My non-imaginary friend


I never had an imaginary friend as a child because I had a non-imaginary friend that I could talk to anytime and anywhere, my very own self.


As I’ve grown older, my inner dialog has morphed into an outer dialog. I feel the need to tell myself out loud what I’m going to do next, just in case I have forgotten. “Okay, first I’ll make coffee and eat breakfast, read the news online, and then take a walk.”


I also enjoy asking myself questions, especially while driving. “Can you believe that idiot cut in front of me?” I’ll ask myself. After I respond with a few choice words, I commiserate with myself and respond, “You poor thing. It’s a curse to have the unsought-for gift of turning into an idiot magnet once you get behind the wheel of a car.” I talk to myself a lot in the car because idiots from around the state are compelled to get in their cars to drive the same roads I am on just to get a glimpse, a very close glimpse, of me.


Home is where I talk to myself the most. While cleaning the base of the toilet, I ask myself out loud, “Who in their right mind uses toilet anchor bolt covers that pop off and require superglue to attach? Why don’t they use screw-on caps?” I ask myself that question every time I wipe the base of the toilet, knock off those little plastic covers and watch them roll behind the toilet. Only someone who never cleans a toilet could design something like that.


On occasion I use the mirror to role-play another person who needs to be told off. I rehearse a brilliant conversation in which I use my incisive reasoning skills and devastating humor to reveal their stupidity, callousness, or delusion, leaving the person duly chastised and at a loss for words in the face of my wisdom and oratorical skills. Sometimes I wear sunglasses when I do this because my brilliance can be blinding.


Once I have given the person a piece of mind, I can walk away knowing that I saved another piece of my mind, which would otherwise have been lost. At my age, you need to hang onto every single piece you have. I’ve lost quite a bit of my mind over the years, so I know what I’m talking about. Or at least I think I do.


I even talk in public when I think I am alone. If I have already begun talking out loud and notice someone within earshot, I hum and mumble made-up words to a real or imaginary song, so the person who got shot in the ear with my self-talk will think I’m merely singing to myself. Most people feel cordial to those who sing to themselves in public, judging them to have pent-up musical talent that can’t be contained. People who talk to themselves in public, on the other hand, are more likely to have just one talent: being crazy. And they themselves need to be contained.


Frequently when I’m in conversation with myself in my head or out loud, I remind myself of funny things that have happened, so I start laughing. If people carry their ears within hearing range, I pretend that laughter is part of the song that I was singing, which is harder than you think.


My repertoire of songs that include laughter is limited to four from my youth. All appeared in the 1960s. The first one, Wipe Out by The Surfaris, is instrumental with just one word, the title. Humming, laughing, and shouting out “Wipe Out!” alarms most people, however, so I avoid that one. Another one I’m reluctant to use is They’re Coming to Take Me Away by Napoleon XIV because I think they really would. The Beatles recorded the last two that I remember: I Am the Walrus and Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. Both have that LSD-authored quality of the decade. No matter how smoothly I segue into any of these songs though, the people around me get that look of panic that movie characters get when they hear a door open in the abandoned house they’ve gone to investigate alone, with no weapon or phone, because they suspect a serial killer might be hiding there, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, in spite of an entire theater full of people yelling at them to turn back.


I understand. I’ve been there myself. Not in an abandoned house looking for a serial killer, but walking near a person who is chatting away in a robust voice, but with phone-free hands. I’ve been convinced and alarmed that the person was deep in a self-argument until I carefully circled around and noticed the person wearing one of those Bluetooth earpieces.


I’m not much of a phone-talker and have never wanted an earpiece, but I think I might need one. When you’re long in the tooth and have the habit of talking to yourself in an audible voice, it’s best to have at least one tooth that’s blue. Of course, I won’t connect the earpiece to my phone; I wouldn’t want anyone to call and interrupt my conversations with myself.


Painting from Sally Ann  
Anchor bolt cover from Lowes
Bluetooth earpiece from Wikimedia



29 thoughts on “My non-imaginary friend

  1. You know sometimes you just need some interesting conversation and who better than yourself. I have considered getting a Bluetooth (why do they call it that?) just for that reason. My fav is singing in the car. It’s not the singing so much as the choreography that goes along with it that stuns (and frightens) most people.

  2. Ah, yes, the best conversations are often held in the car by oneself. It might be helpful to tape the conversations somehow, so all that wisdom and insight are not lost to the world.

  3. A.PROMPTreply

    Nothing wrong with being your own best friend. Hah. Besides, where else can you go and talk and know you’ll get the answers you want! 🙂

  4. When my daughter was little and had a toy that was
    a plastic dashboard with a moving steering wheel, my husband got to hear some of the things that I said when I was driving, and not to myself either, or to my little girl.
    “It was MY turn, you idiot. Have you ever heard of right of
    way?” If you heard this in the sweet high voice of a three year
    old child, you’d really see the humor. But, listening to her at play, my husband said to me,
    “Boy, you really take it hard when someone jumps the gun
    on you.”

  5. I can completely commiserate with you about all those lengthy conversations, except that lately, mine haven’t even been making it from that gray fuzzy space in my pequeno cerebro all to way to my outside voice. Nope. Most of my conversations with myself all take place inside my head. At least I don’t have to worry about the blue tooth to feign legitimate conversation, as I’m not fooling anyone, least of all, myself. Being touched is not nearly as much fun as it might sound, but the good news is that I usually win most of the arguments. Well, usually. Except when I don’t.

    When I lose an argument with myself, occasionally the words finally explode out of my mouth, letting loose a colorful stream of syllables that require a decoder ring to understand. My poor dogs raise their eyebrows and tilt their heads in confusion, not quite sure what to make of it. Which is usually about the time I realize the words ended up on the outside of my head.

    Rather than humming a tune or pretending to be talking on an imaginary phone to cover up the verbal spillage, I usually recover from my conversational faux pas by uttering the completely believable phrase, “It’s on TV”, which is my way of telling them to ignore everything they’ve just heard. Because everyone knows you shouldn’t pay attention to anything you’ve heard on TV, right? Especially when it’s not even turned on, making it that much harder to hear every word.

    Always a delightful pleasure to see you. Or perhaps I should have said “hear from you”. Sorry to interrupt the conversation. Please do carry on. And on and on and on. 🙂

    • At some point during those inside conversations, we all need to use our outside voice. I love your explanation to your dogs, and would like to use it. I will try it on my fish.

  6. I often mutter to myself while I am driving. I hope if anyone notices that they think I am having a conversation on a hands free phone. You have a talent for witty self talk and for writing. 😉

  7. It’s good to keep props around… to confuse the curious… Fortunately, they can also provide interesting photographs, if you let your imagination wander.

  8. Oh, so it’s not just me then? I even make up names for the other drivers, “there’s only one shade of green on that traffic light Tinkerbelle” comes immediately to mind (not much else does though), and “C’mon Jose I don’t have all day,” (only because it rhymes and.. there are a lot of Latinos around here.) lol

  9. Margie

    When my young grand daughter was learning to talk, her first sentence to me was: “You talkin’ to me?” And, I wasn’t. So, I totally appreciate this post.

  10. Glad I discovered this. I laughed extra hard because I identify. When we were kids, my sister loved to hide and listen to me for a while and then laugh until I tried to knock off her head. Never did get it done.

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