When I was seven years old,
I had an imaginary friend called Wilbur
who taught me all I needed to know
about the world and my role in it.
Big stuff for a seven year old,
if you ask me. Blame Wilbur and
his ever-present sage wisdom
for filling my young mind with facts.
As an adult, of course, I think Wilbur
was probably a manifestation of something
within me or maybe my way of processing
my parent's advice into easily-digestible
seven-year-old sound bytes. I don't
know, I've never studied child psychology
or anything that might give me a clue as to
who Wilbur was. I'm a writer, not a whatever
those people are called who study kids.
But my point isn't kids. My point is Wilbur,
more specifically the time that Wilbur told
me to be careful on my bike when I was
riding too close to the cliff's edge on that
sunny summer day. I should have listened,
but I was too high on July and sugar to pay
attention to anything Wilbur had to say.
(This was 1997, so I'm sure there was
some sneaky Surge involved in the decision — I
looked up Surge on Wikipedia just now, that
mythical forbidden beverage of our childhood,
and I found out you can still buy it in Norway.
Cue mass millennial exodus to Oslo on the
next flight out.) And since I was too busy believing
I knew Everything There Is To Know About The World,
I didn't listen to Wilbur as I got close, too close,
to that cliff's edge. The sun beat down as I went
up, up, over, and landed with a crash in a patch
of poison ivy. One broken arm and a bottle of
calamine lotion later (acrid-smelling pink
goo in a blandly medicinal bottle that I still remember
my mother smearing across the left side of my
body), I learned to listen to Wilbur.