I always wanted an imaginary friend. Only as I type that sentence does it strike me as a little sad. Why in the world didn’t I just imagine one? I guess it never occurred to me, and so clearly I did not deserve such a companion. So anyway I’m happy for Harper that she has her dear Murray. Murray has been with us for about 7 or 8 months now, having arrived on the scene as soon as she saw Sesame Street for the first time and forged a deep connection with the muppet Murray. Pretend-Murray, as he was originally known, made the leap from screen to home, and has since become a near-constant presence. No one can say for sure why Murray, the loud, friendly, floppy show host with the underbite and devil-may-care attitude captured her imagination so much more than, say, Elmo or Abby or some other carefully engineered tot-buddy. And yet captured her imagination he has, so much so that she doesn’t even want to see actual-Murray anymore because presumably he messes with the pretend-Murray in her head.
All of which is to say, Murray has been especially busy lately. Allow me to share some tidbits.
1) Murray is 18 years old, which means he can drive a car and chew gum.
2) Murray lives in Mexico with many cats.
3) Murray has a new baby arriving soon, sometimes a brother, sometimes a sister, sometimes a “other brother.”
4) Murray is prone to terrible stomach troubles due to his habit of eating old strawberries off the floor. This results in frequent doctor visits, but he rarely fusses and almost never kicks the doctor.
5) Murray is fuzzy, like Sesame Street Murray, but instead of orange, he is yellow.
6) Sometimes Murray is a baby and nurses and bites or nibbles. I don’t know where she gets this stuff.
7) Murray often squeezes toothpaste on clothing, creating the need for outfits to be changed post haste.
8) Murray is sometimes sitting on the toilet when I’m asking Harper to try to pee, so she can’t because she doesn’t want to smush him.
9) Murray usually stays home from parties or outings because he’s feeling shy.
10) Murray has more than once pushed Ollie down or thrown toys at him, and needs Harper to explain to him that Ollie is just a baby and needs to be treated gently.
ETA: I cannot BELIEVE I forgot about one of Murray’s most definitive characteristics, which is that he is often accompanied by The Big Kids. This is an amorphous group of age-shifting children. Inquiries into their ages, genders, names, and other characteristics are always deflected. But there they are, on the couch, or at school, or causing some sort of mischief. “Oh, that’s the Big Kids’ snack, you have to leave it out,” or, “Murray and the Big Kids decided to draw on the wall.” Adam finds The Big Kids to be somewhat creepy, and I have to concur — they sometimes seem to operate kind of like a Warriors-esque gang, a cohesive group of themed folk who seem playful at first but are, it is soon revealed, unstoppable. You didn’t think Murray traveled without a posse, did you?