Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ivy Twists

I'M BACK! I didn't mean to be gone so long, but extracurricular activities topped with an arm pain flare-up kind of effed me up for a while. You don't even want to KNOW how many unread items I have in Google Reader. But enough of the excuses! Let's hit the proverbial road and learn more about the 5th grade residents of Friendship, NY.

If Friendship were a TV show, this one might qualify as a Very Special Episode. Unintentionally. Now I'm not really up on the latest version of the DSM, but it doesn't take a psychiatrist to figure out that young Ivy Swanson is maaaaaaybe teetering on the edge of dissociative identity disorder (or, in 1989 parlance, MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER) here. Seriously, guys. There are imaginary friends and then there's.... THIS.


dear jo,

i wish you didn't have to move. you're my best friend i mean life isn't fair. i wish your parents would go to you know where. [Whoa! I think she might mean H-E-double hockey sticks!] no offense, jo. i mean well it's not their fault i'm just mad about the whole thing really. this isn't the right thing to do. promise you'll never get another best friend, ok. well see you soon. i will. i will see you. bye for now.

Your Very Best Friend,


God, I was really a huge fan of unnecessary punctuation, wasn't I?

I put the letter to Jo in my basket. I keep all my special stuff in my basket.

I also had a "special place" where I kept top-secret items—except instead of a basket it was a purple tin featuring a jazzy saxophone [please pause for a moment and try to imagine that in all of its 1989 glory], and it was EXTRA special because it had once been filled with chocolate-covered pretzels instead of secrets! Yum!

I don't really have a best friend named Jo but I wish I did.

Here's where The Crazy starts.

I don't even have a best friend. But I keep on dreaming. Jo is an old dream. When I was little she was my imaginary friend.

Now, I'd like to state for the record that there's nothing inherently wrong with imaginary friends. In fact, they're generally very healthy. I even had one myself when I was in preschool. His name was Jonka, and he lived in my basement with his wife and their 500 children. (300 were girls, and 200 were boys. Because girls are better.) Oh, and also, he looked like Ziggy.

Jonka! My old (imaginary) friend!

The problem is that Ivy takes it to a Whole New Level—a level that involves keeping a diary about your fake friend's many adventures. Actually, I wonder what Jonka's diary would have been like...
Hung out next to the washing machine with my 500 kids. AGAIN. Really need to talk to the wife about birth control. The 4-year-old came down and talked to me for two minutes. No one else seems to realize I'm here. CHRIST, what I wouldn't do to get out of this fucking basement.
Jo helped me through kindergarten, but in first grade Jo stopped coming to school. I started writing stories about my best friend, Jo Ann. Jo was so real to me. She still is. I know just what she looks like. She has red hair that's usually up in a ponytail and she has brown eyes that look like melted chocolate.

Uh, why am I comparing organs to foodstuffs? I point the finger of blame squarely at Ann M. Martin. Damn Claudia Kishi and her damn almond-shaped eyes...

Jo's birthday is on July 5th 1977 and right now she's almost 10 and she's in fourth grade just like me except she started early. The summer after first grade, Jo began to keep a diary. The diary was all about Jo's life and her friends. She went to my school and she was very popular.

So Ivy has an imaginary friend who lives a parallel—but much cooler—life? Jo is rapidly becoming this story's younger, less bloody Tyler Durden.

Jo has a mother and a father and a big sister named Lindsay. I stopped calling Jo a dream. To me she wasn't a dream. She was real in my eyes.

What do you think those eyes look like? A pair of green M&Ms maybe?

I began calling everything about Jo "twists". It was something new and Jo was so lively and so much fun that the word seemed to fit her.

Lively AND fun!

But now I am starting to think Jo is a little babyish. So I made her move away. Jo moved away to Florida yesterday. Her dad is a photographer and he moved the whole family down there because that's where he's working down in Florida on another assignment. I wish I could make Jo move back, but twists are something I can't change no matter what.

The first rule of twists is that you can't talk about twists. The second rule of twists is that you can't talk about twists. The third rule is that twists can't be changed. The fourth rule is that if things are getting a touch babyish, you can ship your alter ego off to Florida on a photo assignment. A PERMANENT assignment.

Learn at your own risk! Apparently there's no going back.

So this is what the letter at the beginning referred to, when Ivy wished to damn Jo's (made-up!) parents to the depths of hell and then made her promise she'd never get another best friend. Even though she's, y'know, NOT REAL. Because that's not babyish at all.

And you wouldn't believe what Jo wrote in her diary today!

You know what else isn't babyish? Continuing to write in your pretend friend's diary!

Here's what it said:

Dear Diary.

I can't believe we moved. Mom and Dad never tell me and Lindsay anything! And already I miss Ivy. New York is so far away! But today I met this girl named Alora and she is very nice. Alora is such a pretty name. I think Alora and I are going to be good friends. VERY good friends. [AHEM.] And my kitten, Mouse loves the new house. So do I! My new room is the best. The kids at school are real nice and already I'm a hit! Maybe things aren't as bad as I thought!


The 1 & The Only,

Jo Ann Maureen Memphis

And then there's a drawing of her prettily named (but equally fictitious) ladyfriend:

Nice barrettes. Too bad they're not real.

This one definitely ended prematurely. I really wanted to see Ivy get jealous about the relationship between two entirely fabricated persons. You KNOW she was about to lose her shit. I imagine it would have been like an elementary school version of that made-for-TV movie where Nancy McKeon all of a sudden becomes schizophrenic. Because that? Was awesome.

NEXT TIME: While we're on a roll with the Very Special, how about a kidnapping book? Or, more accurately, a book that's SUPPOSED to be about kidnapping, but never really gets there?


Kathryn said...

Your imaginary friend? Awesome. I, unfortunately, never had an imaginary friend, though I had several imaginary pets, because my parents wouldn't let me have a dog.

carey said...

oh. my. god. i love this. i want it to keep going and get all lois duncan, with jo actually coming to life and finding ivy and trying to kill her. maybe that's just me, tho.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

It is in no way just you.

I love love love this blog always, but this was unusually awesome. "When I was little she was my imaginary friend." That is an ingenious use of the past tense to highlight the totally crazy.

Cory said...

Oh, man, this story had so much potential. I was waiting for Ivy to go crazy and start killing people or something. Sigh...now we'll never know what happened when she finally snapped.

Brittany said...

Not gonna lie, I want to read more of Jonka's diary.