• theniamhcooper

Who's Walty?

Updated: Mar 9

Part 2

On International Women's Day 2021, I felt it was only fitting to update you on the whereabouts of Walter Mitty. Scroll down to Part 1 first, if you've only just stumbled upon my dilemma...

So, on this Monday, 8th March, three weeks on from V-Day, there is still no sign from Walter Valentine. It only took me three weeks for the penny to drop, that I should actually familiarise myself with the character of Walter Mitty and his daydreams, and see does said story hold any clues. So, I actually read the story. I am not sure it holds any clues. Except for a very strange one, that only someone who knows me very well might know.

The story is based in Connecticut, and mentions two places, one of which is quite familiar to me. In fact, I was exactly there, just a little over 365 days ago (I squeaked back into Ireland mere days before schools closed in March 2020). But that could just be a complete coincidence. How would our love-struck Walty know this - unless he was the guy who chatted to me that evening in that place where we met, and we got on like a house on fire, which would have been rather handy, come to think of it, with the freezing cold, and... Sigh. He was rather gorgeous, actually. But no. It could not have been him. The postage stamp was Irish. So we know that this card was posted on this island. During a pandemic, it’s harder to get someone to do things like that for you. Plus, it would smack of the “my friend fancies you” days in the dishco, and one would hope that once one gets past that teenage dangst (dance Angst) stage, that one finds other ways to get a woman's attention.

Walty’s daydreams also hold no clues whatsoever, apart from being quite amusing, and also, a little bit mad. I do like a little bit of mad. The wife is portrayed as an overbearing individual. Likeable she is not, but neither is he, really - he’s pretty non-descript; he’s somewhat lacking in oomph, for my liking, and he can be found in the deepest depths of his mind, most of the time, barely connected with the world. Now, I have to ask myself, how much does real-life Walty see himself in this character? And why does he want to be my very own, and mine?

Have I terrified the bejaysus out of him, by writing this blog? I am no closer to solving the mystery that is Mitty. My daughter thinks I’m spending way too much time on this quest but I advised her that there’s precious little going on at the moment, so, why not? She wasn’t able to present me with a convincing counter argument, so I’m persisting with my mission. She then shook her head and walked off, leaving me to sit with my mug of tea, a large slice of chocolate cake, turning over said card in my chocolate-covered fingers. Yes, I still have it. I kept it as the matter is unresolved. I do really want to know now. Kind of. I am slightly petrified also. The card itself is devoid of any other clues. Except that it also says “I love you” at the back, which I had missed the first time. That design department certainly left no doubt that this was a Valentine’s card, and not one for a wedding anniversary. The latter may have subtly placed the numbers of an investment bank and a divorce lawyer side by side on the reverse. So, I call on thee, once again, pretty Mitty: reveal thou self. It’s been 21 days. In fact, eagle eyes revealed that the card was stamped on 11th Feb, so it’s been almost a month. Do you really want to go to these lengths and then not tell me who you are? Not tell me what compelled you to put a little thought into this, but keep me guessing with that anonymous signature of yours? If you wanted to intrigue me: You've succeeded. Over to you. And while you’re mulling over how to best get in touch (hey, look, there’s a contact page on the 5MinuteMusings.com home page!), why don’t the rest of us settle down over a hot brew and have a read of the story, link below. Oh, if anyone has any bright ideas... comment away. Till the next update.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Part 1

I woke up on Monday 15th February lamenting lockdown, and the fact that I couldn’t be with my sister for her big-ish sort of birthday. Usually we’d find an excuse to have a decadent meal out somewhere, followed by good wine, dubious presents that left us reminiscing about good times and dodgy encounters, oh, and yes, about the fact that the previous day was Valentine’s. When you’ve been married, then separated and at the hopefully tail-end of a divorce, that’s not something you tend to dwell on, especially when lockdown has brought its own challenges, and distractions.

So, on said 15th February, I was all the more surprised when John the postman handed me a red envelope while I was on the phone to a colleague about a business matter. Mid-zoom, I was a tad distracted, and I placed said item on the hall table, only to return to it a few hours later when I remembered its existence.

When I opened the card over our second breakfast - we tend to live like hobbits these days and like to follow up our initial breakfast with a second one (today it was Belgian waffles with maple syrup, and a big pot of tea (11 o'clock is too early for mojitos)) - to say I was confused was an understatement. I found myself revealing a card with a rather large red heart on the front, declaring his love for me, and asking me to be his.

Except, I had no idea who, in fact, wanted me to be his.

It was signed with a rather cryptic statement:

Your very own Walter Mitty X

Now, unless I didn't decipher the handwriting correctly, and it was, in fact, signed by 'Wilma Milty', or the even more elusive 'Wonder Kitty', I had absolutely no idea who would identify as Walter, and why he was my very own. The last time I had a Walter... well, actually, I never did have a Walter.

