I have been reading a couple of books by Bob Goff, a whimsical fellow who holds office hours on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland, and I am aware that whimsy and I have become strangers of late.
It’s not unrelated to my beloved, Red, moving into hospice care a month ago; it’s hard to be in touch with whimsy at a time like this. Red has recovered somewhat from medicine’s aggressive assault on her lymphoma, she is very much her old self and we have nice visits together, but the disease lurks in the background waiting to re-assert itself. For now, the respite is a blessing.
I have made friends with whimsy from time to time. Myke Phoenix’s friends include a half-man-half-duck and a sentient green vase. Adam Comfort’s private investigator partner is a pookha who takes the form of a 6 1/2 foot tall skunk woman named Joy. Jeep Thompson visits a swamp full of snoggles and departs with a new friend named Snooger.
Whimsy and I are almost pals, but I keep losing sight of him or her or them or whatever. So how do I find my way back down Whimsy Street? Will I find it frozen in mid-swing in the forest with a can of oil nearby? Is there a rabbit hole where whimsy may be discovered underfoot, late for a very important date? Is it drunk and in charge of a bicycle? Or is it simply a frog smiling up from a lily pad in Central Park or a pond in the back woods? Yo, Whimsy! Where are you hiding today?
Could it be as simple as the glint in a puppy’s eye as she discovers a dust bunny or a bit of fur shed by an aging cat? And what of the cat — Are her yowls in the night an incantation of dark magic that may envelop the house if the innocent puppy can’t save it in time? She is an aging black cat after all, and what is more darkly magical than a black cat? Or do we turn the cliche and discover that the crotchety old black cat is in fact the grand good wizard, the Gandalf of feline energy standing dark and rickety against the even darker menace beyond?
Long ago I woke up and cried, “Whimsy! I shall pursue whimsy in all things!” But she just smiled and turned away, like the girl who sang the blues in “American Pie,” and I pursued others rather than chase her that much harder. Whimsy and I, we made a good team, or at least I thought so, but in the end she only wanted to be my friend. Still, being friends with whimsy, couldn’t we make that work? A cat clock with roving eyes and pendulum tail — a moose in a fedora on my top shelf — a woody woodpecker laughing in the back yard — a snow globe in the desert — it’s all there at a whim, so what am I waiting for?
The cardinal has hopped to the patio door again a time or two in recent days. I doubt he wants to come in, but I’m glad to see him visit. Perhaps he’s bringing whimsy home on his own.
I need a supply of whimsy to bring Jeep Thompson home, and Adam Comfort, and several other characters and critters buzzing around in my brain. If I were just to finish what I’ve started, I may not be a noted novelist, but at least I’d have novels.
Oh, don’t ask me what’s stopping me from finishing their stories. I am stopping me. Don’t ask me why — if I knew that answer I would stop stopping myself.
And look, there is my cardinal; he arrived just after I wrote about him. He’s perched on the deck chair a foot from the window, and now he’s fluttered to the deck railing, and then over to a tree.
It’s good to see you, Red, I call to him — oh! “Red …”
And now I know my world will always have cardinals.