actually, no it didn’t. I just like the song. Today’s blog post is definitely about Laren. Who’s Laren you say? THANK YOU FOR ASKING!
Laren was my imaginary best friend. Being an only child can be a lonely affair. You spend a lot of time with no one to punch, no one to blame for your fuck ups, and no one to force feed shit and worm mud pies to. As such you’re required to invent your own friends to abuse, though I’m now conjuring images of a smaller version of Hillary beating the crap out of a Cabbage Patch Kid and screaming “DO YOU WANT ANOTHER LYLE BAILEY, DO YOU WANT ANOTHER?!”. (Note, I remember the name of my first Cabbage Patch Kid, but not important things like whether or not I took my medicine this morning. Psycho much? Why yes, thank you).
Now, to be clear, Laren didn’t start out as an imaginary friend. She was a creepy doll first.
I don’t know how I got her, but she was an enormous yarn-haired Goliath with a painted face and a cheap looking dress. As far as the doll community goes, she ranked somewhere between streetwalker and lunch lady. My memories of her are a little vague, but in my defense I was four when I had her (mind you, my mother would claim I was 16, but she’s a liar and SHUT UP). Anyway, I remember Laren’s gorgeous yellow locks sticking out of her head in every direction, and that eerie clown smile that would never fade no matter how many smelt I tried to give her at breakfast.**
Mom says I adored Laren, to the point I took her everywhere. She inevitably started smelling like a cross between old people farts and Cheetos after a while, but I didn’t care. It was MY bad stink. I made it, I was proud of it, and damn it all, Laren was my homegirl. My parents, trying to protect their noses from my four year old form of terrorism, decided it was time to make Laren “go away”. See, while Laren existed, no other doll would do. They’d done the typical parental thing of trying to bribe me with newer dolls, but they apparently weren’t scary or offensive enough for me, and I’d cling to Laren with something akin to desperation. My mother, feeling guilted by the small thing in front of her crying over her doll, would attempt to patch Laren up by washing her or washing her dress or spraying her with whatever the early 80’s version of Febreeze was, which was probably Glade in an ozone-destroying aerosol can. It’d work for a while, but then the day came when no amount of washing or perfuming was going to do. Laren was so bad she offended the dogs. I don’t know who got the unenviable task of getting Laren out of my grubby little hands and into the trash, but someone did a snatch and grab and tossed Laren into a Rubbermaid outside of my grandparents house. Her feet poked out of the side, awaiting her long, final journey to the dump in my grandfather’s Cadillac. My tiny psychic powers (or perhaps the odor trails coming from outside of the house instead of to my immediate right) told me something terrible had just occurred in West Bridgewater. I stumbled around in a frenzy, looking for my precious Laren, likely quoting emo soliloquies from Hamlet as I searched for my best bud.
Aaaand then I promptly found her in the trash. I dug her out, brought her back into the house, and commenced playing with her like nothing had happened. My parents resorted to guerrilla warfare tactics to nuke the doll after that, and eventually, much to my chagrin, Laren was buried under Giants stadium, her remains forever lost to time. That may have been Jimmy Hoffa, but in my world it’s the same as what happened to Laren. Left to grieve for my odoriferous best pal, I did what any only child in my place would do: I started talking to myself, claiming it was Laren. Cause yeah, in retrospect, that’s not at all crazy.
Laren stayed with me for a good long while. I’d try to give you an approximate age that she finally left me – it may have been in Mrs. Cullens kindergarten class when I realized other small beings like myself actually existed, and damn it why can’t I use the green handled scissors instead of the stupid plain righty scissors – but the truth is, I don’t think she ever left me. I think she’s why I write to this day. A cast of characters is much like a passel of imaginary friends that only I can hear. Sometimes they kiss, sometimes they fight. Sometimes they stab deer and offer deer guts up to Satan in a really fucked up ritual. It’s all the same as playing with your imaginary best friend when you’re five, isn’t it? The stories just get bigger in theme, and darker. There’s more swearing, you’ve introduced fucking into the mix, but the fact is . . . if I wanna make someone eat a worm and shit mud pie, all I gotta do is sit at my desk and start writing. And BAM! Just like that Laren’s back, 28 years later.
Kinda interesting to think about, really.
So tell me, did you have an imaginary friend? And if so, whatever happened to them?
((* An aside. My grandmother was half Welsh, and as such, she ate fish in the morning for breakfast, as Welshies are wont to do. So I’d wake up every morning to a house that reeked of fish, and you know what? I couldn’t have been happier about it. I’d sit down at the kitchen table and eat those fishy little bastards Gram hucked at my plate. Up ’til the day she died she claimed it’s why I’m as smart as I am. Yep. You guys got Booberry, I got fish with bones still intact. And I loved every minute of it. Life’s a beautiful thing.))