Hong Kong Phooey: My Absent Father

You know how there are words out there for highly specific emotions? Like adronitis, the frustration over how long it takes to get to know someone. Or liberosis, the desire to care less about things. Is there a word for that feeling you get when you believe that there must be alternate realities that exist closely in space to your own reality, so close that they are ALMOST your reality, and that reality is that your real dad is cartoon buffoon Hong Kong Phooey? Does that even make sense? Great.

Well, since I was a very small child, I have had this feeling occasionally. And as I’ve aged, the feeling has lessened a bit, but it’s still there inside of me, shaping my personality to some extent.

Unlike other forms of insanity I probably have, this one can be traced directly to my mother. For as long as I’ve lived, my mother has always told this story about how she and some of the rest of my extended family took my older brother, then an only child, to see a Hanna-Barbera Icecapades show. While there, Hong Kong Phooey apparently took a liking to her and showed his ardor by sitting on her lap and dragging her from the audience to dance with her in front of everyone. She concludes this oft-told story by saying, “And then, nine months later, Amanda was born.”  Everyone laughs. Everyone always laughs. But once upon a time, I believed her. I was too young to understand that my mom might be kidding, but apparently old enough to catch the implication that Hong Kong Phooey was my real dad.

It turns out that if you start life thinking that you are half-cartoon, it kind of sticks with you, there in the middle, for all of the rest of your life. I mean, I know I am not actually a half-cartoon! Don’t send me to the asylum yet. Anyway, it would clearly have been an actor dressed up like Hong Kong Phooey, not the real poorly-animated dog. It would be like thinking that Santa and Mall Santas are the same thing. No!

Regardless, in my idle time, I start to wonder what my alternate reality life must be like, the one where HKP was not an absentee father. Let’s look at my art therapy session.

Mundane Chores

Amandoll as an elementary school student, holding a bag of groceries while being a passenger in the Hong Kong Phooey Mobile. He drives. Words are written on the side that say "beep beep! getting groceries!"

We would have been close, doing chores around the house such as raking leaves, making lunches together, running errands. I would have learned how to be humble and helpful, and tried to learn to not be as clumsy as he naturally is.

Thwarting Criminals

Amandoll is a middle school aged kid, with her fists up to fight. She is off to the side, really, while Hong Kong Phooey confronts a villainous train engineer, an evil man of wealth, and a third villain who looks like he might be a custodian but one from the 1890s. The words written at the top say "thwart crime."

This dog was a super hero when he was needed. From what little I know of him, he seemed to be a hero every single day. No doubt he would have eventually allowed me to tag along and help. In fact, he might never have had a choice. I might have included myself despite his protests.

Parent-Child Career Days

Amandoll is a teenager here, which is almost like present day Amandoll, but the hair isn't asymmetrical yet. She looks jaded and annoyed as she holds a mop, not mopping. She looks at Hong Kong Phooey in his janitorial clothes, blithely mopping the floor.

In this alternate reality, life is more like it is in television shows. I would have had to care for an egg as though it was a human baby, I would have had to partner with someone for a week in order to simulate marriage, and I would have had to accompany my dad to his day job — all for grades! As a teenager, I would have been very disenchanted by janitorial work.

What is the word for the feeling you get when you yearn to be able to slip easily between the alternate realities so that you can experience them all? Or is that what imagination is?  Wistful sigh.

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