Sunday, July 04, 2004

IF one

When Chris was in the Fifth Grade, at a private Catholic school in Chicago, he and a group of friends were the center of controversy for about a week or so when they created a new deity to worship. They called Him the Gutamagata Guy (GOO-ta-ma-GA-ta) and lines were drawn on the playground and in the hallways. What the Gutamagata Guy could do and why he should be worshipped weren't the point, only that Chris and his friends did and the others didn't.

"It was just a bunch of Fifth Graders ranting about how they were gonna worship a new guy (as opposed to that old guy . . . god) and were we with them or against them," he said. After the controversy died down, so did the Gutamagata Guy. Until I asked Chris if he remembered having any imaginary friends. Before telling me the truth, Chris told me something else.

"I called him the Gutamagata Guy. I was probably seven or eight, and he didn't last all that long. I used to pretend I was carrying him on my shoulders when I walked around in the woods behind my house, and I used to get mad at him because a) he had an ice cream cone most of the time and I didn't, and b) his cone kept dripping on my head. So I'd put him down, and he'd sneak back up there again. Fucked up."

But Chris came clean immediately and told me the truth, that the Gutamagata Guy had been made up later, by friends at school. He told me he wished he'd had a proper imaginary friend when he was a kid, or what he supposed was a proper imaginary friend, and he used the opportunity of my asking him about to dream one up. He named him after the demigod collectively imagined by his class. "The memory lasts, mostly because I really like saying 'Gutamagata Guy.'" And he has a point, it is really fun. You should try it.

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