Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – December 29, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – December 29, 2004 – I was three years old when I chopped my long dark hair off. My father’s barber trimmed what was left of it into a very short pixie cut. It was also the year I wore my chocolate brown, velvet snow suit for one hour every day. I think I was a fairly typical kid – full of beans and imagination. Like many children I had an imaginary friend whose name was Goozo. She came in handy because I blamed Goozo for all the naughty things I did.
My parents moved into our family home when I was about a year old, and by the time I was three the main floor was finished but parts of the second floor were still under construction. The bathroom and the four bedrooms had doors and hardwood floors but two walls in my bedroom remained open to the studding. The ceiling had been finished with gyprock – the equivalent of today’s drywall, except it was green. The light fixture was in place, but my closet was unfinished.
If I put my head in between the studs and shone my father’s flashlight in the opening, I could see down to the bottom of the finished walls on the main floor. It was an ideal place to drop things, and very exciting to listen as they tumbled down between the walls to the floor below. A wonderful opportunity for mischief and a temptation not to be missed.
I started with little items like my brother Mike’s red, white and blue rubber ball. It disappeared with a satisfying thunk, a soft rebound bounce and then quiet. That was fun. Mike asked Mommie is she had seen his ball. She hadn’t – neither had Daddy. Goozo knew where it was but she didn’t tell. Rosemary offered her ball to her brother – what a nice sister! The next week, my mother’s knitting needles disappeared followed by my father’s green flashlight. Goozo giggled but said nothing. The next thing to disappear from the house was a set of my mother’s good silver tea spoons. They were tied up securely in a soft cloth spoon keeper. Unfortunately when Goozo dropped them down the wall she neglected to toss the cloth after them.
Rosemary was busted, caught red-handed with the evidence under her pillow. My mother sat down on the bed and said, “Rosemary, what happened to the teaspoons?” I was three years old and guilty as sin”. I blurted out, “Mommie – “Goozo did it. See, right here. She dropped all the spoons, Mike’s rubber ball, your knitting needles and Daddy’s big green flashlight down the wall”. I showed my mother where my bad friend had done her dastardly deeds. My mother asked me where Goozo was and I replied, “Can’t you see her Mommie, she’s sitting right beside me on the bed”. My mother said, “What does Goozo look like dear”? I gave Goozo up in a second. “She looks just like me Mommie”. My mother then said, “Perhaps you can tell Goozo not to drop anything more down the wall”. “Okay”, I said, “I promise”.
My mother and father talked about the logic of removing the kitchen wall to retrieve the items in question, but decided against it, citing the time and cost involved. You would think that Goozo, having been let off with a warning, would have retired from her life of thievery. Such was not the case. Before her career ended, my mother’s silver knives and forks followed the spoons down the wall. Once again I blamed Goozo, but this time to no avail. I received a monumental spanking. That made Goozo really mad and she drew all over the walls in my brother Eric’s room. I’d never admit to my wrongdoing and continued to blame my little invisible friend for my naughty exploits.
I think my mother realized that she had a problem on her hands. She sat down with me on a sunny day in the sandbox in our back yard and asked me about Goozo. “She’s my friend”, I said, “And she plays with my when Eric and Mike won’t because I’m too little”. My mother then asked me if I was unhappy. I admitted that I thought maybe she and Daddy didn’t love me as much as they did Eric and Mike. She wanted to know why I thought that, and I said, “Because Eric and Mike said that my room was never going to be finished because I was just a crybaby girl who would never have any friends”.
My mother hugged me and reassured me that I was loved very much and that she would have a chat with my brothers. We went back into the house and she made me a sandwich for lunch, with cookies as a treat, then went off to find my brothers, aged four and six. They got into some serious trouble with my parents. They proclaimed their innocence as they had every right to, because I’d made up the entire story. When this came to light, I naturally blamed Goozo.
This time Goozo-bashing just didn’t wash. I had to apologize to my brothers and was sent to my room with no dinner. There was no spanking. In its place was a little chat about how disappointed my mother and father were in my unkind behaviour, and that lying was dishonest and hurtful to other people. I remember feeling ashamed of myself. I knew I’d been really bad, that I’d told lies about my brothers, and that Goozo wasn’t to blame.
Nonetheless I wasn’t ready just yet to say farewell to my little invisible friend. I played with her for most of the summer. The walls in my room were finished, so Goozo was no longer tempted to engage in high jinks. By the fall Eric was in school full time, Mike attended kindergarten in the mornings and I had my mother to myself for half the day. One morning I was playing in the sandbox. My mother was standing in the kitchen window watching me as she did the breakfast dishes. She told me that I was jabbering away to myself when all of a sudden I stood up, and started to jump up and down wildly in the sandbox. I then fell to my knees and started to punch the sand, before gleefully throwing great fistfuls of it up in th air, only to watch it rain back down to the ground.
I then ran into the house and delivered this memorable line to my mother, “Mommie, Mommie – I’ve wrecked Goozo all to part and God gave her a brand new spirit and now she’s my dear little cousin Frances”. I wasn’t ready to surrender Goozo completely. Frances is my middle name. I think the message, unbeknownst to me at the time, was that the shenanigans I perpetrated as Goozo were at a end, but it was okay for a little bit of Goozo to endure as my imaginary cousin Frances.
Children are perceptive far beyond their years, and often speak about little friends that “no one else can see”. There is probably a message here that parents should never dismiss. When I invented Goozo, I may have been feeling sad, lonely angry or just plain mischievous. My parents handled Goozo’s appearance the right way. They didn’t deny her existence or berate me for having her as a friend. They were concerned and interested, but they also knew when to hold me accountable for the bad behaviour of my supposed “imaginary friend”, even though I was only three at the time.
In the end, the “reign of Goozo” was short-lived. I played with my real, little friends who lived alongside the highway near my childhood home. I became a reasonably well-adjusted kid, a typical teenager and ultimately a responsible adult. I have no idea where the name Goozo came from, but I recall that I loved the sound of it when I‘d ecstatically announce, “Goozo did it, Mommie”.
I sometimes wonder if a small treasure awaits the person who takes down the kitchen wall in my former family home. I’m sure anyone finding these items would shake their heads and wonder why a rubber ball, a green flashlight , a pair of knitting needles and sets of eight sterling silver knives, forks and spoons had been hidden behind the kitchen wall. If it’s true that my father never bothered to dismantle that part of the kitchen to retrieve those items, then they will still be there – entombed.
Somehow I think that he probably did, because I’m sure I recall him giving a service for eight of silverware to Eric and Dorothy. But who knows, maybe that was the replacement set. If I was to track Goozo down and ask her, I’m sure she’d prefer to think that her devilish handiwork remained undisturbed.
A remembrance of another time, when as an imaginary friend, origins unknown, her influence temporarily held sway in a country home in small town Ontario. Come to think of it, I hope those items are still there, and that the spirit of Goozo, wherever she resides, is still impish!