It’s apparently common for children to have imaginary friends, and I recall thinking my doll Koos-Koos 1the Cabbage Patch Doll company put out a line of dolls for boys called “Koosas”, and mine was named Lyon, but apparently I only ever … Continue reading could hear me, but up until around 11 years old, I also had an entire imaginary family. They were the Dude family. To be a little more clear – it was actually just me who was the entirety of the Dude family.
(this whole story is making me sweat with embarrassment cause I’ve never talked about this before, but here we go)
The Dude family consisted of 4 brothers : Rad Dude, Awesome Dude, Cool Dude, and Killer Dude, and their mother – Mama Dude. The “leader” of the Dude brothers was Rad Dude. You might think it’s Awesome Dude, but he was 2nd in command – damn good at a lot of things, but never out to steal the spotlight from his older brother, Rad. Cool Dude was chill and diplomatic. Killer was a headcase (hence the name) who was probably the least talented of The Dudes, and very aggressive. When I played videogames by myself on my Commodore 64, I would talk to myself as the various Dude brothers. When I did well, it was often as Rad Dude. If I fucked up, I’d act like I was actually just Killer Dude who was pretending to be Rad Dude.
I’d go in my backyard and pitch baseballs up into the air to hit, and I tried harder when I said aloud “….next at bat is Rad Dude”. Rad Dude hit a lot of over-the-backyard-wall homers. Killer Dude struckout a lot and would kick walls and punch trees. It was an opportunity for me to let out aggression, and mentally tell myself “no, no, I’m playing the part of Killer Dude”. Sometimes, I’d have entire discussions amongst the Dude brothers. Killer Dude was occasionally jealous of Rad Dude’s success, but Cool Dude kept the peace and Awesome Dude would occasionally pick up the slack (the batting order always had Awesome Dude going after Killer Dude).
When I played with my various toys, I’d setup scenarios where the toys were actually The Dudes in disguise – like they were all playing parts. I’d setup little courses and attempt “tricks” – like trying to catapult Michelangelo (TMNT) over a series of obstacles and into a laundry basket. But, it was really just Rad Dude playing the role of Michelangelo. Killer Dude was, of course, Raphael.
No one ever “met” the Dude family, I never spoke of them or about them to anyone, and they never came out to play with my friends and I never mentioned them to my parents or sister. I’m not sure if I thought they’d consider me insane, or if they just only existed to me in certain contexts. It was probably the latter.
Having.. err.. being this made-up family consisting of 4 pretty kickass dudes (and literally Dudes) made me feel pretty alright. When I was having a shitty day, I’d sometimes pretend I was really just living the day as Killer Dude, and if I had enough alone time for it I’d have Awesome Dude give him a pep talk. When I was having a particularly awesome day – like maybe I played a great little league game earlier that night – I’d high-five myself 4 times (once for each of the Dude brothers) and, based on how well I did, would give a speech as one of The Dudes (again, usually Rad Dude) to the other Dudes, who would be only too supportive.
Around the time I was 11 years old, my family was moving from our 3-bedroom house near my favorite park (Roadrunner Park) to a 3-bedroom apartment (mentioned heavily in the Origin Story series). My father had left the year prior, and I’m guessing it wasn’t financially feasible to keep living in that house. For about 4 months prior to us actually leaving the house, I had my whole room packed up into my closet. The only thing left was my desk (with my Commodore 64), a separate writing desk, my bed, and my walkman. I’d sit on top of the writing desk (just a plank of wood atop two metal filing cabinets) listening to Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning” album and staring out the window. That period of time was the beginning of the end of The Dude family. They, too, had suffered a divorce – though long before I had, as that was part of some weird origin story I came up with while my parents were still together.
The last throes of The Dude family came the afternoon prior to leaving for our new home. There was a breaking of the 4th wall, as The Dude family said that I was all of them – and that I never needed to split them up, as they were one, and so are we all. There was a feeling that I was actually losing my close friends for a moment there, but I realized how insane that sounded and went outside to hit baseballs one last time in that backyard.
This time, however, every at-bat was as Mitch. I had to accept my strikeouts, and appreciate my homeruns, as a single unit and without excessive blame or celebration. There would be no more elaborate character swaps, just me with my flaws and my strengths, for better or worse.