Fireside Chat — What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?
I woke up this morning to the bubbling and gurgling sound every asthmatic recognizes as a head cold with benefits. When I finally got my coffee, the computer turned on and all the other small things and not so small things done, and it was time to check the Daily Prompt. Lo and behold, it suggested I invite someone over and listen to his or her life story.
That didn’t appeal to me today. Too much bubbling and gurgling in my bronchial tubes. I would prefer inviting someone over to listen to my life story. It’s that kind of morning. I initially considered Sigmund Freud. He was a notoriously good listener, but his “penis envy” shtick never worked for me. I want a gentle, sympathetic ear to listen to my tale of woe. I need Harvey.
ELWOOD P. DOWD (Jimmy Stewart):
Harvey and I have things to do. We sit in the bar. Have a drink or two. Play the jukebox. Very soon the faces of all the other people turn towards me and they smile. They say: “We don’t know your name, mister, but you’re a very nice fellow.”
Harvey and I warm ourselves in these golden moments. We came as strangers — soon we have friends. They come over. They sit with us. They drink with us. They talk to us. They tell us about the great big terrible things they’ve done and the great big wonderful things they’re going to do. Their hopes, their regrets. Their loves, their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar. T
hen I introduce them to Harvey, and he’s bigger and grander than anything they can offer me. And when they leave, they leave impressed. The same people seldom come back, but that’s — that’s envy, my dear. There’s a little bit of envy in the best of us. That’s too bad, isn’t it?
I’d just helped Ed Hickey into a taxi. Ed had been mixing his rye with his gin, and I felt he needed conveying.
I started to walk down the street when I heard a voice saying: “Good evening, Mr. Dowd”. I turned, and there was this big white rabbit leaning against a lamp-post. Well, I thought nothing of that, because when you’ve lived in a town as long as I’ve lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name. And naturally, I went over to chat with him.
We talked like that for a while and then I said to him, “You have the advantage on me. You know my name and I don’t know yours.”
And right back at me he said, “What name do you like?” Well, I didn’t even have to think twice about that. Harvey’s always been my favorite name. So I said to him, I said,
“Harvey.” And, this — this is the interesting thing about the whole thing. He said, “What a coincidence. My name happens to be Harvey.”
I want a long, pleasant evening with Harvey. Maybe with the wood stove fired up. It’s a nice touch. Homey. It makes the house smell woody and smoky.
Who is Harvey?
P-O-O-K-A. Pooka. From old Celtic mythology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one. A benign but mischievous creature. Very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?
I thought everyone knew but you youngsters probably haven’t seen it. It’s in black and white. No one wants to watch old black and white movies anymore. They want action and CGI in blazing color with lots of sound effect. Harvey is a peaceful, gentle, funny movie without special effects. It is about a 12-foot invisible (mostly) rabbit from … mythology? Another dimension? A Pooka.
Some people can see him. Many others can’t. Regardless, Harvey is the best friend you always wanted. And I would love to borrow him, just for an evening. I hope the dogs won’t mind.
From the lips of Elwood P. Down:
Oh, yes! Yes. Yes — these things always work out just the way Harvey says they will. He is very, very versatile. Did I tell you he could stop clocks? Well, you’ve heard the expression ‘His face would stop a clock’? Well, Harvey can look at your clock and stop it. And you can go anywhere you like — with anyone you like — and stay as long as you like. And when you get back, not one minute will have ticked by. … You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space — but any objections.
Harvey. I’ll invite Harvey over for a lovely chat. Tonight, maybe.