A Conversation with "my" Frodo

by Vison

Frodo Baggins was waiting for me in my office this morning. He was sitting in my chair, moving my mouse about, and reading the posts on Middle Earth.

“Hullo,” he said, as I came in. “Sleep in this morning?”

“I do my chores before I sit down at the computer,” I answered. “If I don’t do them first, they don’t get done! I fall into the Black Hole of Middle Earth pretty quickly.”

“I noticed that,” he said. He got up and perched himself on the corner of the other desk, and smiled at me. “Well?”

“Well, what?” I said, somewhat exasperated. “I don’t really know what to say to you, you’re an imaginary being, after all.”

“Yes, I am. It’s an odd life, being imaginary! The adventures I’ve had, why, you would hardly credit the half of them. But on the whole, I’ve enjoy it.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” I answered. “Because I sure enjoy your life! Reading it, and watching it, if you know what I mean.”

He nodded. “Tell me,” he said, “do I look as you thought I did?”

“Not really,” I answered. “I pictured you as being taller…..” then I laughed. “Well, I did! And I thought you’d have a bit of grey hair at your temples. But, I guess you’ll do, lookswise.”

“That’s a relief! I never know how people see me, young, old, fat, thin. I’ve been everything to everyone for so long I forget, myself, what I’m really like.” He sighed. “I never thought I’d be so important, you see. Even when I was Mayor of the Shire, I wasn’t half as important as I am now. It’s mostly Mr. Tolkien’s fault, but Peter Jackson has to take his share of the blame. Or the credit, depending on your point of view.”

“You’re certainly popular, Frodo,” I said, shyly. I found it hard to call him by his first name, but it seemed out of place to say “Mr. Baggins”. “People want to know everything about you! You’re like a combination of Brad Pitt and Madonna, or something! People just can’t get enough.”

“Well, it doesn’t bother me, you know. I’m imaginary and nothing anyone says or does can hurt me. It’s very interesting, though, to be Frodo Baggins. I never know what my day is going to bring! Why, I’ve had adventures where I get married, I’ve had adventures where I fathered a child out of wedlock, I’ve had quite scandalous adventures with Samwise and Legolas! Oh, yes, don’t look so surprised, I surf the net a lot.”

“You surf the net? But … but.. …how?”

“On my computer, of course! We have all the modern conveniences in the Blessed Realm, and Elrond made sure we have high speed cable internet,” he said.

“So, you’re still in the Blessed Realm? Some people think you died, when you went there. Others think you get to live forever. The arguments we’ve had over it! Wow. You’re still there, so that means, you get to live forever. One argument settled, anyway.”

“No, no,” he gently chided me. “Vison, Vison! This is your imaginary conversation with the imaginary Frodo Baggins. Someone else is having a very different conversation with me somewhere else, and leaping to the exact opposite conclusion!”

My head began to spin and I sighed. “I -- I understand. I think.”

He patted my hand. “Don’t look so distressed, poor old duck. I know it’s hard, but listen to me, just go with the flow, ok?”

“I need my coffee,” I said. “Would you like one?”

“Yes, thank you. Just black. I learned a long time ago that coffee has a lovely taste all its own and it spoils it to put cream and sugar in.”

“Why, that’s exactly how I think! What a coincidence,” I said.

“Yes, isn’t it?” he said dryly.

I gave him the mug of coffee and we sat in friendly silence for a moment or two. “Frodo,” I said, “can I ask you something?”

“My dear Vison, this is your fantasy! Do as you like.”

“What are you really like? I mean, really, just you, Frodo. Alone and nameless, like Bombadil said.”

“Oh, it’s awfully early in the morning for such a deep question,” he said. “I’m just what you think I am, Vison. You know an awful lot about me, you know. Think of the number of times you’ve read Mr. Tolkien’s book!”

“But, Frodo, the book doesn’t really tell me much about you, when it comes right down to it. I mean, Tolkien described you, and I thought the description was pretty detailed and yet here you are and you don’t look much like I thought. And I didn’t know until just now that you like your coffee black. I don’t know if you like your toast pale or dark, if you like marmalade better than jam. I don’t know if you have any icky little personal habits, or if you are always the perfect gentleman!”

