My grandson, Jackson, aka Jack, who, like all typical seven year olds has a fertile imagination; a virtual airport that entreats fantasies, which are not shackled to the reality of the basic laws of science—essentially, a free passport to air castles.
The mere mention of castles, stone fortified mansions, residence of reigning regality, armored Knights and shadow casting, soaring scale-clade, fire breathing mythical dragons, immediately catapults you back to the medieval era of 5th and 6th century, where legendary King Arthur and Merlin the Sorcerer extraordinaire, the keeper of roiling, bubbling cauldrons of ameliorative medicinals laid folklore footprints.
Ensconced in this antediluvian realm is where the zygote of my grandson’s fantasies gestated to term with the caveat, Jack has an accomplice, Tiggie’, a Yorkshire Terrier size, stuffed, tan lion—yes I know, there is a species discrepancy in the big cats, but reality lines are blurred and for all intentional purposes banned, soooo, continuing, Tiggie’ is Jack’s whisperer for all things mythical; unbeknownst to myself, also a renown savant in dragonology.
Jack and his anthropomorphic lion confidant catalyzed a reverie of a 1960s cartoon series of Sherman and Mr Peabody, where Mr. Peabody was a bow tie don beagle who adopted a 7 year old human son, Sherman. This up right ambulating, be-speckled canine, a cerebral polymath invented a time machine called WABAC, which is an acronym for way-back. The dog boy relationship assumes a professorial don to student bond; wherein, the promulgation of historical academics is achieved by witnessing past events in real time. Please excuse the tangential musing, but the coincident of 7 years old boys’ animal whisperers of cartoon and stuffed animal, were literary ambrosia—couldn’t, wouldn’t pass it up with a walk around, or step-over; to tantalizing to omit.
A canceled school day due to inclement weather; icy roads born of rain and below freezing temperatures, triggered an epidemic parental agitated panic pacing because the taxi dependent children of the colloquial banana colored buses were thwarted. This engendered the emotional dam cracking and spewing of high pressure consternation: “I have to go to work”, the pensive parent snap, and “where are the munchkins going to hang”—well, that’s my cue, the retired grandpa and the serendipitous invitation into my grandson’s gossamer veiled fantasies, where good and bad dragons reside and reign.
The early morning ringing of a phone engenders an autonomous GI titration of gastric acidic juices and fleeting, disjointed thoughts of most parents–even grandparents, of what might have gone wrong with the kids. You answer the phone with trepidation; it’s Melissa with a soft inquiry and plea, “am I free and would I be amendable to hanging with Jack”, aka, the cleverly imaginative one, who is counseled and spurred to cognitive flights of fantasy by the celebrated, sagacious Tiggie.
Jack arrived accompanied with all the accouterments of a street panhandler; different bags of sorts swaying and dangling from his core frame as if to take on the mission of extra body limbs. One specific bag was the imaginative gateway, whose contents were the fairy dust of fantasy, the ingredient key to the realm of dragons, lots and lots of dragons. Opening the attache revealed a brigade of army men figurines and a large, in comparison to the figurines, black dragon; pigmentation is taxonomically significant in dragonology. Naturally, time tested confidant and Wisperer, Tiggie was contiguously close in an affectionate head lock.
Once, all the epiphytic accouterments were unplucked, free for gravity to have its way, the eclectic heap was scurried to its appropriate destination; lunch in the refrigerator, shoes in the footwear rack, jacket in the closet, and the magical attache was schlepped to the den, the projected battlefield strategy site for a showdown between Army men and Black Dragon. As the enchanted parcel was being whisked to its assigned real estate, a muffled hum came from within, something like an incoherent noise in the opposite room you just can’t identify, but promptly dismissed as an “overactive imagination”—and so it begins.
During the logistical kerfuffle, Melissa hugged Jack and hastily made a retreat to the door, then off to the daily grind gig, cognitively unencumbered, somewhat serene; Jack was safe, even though she left him with me, “The GOBY”, acronym for grumpy ole’ bastard—the extra Y is an alpha character for emphasis on the preceding word. Children have this amazing intuitive power to penetrate gruff exteriors to assess behavioral intent; Jack knew, I was a crotchety blowhard, an ole’ dog with no teeth. When I grumble, he reciprocates a smile. Jack made a cursory camera-like panning of the familiar rooms and promptly started staging the battlefield of man vs mythical dragon.
Comfortably slouched in a leather chair besieged by books, newspapers and magazines, I was strategically proximal to the kitchen’s horse-shoe contingent window panes, which permitted a vista of the back yard; where, center staged, is an eye magnet landscaping feature of a bubbling, hypnotic waterfalls, whose liquid contents are gravity rambling, ricocheting off random rocks that are luxuriantly dressed in a verdant wardrobe of sphagnum moss, spewing droplets and decibels, my attention rollicks from reading to reflection. A screech spear pierced my placidity, precipitating a reflex of body contortion toward the obnoxious stimulus and immediately secured a safety check of Jack’s well being, “what was that, are you OK?” My query open up the fairyland barn door emancipating a conversation of chimeran critters. Jack assured me he was fine, the hideous shrill, he explicated, “was the black dragon’s howls from Army gun fire.” “Whaaat?” as if, Jack was polylingual and the words articulated were incoherent ramblings of an ancient dead language; he continued—like a general, presenting the logistics of an on going battle and the future tactical maneuvers that were about to come to fruition. Then, the conversation went obliquely; the magic carpet pulled up and we both hopped on, wherein he and Tiggie, the dragonologist consultant, proceeded to elaborate on the natural history of dragons; multiple mutating types; that ice on sidewalks are residual carcases of demised dragons; pond turtles are chums of dragons—the minutia of dragonology continued with the carpet ride careening and swooping down many rabbit holes. All and all, it was a breath taken adventure with my grandson’s imagination and supporting cast, Tiggie. It does an ole’ man good, to let go…