NUDGE: What You Dreamed of Being

A digitally altered image of S.Hooligan I made for her birthday.


My eight-year-old niece, S. Hooligan, spent the previous year obsessed with St. Bernard dogs. She told everyone she was a St. Bernard, even strangers in public places or servers at restaurants. She was a St. Bernard for Halloween, in a furry costume her grandma made her and a mask we bought at JoAnn’s. She posed for pictures at school with her hands positioned as if she were a dog with paws raised.

Suddenly, in the past month, the St. Bernard mania has been replaced with a fascination with mermaids. S.Hooligan had a mermaid-themed birthday party. She received several mermaid gifts, including a pair of plastic fins that fit over her feet when she swims. She’s learned to Google, and she tells everyone she has to get back to her “research” on mermaids. She found a site with various spells to perform to turn into a mermaid. All she talked about this past Tuesday evening was her spell and whether or not she would actually grow a tail in the next 24 hours. Her research included looking up how fish poop; I guess she had questions about anatomy and physical functions.

Perhaps this will pass with the summer season, but maybe not. She sure milked her passion for St. Bernards long enough. If she succeeds with her spell and actually grows a tail, we’ve got a whole new set of problems.

Prompt: Write about what you dreamed of being. Not “who”—what, as in something fantastical, something you couldn’t in reality ever really be. Did you imagine turning into your favorite cryptid? Did you picture being Godzilla and stomping your hometown flat? Did you want to be a faery, a unicorn? If you wish, take it beyond childhood dreams. If you could be anything else right now, no matter how old you are, what would you be? I have to think about that one myself. I always wanted to be a ghost, but someday that could actually happen. One thing’s for sure: I do NOT want a fish tail!

UPDATE: I posted this nudge to Facebook, and my sister left the following comment:

BTW, all hell did NOT break loose when her mermaid spell didn’t work after 24 hours. She read that the the more people who use the spell, the longer it takes, so apparently she’s still hopeful. She’s still wearing the spell necklace. She also asked, with deep concern, what will happen if she goes to school and it starts to rain and she develops fins. I told her to go to the nurse and I’ll pick her up. Sigh…

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