Yes, Virginia, There Is a Ted Forth
Note: The following letter was originally printed in the Internet paper way back in 2007 and has been running annually ever since for the past 100 years. In the spirit of the season we reprint it on your screen today. Enjoy.
I take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time my great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of this site:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Ted Forth. Papa says, “If you see it in Medium Large, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Ted Forth?–Virginia O’Hanlon
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age what with all those skeptics who just skeptify all the time about this age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s or those Lego minifigs that have somehow been imbued with self-awareness and so silently scream in horror because their mouths do not move, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, a roach that you’ve never seen before in your apartment until you have guests over, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge and smartiness…smartness?…stuff.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Ted Forth. He exists as certainly as the original six-switch Atari VCS, the mighty yet perhaps culturally offensive Shogun Warriors, that Lord of the Flies commercial for Stay Alive and round after infuriating round of Mastermind, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Ted Forth! It would be as dreary as if The Magic Garden never had a Chuckle Patch, if Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings had never appeared on Captain Kangaroo and one had not spent countless, countless years wondering if The Point was a real cartoon that ran on ABC one evening or if it had been a frightening fever dream we experienced at the age of four. There would be no childlike faith then, no crumbling igloo walls made of K-Tel Snow Bloc Makers, no crying over the sad saga of Jackie Paper and no memories of swinging hard at a Johnny Bench Batter-Up only to watch your aluminum bat sail across the driveway and into your dad’s 1977 Buick Riviera (complete with CB radio) to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood–and patiently waiting for the host on Romper Room to look at her viewers through her Magic Mirror and finally call out “Francesco” along with the other kids’ names only to realize the entire world was made up of Jennifers and Davids and then later to learn you actually had to send in your name to be mentioned, which showed what a spectacular fraud not only the so-called Magic Mirror really was but the FCC in general for allowing such deception on the air–fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Ted Forth! You might as well not believe in the horrifying six-fingered hand that rose from the swamp to announce a new episode of Chiller Theater. You might get your papa to hire men to watch the WPIX Yule Log to see if it ever burns out only to realize three hours later that the footage consists of nothing more than a seven-minute sequence looped repeatedly, leaving you and your brother Marcello feeling like the biggest idiots on planet Earth. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…or understand (like Bigfoot on The Six Million Dollar Man). Were you ever able to make a reasonable nose cone for your Lego rocketship before the company finally started manufacturing those upside-down slanty pieces? Of course not, but that didn’t stop you from believing you could, even though your every spaceship looked like it sported the grill to a Greyhound bus. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world, including that eight-loop Hot Wheels orange race track (with “death jump” over Don’t Break the Ice) you long imagined but never dared see to fruition.
You rip apart a piece of Bubble Yum to see if there are really spider eggs inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart, probably because the time in which the real Virginia letter was written even strong people had fatty diets and knew not of the importance of calcium supplements. Only faith, love or a G.I. Joe Mobile Support Vehicle can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and real working search light beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. Except maybe dragons. But not the scary type. I mean the type of dragon who befriends you in song.
No Ted Forth? Thank God he lives and lives forever (though probably many of those later years as a cryogenically frozen head). A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood…or recount us with tales of letting out a high-pitched scream every time the pieces popped in Perfection.