Ian McKellen was enjoying his day off from rehearsing his latest play, The Wizards of Madison County, with a trip to the grocery store, and then maybe a tandem bike ride later. He wandered through the produce aisle, admiring the colorful bounty before him. There was just something so visually pleasing about a well-stocked produce aisle, Ian McKellen thought to himself. He saw the tubs of cherry tomatoes, and for a moment, his hand outstretched, he imagined a villainous character who had the power to bend cherry tomatoes to his evil will. Then he picked up a plastic tub of cherry tomatoes and looked at it from all sides to see if these were delicious looking, ripe cherry tomatoes, or wrinkly and rotting old gross ones. We cannot choose the tomatoes we are given, only what to do about buying the cherry tomatoes the store has. Ian McKellen placed the cherry tomatoes into his hand basket and continued down the aisle.
“YOU SHALL NOT PEAS!” he said to the peas. Ian McKellen did not like peas!
Just then, he felt a tug at his leg. There was a child staring up at him. “Are you a wizard?” the child asked?
Ian McKellen furrowed his brow. “No, are you a hobbit?”
The child made a face like he had tasted something terrible, and shook his head from side to side. “No, I’m a boy. I’m a human boy.”
“Indeed you are,” Ian McKellen said. “Because hobbits do not exist. And neither do wizards.”
The boy shrugged and ran a few feet to clutch at his mother’s skirts. “Your boy thought I was a wizard,” Ian McKellen called out to her. “He must have a wonderful imagination.”
The mother looked down at her child, as if she had never seen him before, and shook her head. “No, he is actually almost completely lacking in imagination. It’s kind of sad, really. He takes everything completely literally and at face value. My husband and I have talked about taking him to a therapist or something, but yeah, no, no imagination whatsoever. One time we gave him a refrigerator box to play in, thinking he would turn it into a fort or a spaceship or something. He just wrote “David’s Refrigerator Box” on the side and then would sit in it completely still and silent for hours.”
“Well maybe he’s just shy. He thought I was a wizard, so he must be more clever than he lets on.”
The woman gave Ian McKellen a disappointed look. “No, Ian McKellen, I’m telling you, this boy has no imagination. I think the reason that he thought you were a wizard was because you look like a wizard. Like, your face looks like a wizard. And you have a long wizard’s beard. Also you are dressed like a wizard in a shiny silk wizard’s robe covered in silvery moons and runes. Oh, and you’re carrying a staff with a crystal at the top. And on your head there sits a floppy wizard’s hat. Besides, I heard you chanting gentle incantations over by the deli counter.”
“He just hadn’t sliced the roast beef thin enough to my taste, it was a minor spell at best. A parlor trick.”
“Whatever, Ian McKellen. I’m just saying: you’re basically a wizard. Deal with it. Don’t pretend like that somehow makes other people’s boring, unimaginative, possibly mentally disabled children have normal, active, excitingly unpredictable imaginations.” The woman walked away, dragging her kid behind her, although he didn’t seem to mind. His face was completely blank and affectless.
Ian McKellen sighed. Perhaps next time he would not wear the hat. He waved his hand once in the air, causing the line of shoppers before him to disappear. He paid for his groceries with gold coins, mounted Shadowfax, and headed home, where he would keep the Sun Chips he had just bought secret, keep them safe. IN HIS STOMACH.