Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Fictional Fairy Tale
Jennifer Flaten

I think I’ve mentioned once, maybe more than once, that I am an only child. I grew up deep in the Northwood of Wisconsin, where the Hodag roam and deer-hunting season is an acceptable reason to miss a week of school.

Although my great-grandparents did their best to raise me, well, I always had the feeling this wasn’t how they expected to spend their golden years, looking after a rather rambunctious child.

My mother, Betty, brought me to live with them after her marriage fell apart. She’d struggled as a single mom for a couple of years and felt it was in everyone’s best interest if she left me up north for a few years.

A few years turned into twelve. When I was very young, my mother visited often, making the long trek, from Milwaukee, at least once a month. As I got older, those trips dwindled down to once every couple of months.

My great-grandparents had very little to say about my dad or, if they did have something to say about him, it was usually in fierce whispers behind closed doors. I really didn’t pay much attention to them I was too busy watching the A-team and imagining that someday I would grow up to be Hannibal and lead a pack of crazy for hire mercenaries.

I can guarantee I am the only woman in the whole world, who at age twelve ran around saying, “I love it when a plan comes together,” and pretending to smoke a cigar. If it isn’t obvious, I spent a lot of time alone as a child.

I was alone, a great deal, mostly, because the closest kid my age lived about two miles away, also because the only games I knew how to play were Yahtzee and Hearts. I place the blame for my lack of board game skills squarely on my great-grandmother. Instead of teaching me how to play Monopoly, she insisted I fill for any absent guests during her weekly card party.

For the record, I blame my fondness for television shows, such as “Dallas” and “Falcon Crest,” on my great-grandparents, too. On the plus side, I can scale and filet a fish like nobody’s business, as my great grandpa was an avid angler.

I did have one girlfriend, Lisa. She was the only girl within ten square miles. It was only natural that we would play together a lot. It also was only natural that we would fight a lot. Many play dates ended with one of us taking our ball and going home.

We could go weeks without speaking to each other. Luckily, I had very rich imagination. I know you are so surprised. On the days when Lisa and I weren’t speaking, I often pretended I had a sibling. Yes, that is different from having an invisible friend.

I decided I had an older brother. I sketched in a back-story that would explain why he didn’t live with me. He was about 13 years older than I was and when my parents divorced, he went off with our dad. Taking a page from my favourite primetime soaps, I determined I was born shortly after the divorce and he never knew of my existence.

For my season finale, I had my brother finally learning of my existence and driving in his very awesome sports car to rescue me from my so-called Mayberry life.

Sadly, that never happened; no network, there were only three then, picked up my television show pilot. Life went on. Eventually, Betty invited me to live in the big city with her. Hey, Milwaukee is a big city compared to Tomahawk.

I did the usual stuff, school, marriage, the herd of animals and kids. I nearly forgot about my brother. Amazingly a few weeks ago, I was reading a column by Matt Seinberg, on GrubStreet.ca, and I thought, “This guy seems familiar.”

In a cliffhanger sure to upstage “Who shot JR,” I think Matt Seinberg may be my long lost imaginery brother.

See for yourself, click here to read a column by Matt Seinberg

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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