The little man used to sit on the powder room radiator and chat with me while I was tending to business on the toilet. He looked very much like a leprechaun or an elf and stood about three inches high. As a child, I was delighted to have this companion who would appear whenever I wanted his company. When I asked his name, he said it was Peepeewahoo. He said it so fast with an Elfish accent that I was never certain if it was P. P. Wahoo or all one word. It was easier to roll it off my tongue if I said it as a one-word name, Peepeewhaoo. I never did find out the meaning or significance of the name. Some have suggested it had Native American roots.
Nevertheless, Peepeewahoo was a character. He usually wore a plaid shirt and brown knickers. Sometimes he sported orange suspenders, and he always wore a hat with a tassel. On certain occasions he would appear with a cane even though he was very spritely and obviously did not need it as a walking aid. It did cross my mind a few times that the cane could have been a magic wand. After all, Peepeewahoo could appear in the time it took me to rip a piece of toilet paper off the roll.
As a child who was born with a hearing impairment, I was often ignored or rejected by my peers. I was also an only child, so I spent lots of time alone while I was growing up. An avid reader, I possessed an active and wild imagination. I would invent my own games and create elaborate kingdoms fueled by the magical legends I read in my World Book Literature Series. So as a lonely and highly-creative child, it was not too surprising when Peepeewahoo became a part of my life.
Lively conversations ensued in that tiny downstairs powder room. Sometimes, between reading Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, performing my “business,” and having philosophical discussions with Peepeewahoo, I would be in session for a half hour or more. When I reappeared my parents would humorously ask, “To whom were you speaking?” They knew all about Peepeewhaoo, and it was not unusual for them to ask me what he was up to. I think my adventures with the little man were a great source of entertainment to them.
Not only was Peepeewahoo the premier bathroom companion and eclectic philosopher, he was an adventuresome soul who fearlessly accompanied me on my forays into the deepest recesses of my imagination. Equestrian pursuits, hacking trails in the local woods, building hiding places, and planning mythological explorations were just a few of the experiences we shared.
Peepeewahoo’s eventual disappearance from my life was gradual. Fewer and fewer were his visits. It was almost like a reverse osmosis, a gradual breaking of the ties that bound us. That little man was a wise one, stepping back little by little as I matured and became more adept socially and better able to handle the challenges of being a child with a hearing loss. And one day I realized he was gone.