We all know him. We love him with all our heart as children. But until recently, there’s a truth I had missed, for it was hidden like he has been all those years in my youth. Waldo is crippled.
I noticed the cane for the first time last week. A friend showed me the front cover of one of his books, and I saw the walking aid, telling me this poor man was stuck. He was a sad story of malfunctioning legs long before Bran.
Everything made sense to me. He was the greatest chameleon ever, hiding from diabolical assassins. His guise is to keep him alive, since he can’t run, fleeing from the killers hot on his trail. You’ve noticed it, no doubt.
He wears exactly what’s required to look like everyone else and to blend in to his surroundings. Never has he moved in the past several decades. He’s stuck in that one spot. You rebuke me with “But he’s smiling”?!
The smile plastered on this cartoon man’s face is not one of legitimate pleasure and joy. He is not, in fact, excited about the gathering around him. He smiles to blend in. He has conquered his fear. He smiles because everyone looks for the frown, the freaked out kid in the corner, and while it’s sad that child may be sacrificed for Waldo’s greater good, we’re helping an icon.
So the next time your child gets a Waldo book, tell them the story. Mourn for the difficulties of this childhood icon. And love him fully, for one day you’ll look at the page, and Waldo will be gone. The killers will have found him. And you’ll find him no longer, no matter how hard you look. Stay strong, Waldo. We’re here for you.