Tag Archive for: Calvin and Hobbes

Gay Yellen: Imaginary Friends

Dickie George was his name, my first imaginary friend. I was the only four-year-old among a household of grown-ups, so I suppose he was my way of having a ready-made playmate whenever I wanted an adventure.

At the dinner table, I would regularly share news of his latest exploits with my Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and teenage aunt. And they lovingly played along.

For me, there was no doubt that Dickie George was real. I was a well-mannered child, but he enjoyed all kinds of tricky activities, doing things that would have gotten an ordinary kid in trouble, like the time he stuck a broom in Grandma’s washing machine. Yes he did.

Somewhere along the way to kindergarten, I lost track of Dickie George. But he remains in the family lore of my childhood, and in my memory, too.

Later, when I 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 even playmates. And Hobbes, too, all of them living together in the fantastical universe created by children’s imaginations.

I have new imaginary friends now, with names like Samantha and Carter and Lizzie and Gertie. As a grown-up author, I’m supposed to describe them as the characters in my books. Yet when I’m writing, they are as alive in my mind as Dickie George was so many decades ago. I often find myself following them and reporting on their activities, rather than forcing actions on them. Not always, but often enough that I can feel a trace of the little-girl me who once had an imaginary playmate. 

Did you have imaginary friends in your childhood?
What were they like? Please share in the Comments, below.

Gay Yellen is a former magazine and book editor. She writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series: The Body Business and The Body Next DoorBook #3 is slated for release in 2021. Gay would love to hear from you, here, on Facebook, or at her website, GayYellen.com, where this post was originally published.