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Mr. Wicket:
Down the gopher hole

by Mr. Wicket
layout and image manipulation by Reuben Edwards
Posted July 26, 2012

Launching a new idea requires work, planning, thought. For me, that means a lot of pacing, because my feet and my brain are wired together. I was pacing and musing on the best way to quickly get the news out at the beginning of the first season of our magnificent website and beautiful new Supersize products. Press releases? Personal appearances? Give-away public events? Festivals? E-mail promotions? A world championship? All of the above?

Considering all the possibilities and the combinations is exhausting—especially when you throw in the pacing. Completely in my head, pacing along the edge of the croquet court, I somehow lost my footing and felt myself tumbling head over hindquarters and coming to rest…..where? I looked around, confused.

Startled, I peered out upon an unfamiliar landscape of scraggly grass and gently rolling hills studded with a few trees, and far over on the right, a banyan grove – which was strangely inconsistent with what looked very much like a snow field up on the hill. Was I dreaming? And I was completely alone. But no, turning back to my right, I was surprised to see an upright mirror, and in it, what I can only describe as an apparition. A hauntingly familiar apparition.

“My god,” I breathed….

“Nope, it’s only me,” the apparition in the mirror replied mildly….

“But where am I? I don’t recognize any of this. I was just by the croquet court, and…”

“It was only a gopher hole you tripped over. Don’t be alarmed…”

“A gopher hole? That’s crazy! All this…,” I was speechless, gesturing helplessly into the strange landscape.

“Changing your persona can have its disquieting aspects,” the apparition murmured.

“Changing my persona?’

“Yes. That’s what almost invariably happens to people who trip on this particular gopher hole.”

I paused for reflection, as one sometimes does in dreams. Then I decided that my earlier thought had to be correct. This could ONLY be a dream. If it were only a dream I could just play along and go wherever the dream took me.

“Who are you, anyway?” I asked the apparition.

“Actually, I am your new public persona,” the friendly apparition in the mirror said. “If I don’t yet seem a precise reflection in this looking glass, it’s because you have not totally accepted your new image. In Jungian terms you might say that I am your ‘shadow self.’”

“What on earth does that mean?”

“It means that I’m an aspect of your Self that you have not yet been willing to embrace as an aspect of your whole, integrated Self.”

“Good lord!” was all I could manage. “This is fantastic! You don’t look as scarey as an archetype. Isn’t this a dream I’m having?”

“What kind of question is that to ask in a dream? In Jungian terms, you have engaged your active imagination. But don’t worry, I’m not an archetype. Don’t you know me yet?” the figure said, smiling. He paused, looking at me closely. “Yes, I believe you are beginning to recognize me. Good! Because the truth is, I am you. Or, more precisely, I am your Better Self, your New Self, your newly minted Public Persona.”

I looked more closely. The figure WAS familiar. His hat was large, a safari hat, I supposed, and his dark glasses were splattered with images of small flowers – rather eccentric, I thought. And the nametag said, in a decorative italic typeface I recognized as Monotype Corsiva… “Mr. Wicket”…

The apparition spoke again, this time sharply: “You can at least PRETEND to be a lovable eccentric named Mr. Wicket, can’t you?” he spat, the voice now dripping with sarcasm. “This is your new persona. Run with it…. No, on second thought, at your age, better just to walk briskly.”

Looking closely at the apparition, I noted some disquieting wrinkles and spots and sags. “Shouldn’t there be some work done on those….?”

“Heavens, no! Your new persona could use a few more friendly/cuddly crinkles, if the truth be known. We don’t mind taking the edge off your advanced years, but we wouldn’t want to turn Mr. Wicket into a Palm Beach kewpie doll!”

“But,” I said, “the whole effect is….well, more eccentric than I would like, not very dignified….”

“Exactly! Just what we need! You’re a tall man, a big man. You can look rather threatening at times – especially to small children, and most especially in your righteous mode. You have to lighten up a bit to actualize the desired persona. That’s the main benefit, for you. And ALL of this is for you, Mr. Wicket! Just think, you can go places you NEVER could go with your everyday, dull but rather intimidating and off-putting mundane persona.”

“I don’t know. I think my reputation is….”

Mr. Wicket’s the perfect ticket!

