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Whittling Away: Personification means having friends wherever you go

January 11, 2019 11:37 am Updated: January 11, 2019 11:42 am


I came out of the store the other day and started towards my car. There was a lady pushing her cart in front of me. As she passed behind my car, I saw her pause for a moment, smile and proceed to her car. I don’t know her but I think she’s one of my people.

The back of my car has lettering that reads, “Ota.” I think she either has a name for her car or has had a car in her past that had a name. She looked like a nice person so that’s what I hope she was thinking and not, “What kind of idiot names his car?”

Personification is something you either do or don’t do. I’ve done it since I was a child, I think it’s a sign of a highly intelligent, imaginative person. It’s the art of transferring human characteristics to inanimate objects or to animals.

Not all my cars have had names, some were just forms of transportation. The Queen’s car has been a great car, transporting us comfortably and safely for a bunch of miles. It has no name because it has no personality. Babe on the other hand has the patient, solid manner of a friendly beast of burden. He isn’t pretty but he’s rock solid and kind. He deserves a name. He is loved. I talk to him during our adventures on our travels.

I started down this path to personification at an early age. Back in the good old days, when I was for a too brief period, an only child, I had an imaginary friend. He and I were great pals, even after my first sibling made an appearance. My little brother wasn’t too communicative for the first couple of years so my invisible friend continued to exist, a playmate who always wanted to do what I wanted and was a great excuse for getting an extra ice cream cone which he never seemed to want after he got it so I had to eat it. Life was good, then along came another brother and finally a sister. They crowded my little friend out of my life.

Animals replaced him, there were farm animals to talk to and the ever faithful Cocker-Beagle mix, Chew-Chew. I still talk to my pets. I used to do it when nobody was looking, fearing that the guys in the white coats might be called. Now I don’t care what other people think, they don’t do it often anyway. I have no better friend than my current canine, Telly. Before he came into my life, I was starting to talk to myself but found that I wasn’t very interesting so I frequently bored myself. Telly is a different matter, he sits and looks as I chat with him, cocking his head from side to side. I know that he really doesn’t understand a word I’m saying other than “Out” and “Ride in the car” but he loves me unconditionally and tries his hardest to make me happy by giving me his whole and undivided attention.

There are objects in my life that don’t have names but they are friends and make me happy that I have them. My old stoneware beer mug that I drink my morning coffee from is an example. Coffee doesn’t taste the same from any of the other mugs in the cabinet. I would really miss the carving knife I’ve used for 30 years, I have many other tools that I could use to pursue my hobby of woodcarving, but that particular knife gives me comfort and fits my hand perfectly, I would miss it. I took great care, as usual, when I stored my Christmas Angel when I took the Christmas tree down. It’s been on the top of every Christmas tree I’ve ever had, it’s one of my treasures too.

Telly is sitting at my feet waiting to go get the mail and go to the market in Ota. They’re my friends and my life is richer for them. Telly says to say, “Hi” for him. You are our friends too and our life is richer for having you in it.

Thought for the week — If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. — Yogi Berra

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach Dick Brooks at