Recently I read Carly Simon’s memoir, Boys in the Trees. Ms Simon is, as her song lyrics would suggest, a sensitive and evocative writer, especially when remembering her childhood. In chapter two, we learn about Carly’s imaginative exploits with her cousin, Jeanie:
I sprawled alongside Jeanie on the grassy circle beneath the apple trees, engaging in make-believe conversations among the imaginary friends we had invented, including Mr Hicks, Meany and Bypress Fongton. The latter two made their home atop the pool-house weather vane, whereas Mr Hicks, lacking a permanent home, roamed between the orchard and the deep end of the pool, stirring up conflicts and making trouble for another of Jeanie’s imaginary friends, Ha Ha Ginsberg, a character who over time got to be so famous, for unknown reasons, that her name showed up in a New Yorker story. When her father gave her the news, I remember, Jeanie called upstairs, “Ha Ha, guess what, you were in The New Yorker!”
I’ve taken enormous liberties with Carly Simon’s childhood friends. I don’t know if Mr Hicks was really a duck in a bowler hat or Bypress Fongton a sharply-dressed toad in the style of the great German illustrator, Wolf Erlbruch. Careful readers among you will have noticed that I’ve changed the sex of Ha Ha Ginsberg altogether, but I couldn’t resist doing a caricature of the bearded beat poet. All I can say with absolute certainty is that Meany must have been a disgruntled cat…
Anyway, whether accurate or, as I suspect, not, drawing Carly Simon’s imaginary friends was enormous fun and my partner and I had a great time putting names to faces, so to speak. Do read Boys in the Trees – it’s well worth your time.