Some years ago I wrote a treatment for a children’s book that detailed a boy’s imaginary journey while he sat listening to an orchestra in a concert hall. The lady in the seat directly in front of him starred in his daydreams as a recurring damsel in distress. Like a lot of what I wrote at Portland, this story got tossed around, excited some interest, and wound up in a folder. A few weeks ago, I decided to use some of my spare time to illustrate a bit of it.
I know nothing of the imaginary life of girls, but I feel that boyhood fantasies are on the whole ennobling. There does exist the occasional revenge fantasy, and many daydreams center around popularity and possessions, but I think it is solid fact to assert that boyhood fantasies aspire to virtue more than adult fantasies. I suffer no delusions about childhood. I don’t think that humans are born in a state of innocence, and anyone that deals with children knows they are as selfish as any creaky-boned degenerate. But it is undeniable that the prepubescent boy’s perception of women is so incomplete as to be positively innocent, and so innocent as to provoke grand and gallant desires. Furthermore, a young boy’s yearning for the heroic is so intense that it consumes him like a holy passion. I think the prick of these noble feelings is never as keenly felt as when one is a boy.
The obvious stumbling block for any boy wishing to channel the moral exuberance of Galahad is the boy’s lack of resources. I have a memory of a daydream from third grade in which masked men attacked my elementary school. For some reason I was alone with a pretty sixth grade girl–a girl I didn’t really know except admiringly from afar. Unfortunately there was no way I could go toe to toe with a masked gunman. It was too unbelievable even for my imagination. My grand heroic gesture was to grab her hand and run down the hallway always correctly pointing out the exits. I soon exhausted the dramatic possibilities of the chase scene, so I added a turning point. I may have only been in third grade, but what I lacked in fight, I made up for in my ability to take a bullet. This caused the gunmen to choke with remorse, and the six grade girl wept profoundly as she realized that our three year age gap could not quench the fire of admiration that burned within her chest.
You’ll notice that the boy in the illustration is at war with snowmen. They are both threatening and easily defeated. This makes them the perfect daydream nemesis. I have no way to help you tap into your grander more heroic self except to leave you with the anthem of the International Order of the Knights of King Arthur as printed in the 1907 classic, The Boy’s Round Table: A Manual of Boys’ Clubs Explaining The Order of the Knights of King Arthur. Soak it in, and do great things:
By communion of the banner, Crimson, white and starry banner,
By the baptism of the banner, Children of the Flag are we.
By our bright cross-hilted sword-blades,
By our flashing, heav’n-bathed sword blades,
By our circled, comrade sword-blades,
Warriors of the King we be.
Comrades, hail the Cross that leads us,
Comrades, hail the Grail that beckons,
Comrades, hail the War that waits us.
Knights of holy chivalry.