“Your reputation is precisely the problem. Yes, yes, yes, you’re the world’s greatest living authority, but that’s the problem, isn’t it? Who cares, really? We’re talking about CROQUET here, not about saving the planet, for godssake. Mr. Wicket doesn’t have to tout his credentials. Mr. Wicket is FUN. He – I mean YOU – represents the FUN of the thing called croquet, this so-called sport. And what is essential in the re-branding of the sport you’re always talking about? Lightening up! A bit of charming eccentricity, harking back to the sport’s 19th century roots. What better rebranding could you have than FUN? Mr. Wicket’s the perfect ticket!”

“But that’s apostasy! Croquet is a serious sport! I’m afraid this will alienate a lot of people who….”

“Oh yes, tell me about it,” the apparition canted, rolling his eyes heavenward. “It will most certainly alienate the hundreds of millions of people who play your precious croquet every day—right?—on all those tens of thousands of perfectly manicured, well-tended courts throughout America and the developed world…” The voice now dripped nastily with scorn. “Not even to speak of the fat-cat corporate sponsors who pour millions into the ‘sport’ of croquet, or your nationally revered mallet-and-hoop heroes who pull down more hundreds of millions in endorsements touted in magazines and shown on television for major championships and big-money purse tournaments! Or the throngs of people who pay big bucks for bleacher seats to see those prestigious spectacles. Oh no, you wouldn’t want to alienate those people, would you?” The righteous scorn was definitely overplayed.

But a strange thing had happened to the image during this long speech: It was now almost recognizable as…Oh, no, could it be? As Bob Alman! Serious, intense, righteous, controlling, dull Bob Alman?

“Dear me!” I heard myself breathe. But then, I said to myself, “Dear me???!?? I would never say something like ‘Dear me!’”

I felt something on my head. It was a safari hat. Glancing down, I saw that my nametag said “Mr.Wicket” in italic Monotype Corsiva. This really WAS my new persona! Mr. Wicket, the champion of Toequet, the co-inventor of Malletball, the promoter of SuperSize Croquet for the millions! Well….for the thousands, for the moment, but soon…

Lost in my thoughts, I looked back into the glass, but it was empty now, except for my own image and the shimmering reflection of the vast scene behind me where many groups of players were scattered over that other-worldly landscape, all playing SuperSize Croquet--on the beach, in the snowfield, through the Banyan grove. Just as we had first promoted these games, half a decade ago: “Anyone, anytime, any place.”

Turning perhaps a little too quickly to inspect more closely the amazing spectacle, I must have turned my ankle, and felt myself losing my balance, falling, falling, falling…

“Wake up, wake up! Are you all right?” a voice was shouting at me.

I was lying on the ground beside a bench. My safari hat was on the ground beside me. As I put it on, I glanced down at my nametag. It said, “Mr. Wicket.”

“You must have hit your head on the bench” the gardener said, smiling, reaching down a hand to pull me up. The gardener NEVER smiled… “So you’re Mr. Wicket now!”

“Dear me,” I said, rising slowly to survey my new domain. “Yes, I suppose I am.”

The world is such a very different place, now. Of course it’s the same world, but I seem to be seeing it from a different place – as if framed in a mirror that shows things exactly as they are, except in reverse. And just by being framed in that precise way, they are transformed, miraculously!

Whereas my usual self, rattling around the universe, was pretty much invisible and isolated from most of humanity, I find that Mr. Wicket is greeted effusively and joyfully, everywhere. Strangers come up to me and say, brightly, with obvious pleasure, “Mr. Wicket! How are you today!?” And sometimes, “Don’t you remember me? You taught us croquet in Middle School!” People I’ve never met speak to me as if to an old friend, smiling and addressing me familiarly by the title on my nametag: Mr. Wicket!

It’s not quite like being a celebrity. A celebrity is really a non-person, a symbol, with no reality that connects to the others except as a fantastical projection. It’s not like being a clown, either, which is merely a costume act, sometimes quite a frightening one. No, Mr. Wicket is none of those. People seem very comfortable in establishing the kind of instant rapport with Mr. Wicket that would be impossible for a celebrity or a clown or for anyone in any “normal” mode.

I have not been universally received this way in the world since I was a beautiful – and totally non-threatening – child of four or five, with long blond curls and innocent, unshaded blue eyes.

But now I live in a new reality. I am Mr. Wicket!

Who are you? Do you want to play?

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