Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Imaginary Family

Me and my friends often play a game. We call it The Imaginary Family, and the object is to search through every film or TV program you've ever watched, and find amongst them new parents, new brothers and sisters, new grandparents. Hell, we've gone further than that. We've named new Uncles for ourselves - usually bad ones.

You know, like that one Uncle you've got that everyone kind of hates and gets creeped out by. He probably got caught doing something weird like masturbating into a banana skin while watching Dumbo at the pound theatre, at some point, and you always sigh when he turns up to your imaginary family reunion.

My bad Uncle is usually Peewee Herman. But you can go less obvious with your bad Uncle. Maybe someone like Steve Guttenberg would do, because he seems all smiley and nice but you know he's likely having sex with fish when nobody's looking.

Though the beauty of the game has nothing to do with fish or Steve Guttenberg. No, the beauty of the game is that you get to invent a whole new life for yourself - which is kind of sad, when you really think about it.

And it's even sadder when you realise that actually, things would have probably turned out better for you if John Candy had really been your Dad.

I mean, can you imagine? I've never seen a film of his where he wasn't inutterably lovely. Where he didn't do all the things you always secretly longed for your Dad to do, like maybe not descend into alcoholism and disappear when you were seven.

John Candy never does anything like that in any of his movies. Instead he does fun, amazeballs things, like eating giant steaks and making giant pancakes. Oh, the times I've longed for a Dad who one day randomly makes me giant pancakes!

But not just a Dad who does things for me, oh no. A Dad who is weird like me. That's why I like John Candy the most, for my imaginary Father. Because in every movie he's in he's always just a little bit weird, just a little bit of an outsider. He messes up. He gets things wrong. He gives speeches where he says things like I like me - usually because no-one else does.

But I like him. Because he's loud and strange and not afraid to be himself, and there are times when I have sorely needed all of those things. I've needed someone who would say to me that it's okay, to be the person I am.

So here's to my imaginary Father. The one who really sustained me, when I was lost. Who made me smile, when I was sad. He may not be the actual John Candy, but he's with me anyway. I made him up, and no-one can ever take away something you made up.

Happy Father's day, my imagination.


  1. John Candy would have read your books and loved them too. (In Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, when you first see him, he's reading The Canadian Mounted.)

  2. Hi, Charlotte,

    I've always thought John Candy was sweet to the very core.

    Have you seen the movie Kick Ass? I love the part played by Nicholas Cage. Now there's a dad!

  3. I can completely understand your enchantment with John Candy! I have found him lovable in everything I've seen him in too. :)

    Happy (belated) Father's Day to your imagination indeed.


  4. Oh, it's hard not to love John Candy.

  5. Kathleen- You know, I never thought of that! He really IS my imaginary Dad! Proud, and everything. Orsum.

    Lisabet- also an excellent imaginary dad. You've got the hang of this thing!

    Emerald- Inorite? My imaginary dad is amazing. And my imagination thanks you, for the good wishes!

    Kristina- he does make it really, really easy.


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