12/31/2012 02:25 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2013

The Girl on the Veranda

Dear Waldo,

I keep having this same fantasy. A beautiful woman is standing on a veranda high in the mountains looking out at the sea, and a soft summer wind is blowing her loose cotton dress, and her long hazel ringlets move against the bronze of her back as she lifts a cup of tea to her full lips, inhaling the fragrance of spices, and then she sighs with pleasure at the promise of every next moment. Maybe I saw it in an ad or something. I'm not even sure. The problem is, I'm cross-eyed. I want to be on a veranda with a woman like that with the breeze and so forth and maybe her on my lap but how could that ever happen for somebody with crossed eyes like me? I guess my question is, what's with fantasies? What good are they? They just make me sad.

If you ever answer this, thank-you.


Dear Nigel,

I'm with you when it comes to fantasies. Fantasies can be troublesome. They can make you feel like an idiot for having them. This is because the You in your fantasy is not the Real You. It's the Super, Souped-Up You. It's the You you wish you were. Several times, for example, The Real Me has arrived at the door to my own fantasy only to get heaved onto the sidewalk and told to beat it.

Fantasies do nothing but torment us for our shortcomings. So why do we have them? Here's my guess Nigel: Life is hard. Fantasies give us a little rest. Compared to real life, fantasy life is a cinch. Look! There's me tackling a kidnapper! And there I am kissing Susan Sarandon as she hands me my Oscar! And look at that convoy of ambulances carrying stretchers-full of mourners who have collapsed at my funeral from over-crying.

In real life, you have to actually live it. In fantasy life, all you have to do is think it.

Which makes me believe that your letter is really an inquiry into a much bigger issue: Death. That's correct, Nigel. Death. Even more popular than the fantasies taxied in while masturbating are the fantasies inspired by Death. Yes, Life is hard, but at least it supplies us with lots of information. Afterlife, on the other hand, reveals nothing. We got no hard facts. We got no witnesses. All we know for sure is that we know nothing for sure. It's all guesswork.

And so what do we do when our ace in the hole -- our big brain -- comes up empty? When there's no firm basis for even a good guess? When we cannot -- just cannot -- find a solution to a problem?

We fantasize!

How's this for some fancy fantasizing: Heaven! Hell! Angels! Devils! Halos! Pitchforks! Eternal Bliss! Eternal Fire! Not to mention Immaculate Conception? Seas Parting? Noah's Ark! And on and on!

It's a cartoon show! And that's only one of countless other terrific cartoon shows meant to settle you into your seats for the Main Attraction: Life! We soothe ourselves with magnificent, colorful Looney Tunes.

Which brings us, Nigel, to your fantasy. You are not alone. Everybody has their version of The Girl On The Veranda. Everybody has their -- forgive me Nigel for I am a weak man -- crossed eyes to bear. Our fantasies provide us with a temporary shelter. A hastily-constructed shack of hope. An easy answer to a difficult question. A moment of comfort.

And so, Nigel, you can be a person who watches cartoons and takes them seriously, or you can be a person who watches cartoons the way cartoons are meant to be watched -- with a light heart, and without emotional investment, and maybe while sharing popcorn with someone who has no veranda, who has no ringlets, but who has turned to you with a comfortable smile to ask if she's got any kernels caught in her delightfully crooked front teeth.

Your Fan,

Waldo Mellon