“Of course you do! You know all that stuff, Vison. Come on, look into your imagination! See me? I’m over there. No, over here. See?”

“Oh, don’t mess with my head like that!” I pleaded, but I was laughing. “So you’re saying that you’re whatever I want you to be?”

“Exactamundo, my dear. I am what you think I am.” Then he sighed. “But I’m also what your friend Anborn thinks, and Diamond Took and Varda and Primula and all the rest! There are as many Frodo Bagginses as there are people who read Mr. Tolkien’s books or who see Peter Jackson’s movies! Some of them think I’m a hero and some of them don’t. Some of them think I’m a wimp and some of them think I’m the toughest Hobbit that ever set a hairy foot to Middle Earth. You know that old science fiction proposition about infinite universes? The idea that every time you make a choice a universe opens up just for that choice, but the other choice has its universe too?”

“Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhh!” I moaned. “I wish I could consult our poor old Arrarat! But yes, I sorta know what you mean, Frodo.”

“Wow,” he said. “I never really saw anyone’s eyes actually spin like that before!”

“So what you’re saying is, we’re all right about you? There is no ‘definitive’ Frodo Baggins?”

“Of course there isn’t!” he said. “How could there be? Where, for instance, did I come from today?”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea,” I confessed. “I came in and here you were, fully formed and rarin’ to go, so to speak.”

“I came out of your head, Vison. I am a figment of your imagination, and no more. Oh, I know the bare bones of me are in that ratty old copy of ‘Lord of the Rings’ that’s sitting over there under the Silmarillion. But you are the one who has fleshed me out. You are the one who’s putting these words in my mouth. You have spent years imagining me, and building me out of your own dreams and desires and wishes and fears, clothing me in your notions of romance and chivalry and courage! I’m not the Frodo Baggins I was the first time you read the book, am I?”

“Heavens no! Holy cats, that was a long time ago, even by the reckoning of those of ancient houses….”

He laughed. “Whatever. Don’t start quoting the sacred text to me, Vison, or I’ll make mincemeat out of you. I know every word, every letter, every dot over every ‘i’. And what’s more, I know the movie inside and out, too! I even know all the stuff that’s going to be in the extended edition of ‘The Return of the King’.”

“I don’t suppose you’d, ah, tell me some of that stuff, would you?” I asked.

“Great Scott, no! Vison, you should know better than to ask anything like that.” He sighed again. (This Frodo was quite the sigher, as you will have observed.) “And anyway, I’m not real fond of me in the movie, you know.”

It was my turn to sigh. “ I’m not surprised to hear that, Frodo.”

“No, that’s not how I saw myself. But then, Peter made the movie to suit his own ideas, you see, not mine.”

“He seems to have satisfied a lot of people, just the same,” I admitted. “And I like parts of it pretty well. Of course, you’re just humouring me, anyway! You’re my Frodo, so you think like I do about the movie!”

“Now,” he said, “now you are cooking with gas, old girl. Now you understand. But speaking of humour, well, that’s one of the things I like most about the Middle Earth board.”

“Frodo, you might be infinite in number and infinite in variety, just like Cleopatra, but you are not infinitely wise. There is no joking about you! You are serious stuff! Swords have been drawn in your defense! Blood has been shed.”

“I said before, you ninny, that nothing can hurt me! I’m an imaginary character! Someone made me up! I’m like the Ghost in Dickens’ story, Vison, I could be a bit of undigested cheese.”

“Hardly. Undigested cheese, my foot! Did Tolkien even eat cheese, I wonder?” I said.

“Yes. He loved a good Wensleydale, as a matter of fact. And Cheddar.” He stood up and stretched. “What’s more, Peter Jackson is mighty fond of cheese, too. Something called Velveeta, I think. Whoops, look at the time! I gotta blast, Vison. Great talking to you.”

“Must you go, indeed?” I asked, longingly.

“I must. But fear not, mellon. For right there, right behind you, stands Samwise Gamgee, Hobbit of Hobbits. And he has quite a lot to say, too!”

Then he was gone. I turned my chair about. “Samwise!” I said. “Come in, sit down! Will you have a coffe with me?…………………