This is Ch. 1 of a book based completely off the Calvin & Hobbes comics. More to come!
|Imagination is a wonderful thing. Take it from someone who knows. Grown-ups once knew this, but most of them have forgotten; and those who do remember use it for little more than entertainment and money-making, taking advantage of those who have none of their own. It is because of this, that childhood is a most precious commodity. To children, that is. Childhood, to adults, is seen as wasted time. Not the childhood that comes from ages 0-12, but the childhood that is fun and play and freedom from all responsibility. The childhood that is worlds of imagination, of joy and exuberance in the knowledge that the world is yours to conquer, yours to do with, whatever your heart's desires. Grown-ups do not understand this. They see childhood as a transitional phase, a time of preparation for boring adulthood. They try, oh how they try, to weigh us down with responsibility and ugly, worldly issues, with history and school, with character and hard work and learning. But that's not what childhood is about. It's about fun. It's about freedom from all those frustrating issues the rest of the world deals with in their everyday lives. It's about stretching the limits of your imagination and breaking, no, shattering reality, and all conceived notions of it. It's about seizing the day and throttling it, about squeezing every last drop of danger and adventure out of the precious time you have. It's the sound of a new song, the exuberance of running without tiring, the smell of trees in a forest untouched by man, the feeling of happiness and contentment that comes from knowing the world is yours. Grown-ups are always constantly striving for perfection, and claim to strive for unattainable dreams, then despairing as they "realize" they can never have them. They're wrong. If a grown-up can't do something, they will tell you that you can't do it. Don't listen to them. The only limits you are bound by are in your imagination. I should know. I've explored galaxies, oceans, smashed cities in a single step, solved murder cases, leapt tall buildings in a single bound, and conquered fearsome aliens, gangsters, and supervillains alike; and I'm only six. Grown-ups refuse to understand this, or even comprehend it. They, in their ignorance, will always try to stop us, to put limits on our fun, on our imagination and childhood. Bedtimes, chores, school, consequences and rules, character, the so called "laws" of reality. None of them really work. There's a reason we call them "uh-DOLTS," after all.
* * *
My name is Calvin Watterson, and I cherish imagination and childhood in ways and amounts that no adult, grown-up, parent or otherwise, will ever understand. My greatest fear is that someday I will grow up to be like them; cold, heartless, devoid of creativity, freedom, and imagination, the pillars and keystones of a truly magical childhood. Fortunately, I have my best friend Hobbes to keep me young and sane, and to help drive my parents insane. He's the best friend a six-year-old could ask for. It feels like we've known each other forever, but we haven't really. We met not all that long ago...
* * *
"So long, Pop! I'm off to check my tiger trap!" The year was 1986. I wore a red-and-black striped shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and a safari pith helmet over my messy, spiky, yellow hair that was the bane of my mother's existence. I had just turned six, and I decided to test my expertise in trap-making by capturing a real, live tiger. I eagerly explained the mechanics and baiting mechanism of the trap to a bored Dad, who was buffing the family car, an 80s station wagon nearly as old as I was. "I rigged a tuna fish sandwich yesterday, so I'm sure to have a tiger by now!" Dad stopped buffing the car for a moment to give me one of his "yeah, right" looks. "They like tuna fish, huh?" he asked skeptically. Undeterred, I continued to bounce up and down with my usual enthusiasm. "Come on, I'll show you! We ran, or rather, I ran and Dad took his usual long, lazy strides, over to the edge of the forest where I had previously set up my trap. "Tigers will do anything for a tuna fish sandwich!" I shouted back at Dad, who, despite his long strides, was still a fair distance away. I stopped at the trap. A lone tiger hung upside down from a tree by a rope, thoughtfully munching on a sandwich. Having heard parts of my earlier conversation, he paused eating to comment, "We're kind of stupid that way."
* * *
Dad finally arrived at the tiger trap. Instead of the sizable Bengal tiger eating a tuna fish sandwich, he saw only a worn, old stuffed tiger and a half-eaten sandwich up in a tree. He gave a small laugh at the sight. "Nice try, Calvin.' He walked back to the house, presumably to finish buffing car.
* * *
It took me a while to figure it out, but my parents don't see reality the way I do. No adult I've met so far does; and sadly, many kids I know are the same. They have chosen to accept reality as unchanging, concrete, and unalterable. But I know the truth. The laws of physics need not apply. Reality can be molded to one's desires. It is, in reality, the grown-ups themselves who are so stubborn and unchanging, concrete and unalterable; and what's more, they refuse to accept what little they can see! They have such a narrow worldview, and if anything happens to question it, they refuse to believe it. I caught a real tiger that day, but Dad's reality conflicted with my own, that is, the real world; and his brain rationalized the experience to little more than a child's whimsy and foolish imaginations, wasting his time. It was only a stuffed animal. In case you haven't guessed, that was Hobbes. Yeah, he's a tiger. But he's also my best friend, and he'll bite your head off if you say otherwise. I will say this now, just to clear up the confusion: Hobbes was never a stuffed animal. That's just how grown-ups, adults, and even some children perceive him. How does he walk and talk? I don't know. I've never asked. Maybe he's magic. But Hobbes was the tiger I caught that day. I didn't know it at the time, but he and I would have the best of adventures, and become the best of friends. Aside from the occasional disagreement, of course.