A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Yesterday, a dear friend of mine, Rosalind (“Ros”) Myers was killed. She was blown to pieces by a bomb, which, I believe, was planted by some renegade members of the CIA. Ros was a dedicated professional, but she was also witty, charming and could be thoughtful and entertaining. Although many of her friends had lost track of Ros in recent years, she will be sorely missed by her colleagues and her father, Jocylen, who is currently serving a forever sentence in a British prison. Ros died as she lives — in television reruns of Spooks on Netflix.
Ever since I learned to read, I’ve always had fictional friends. Not those “special” ones who tell you to kidnap the neighbour’s cat but real flesh-and-blood people who live their lives in a parallel universe to mine. One of my earliest recollections is asking my first grade teacher where Dick and Jane were running to. Miss What’s-her-name didn’t know and told me it wasn’t important. However, I knew it was. I knew those two crazy kids had horizons beyond Spot and the big blue ball, and one day they were going to get there. You see, I had an advantage: I had older sisters who had been reading their stories to me for some time. I’d already eavesdropped on the conversations of Meg, Jo and Beth and sat in on the adventures of Nancy Drew. Dick and Jane might have been as dull as Kraft Dinner™, even to a six-year-old, but I was nice to them because they were my introduction to the world’s greatest cocktail party.
There has always been much made of the fabulous world of books and how they can take you to places you’ve never been, etc. etc. That’s a nice cliché, and it probably works. But the party that is fiction is so much more than that because it’s populated by people we all want to meet. It doesn’t take too many chapters into Gone With The Wind before you want to have Rhett and Scarlett over for sushi; and once you’ve seen the movie, it’s a lock. Imagine a rainy evening playing Trivial Pursuit™ with Holmes and Moriarty or a picnic afternoon with Pan and Tinkerbell. There isn’t a heterosexual woman alive who hasn’t at least thought about Captain Jack Sparrow, and these days, Christian Grey is getting more than a few heavy looks.
The great thing about fictional friends is they never jerk you around. Maid Marian never gets on the phone for three hours, carping about how Robin is spending way too much time with the Merry Men. Or how the only things he ever wants to do is go camping or robbing the rich, or how he’s never there for her, or how being the King’s ward is not all it’s cracked up to be…if people only knew. And it goes on and on and on. No, Maid Marian never does that. She has some decorum — some class. Sure she has her problems – no doubt — but she handles them without the drama.
Likewise, James Bond never gets drunk and starts bitchin’ about how M and Tanner are idiots who couldn’t spy their way out of a wet paper bag. Nor does he lament his lot in life and threaten to “march in there Monday morning and tell them both to take this Licence to Kill and put it where the sun don’t shine.” That’s the last thing on Bond’s mind. He has a job to do, he loves it and he takes pride what he does.
Over the last half century, I’ve met a lot of people, and aside from maybe twenty or so, I have to admit that the ones I like best fall under the category of “any resemblance to persons either living or dead is purely coincidental.” My fictional friends never tire. They never whine. They never inadvertently hurt my feelings. They know when to show up, and they know when to shut up and go home. They share their lives with me and for the most part have no secrets — but I wish I knew them better. They’ve helped me through every difficulty I’ve ever faced and have never been too busy to be my companions.
I’m going to miss Ros. She was always a true friend, but I know that — no matter what — if I ever want to see her again, she’ll be there.