I searched the envelope for clues over a fourth cup of tea - there were none - An Post has regrettably long since discontinued the practice of stamping letters from whence they came - and I still was none the wiser who, in fact, was behind, or in the centre of, the card. I had forgotten to take fingerprints from all friends, relatives and acquaintances I had met up to now, so comparing a long list of prints with those on the card wasn't an option, either. Also, the card now contained maple syrup, rendering any prints unusable.

Now, for those who know me, I’ve been 29 in my head for quite some time now. So much so that, though I’d heard of the elusive Walter Mitty, I found myself googling him, just in case I remembered incorrectly. Google confirmed my suspicions: WM had been a character in a James Thurber story featured in the New Yorker in 1939, most definitely before my time, and more recently, a character in a film, immortalised by a certain Ben Stiller. The 29-year-old me was puzzled. I had embarked upon a futile search akin to those of the famous books, where you have to find a certain character with a striped shirt, amidst 10987392048 other characters.

Where the feck was Walty?

I had no idea where he was from. So I decided to focus on the person. Walter Mitty was a married man 'whose domineering wife makes no effort to understand him', according to Wikipedia. He fantasised about a certain woman, and was a non-descript sort of character who frequently daydreamed. Curious as to where this was going, I delved a little deeper. What kind of daydreams did Walter Mitty have? Was there a clue in the daydreams, perhaps? Walter Mitty had five daydreams, in which he was:

  1. a Navy pilot,

  2. a world-famous surgeon,

  3. a defendant in a murder trial,

  4. a fighter pilot, and

  5. a condemned prisoner.

Headscratch. I was Alice, and I was not liking any of those choices. Back up the rabbit hole I went.

Who had given himself the name of such an inept character? Who had gone out and purchased a card, bought a stamp, and taken the trouble to find out my address? Who, strangely, and a little unsettlingly, had my eircode?

Who the feck was Walty?

There were no clues in the handwriting either. I did not recognise it, but then, one rarely exchanges handwritten missives these days. Was this person declaring they want to be a character in one of my stories? Or thinking they had already been? Which Wally liked me enough to take the time to send a card, and did, but didn't, really, want me to know who it was? Who signed a card with an ‘x’, but did not divulge any other information? Perhaps his name started with an ‘x’? Xavier, Xenophilius, X-Ray, is that you?

I decided to sit it out. See if anything happened.

See if Walter decided to reveal himself.

For, if not, what, in fact, was the point?

He has not. Ten days on, I am still none the wiser.

A cruel joke, from a friend, perhaps? A wannabe lesbian lover - though my inclinations are otherwise? Someone who’s married but dares not reveal themselves? Someone who’s bored? Someone who, during lockdown, has realised they’re lonely? Or misses company? Or misses me? Or, whose own life is so boring that they want to inject some excitement in their own, and possibly, my, life? A blast from the past? A lonely ex-lover? A fun-merchant who wants to see what happens? A complete stranger? Bernie and his 'mittys'?

Walter, tell me, what’s your motivation? Do you want to be part of my five minute musings, for five minutes?

Congratulations, Walty, if that’s what you wanted: here you are, the subject of this musing!

Or maybe it’s someone who’s been in my life, and I never knew your feelings for me? Someone who wrote about me? Someone in writing circles, who is still writing (but in this case, very little)? Then why oh why did you not pen a poem, or a song, to woo me? Does one even still woo people?

The mystery remains.

So, I call you on it, Walter. Reveal thou self.

I am sufficiently intrigued to write this post, yet sufficiently apprehensive. The last time this happened, not so long ago, it turned out to be someone who had intentions which were not shared by me. This is, of course, a risk. But what is life without a little risk? Is rejection what you’re fearing? Well, it's very hard to say 'Yes' when you don't know who's asking the question! And, if the answer is No, then at least you know.

Walter, if your intentions are honourable, let's do this:

Send me a message, another card, a story, a comment, a DM, a message in a bottle (hint: I like dark chocolate and Dáda wine). And I will reply.

Or, do you really just want to remain a figment of Mr Thurber's imagination?

Disclaimer: if it’s money you’re after, well, publishing's a funny game, and if you think us writing folk are loaded, you might think again. Typical royalties lie at 10%, and if it’s a book that was published just before an exam that didn’t take place, well, that’s 10% of minus €1000. I owe them money.

Then again, if you have a sense of fun, a twinkle in your eye, a spark to ignite mine, and are witty, then you could just be my Walter Mitty.

What do you have to lose?

Walter, it's your move. Send me a sign. You might even find your way into one of my stories.

Now, who’s for a mojito?

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