When Jakob was little, he “supposedly” had an imaginary friend named “Good”. I say “supposedly” cause I never met “Good”. And, to be honest, I never saw Jakob interacting with “Good”, either. That’s not to say I haven’t seen Jakob do some weird shit. That kid can take a string and a piece of dirt and play. I mean…play. For hours. Unlike Jethro, who if he happens to stand still for a second he’s bored.
Let’s face it, imaginary friends are CREEPY! Maybe horror movies have ruined the quaint notion of kids having imaginary friends. If Paranormal Activity 3, didn’t then man, nothing will! That was a sick ass movie. Well, that is until the end. The Paranormal Activity movies have this way of creeping me out for most of the picture, but the ending is so absurd/stupid, it ruins the scare factor of the whole movie.
Although I’ve never seen Jakob playing with Good, if you asked him how Good was, he would tell you. Good was usually fine. Jakob might answer another question about Good, but that was usually the end of it.
Then there’s “Shy”. I’m pretty sure, that if Good was “real”, Shy was not. In fact, I think Shy was totally made up by Natalia. She insists that she didn’t. But, just like lies that get repeated often enough, Shy seems to have become part of Jakob’s menagerie.
Then there’s the story of Brian, which is the reason why I brought us all here together…—
“So, what did you do in school today?” I asked Jakob, at dinner one night not too long ago.
“Nothing.” He replied, taking another bite of his taco. I know. I know. I know the old trick, you’re supposed to ask kids opened ended questions. Stupid kids make things so difficult. But, even still, Jakob manages to answer my open ended questions with one word answers. It’s his gift.
“I see.” I followed up, looking at the rest of the kids around the table. “You do a lot of nothing at school.”
“Yep.” He replied, thoughtfully munching away on his taco.
“Ok.” Time for a different tactic. “Who did you eat lunch with?”
He shrugged. “No one.”
“No one?” I asked incredulously. “You eat by yourself?”
“Yep.” Jakob replied, rather matter of factly.
“No you don’t!” Jethro accused from across the table. “I saw you eating with some kids the other day when I was going to gym.”
“So?” Jakob returned, a bit nonplussed.
“You don’t eat lunch by yourself.” Jethro continued. Their conversation across the ends of the table, getting a bit heated. I don’t know what it is with these two. They could be having a normal conversation and a split second later? They’re at each other’s throats.
“Yes. I do!”
Time to stop this before one of them lunges for the other. “Ok. Ok. Okokok!” I interrupted. “Jethro, mind your own business.” I said, before turning back to Jakob. “So, what’s one of your friend’s names?”
“I dunno.” Jakob shrugged.
I shit you not. This kid is as evasive as James Bond being tortured by the bad guys. “Is one of your friend’s names Mike?”
“Brian? How bout Brian?”
For whatever reason, Jakob paused for the briefest of moments. “No!”
“Are you sure?” I asked again, looking around the table, nodding. “I think it’s Brian.”
“No. Their names are Antonio.” He interrupted. “Both of them.” Jakob quickly followed up.
“Ok. So, how is Brian?” I asked, completely ignoring Jakob.
“Their names aren’t Brian. Their names are Antonio. Antonio S. and Antonio M.”
Now, was that so hard? Why does everything have to be so difficult? “So, what you’re saying is that you don’t have any friends named Brian?” Maybe that’s why things have to be difficult?
“Fine. Fine. Fine. Whatever. This is boring me.” I turned toward Sarah, who was completely absorbed in her own little world. “What did you do today, sweetheart?”
“So, Jakob.” I said, as we gathered around for dinner the next evening. “How’s Brian?”
“Brian’s not real.” Jakob replied, once again, with his classic “not giving a single fuck” tone.
“If Brian isn’t real, does that mean he’s an imaginary friend? Like Good and Shy?” Natalia perked up. If there’s teasing to be done, Natalia’s in for it.
“Good and Shy aren’t real.” Jakob replied. “Neither is Brian.”
“Right. They’re imaginary friends.” Natalia confirmed.
“No. They’re nothing.” Jakob corrected her.
“Right. They’re imaginary friends.” She repeated.
“Natalia! They’re not real!” Jakob replied, stabbing his fork into his hamburger hotburger (what we call Hamburger Helper in our house) with some thinly veiled hostility.
“Enough, Natalia. Enough.” I interrupted her.
“…I’m just saying….” Natalia said, feigning innocence.
“Oh. I know.” I nodded.
“…that if they’re not real…” She continued, pushing.
“…then they’re imaginary.”
“Natalia!” I yelled.
“Ok. Ok. Ok. “ Natalia smirked, satisfied she at least irritated someone.
I shook my head in complete helplessness. “Jakob.” I said, turning my attention back to the yellowhead. “How is Brian, anyway?”
The next day at dinner?
“So, Jakob…how’s Brian? You have lunch together today?”
“Brian’s not real, Fadder.”
“I’m gonna tell Brian you said that!” Natalia teased.
“I don’t care.” Jakob replied. “He’s not real.”
The day after that, at dinner?
Well, I think you get the picture…