Clubius Incarnate Part 28 – Felix (November 1959)

I felt some cold on my nose so I opened my eyes. The wind was blowing outside and the window by my bed creaked. It wasn’t nighttime any more but there was no sunshine, just gray light outside that barely came into my bedroom. The rest of my body felt warm and cozy under the covers.

I looked at my big plastic clock that I got last Christmas, and the little hand was almost at the “8” and the big hand was between the “9” and the “10”. David’s bed was empty. He usually got up before I did. I could hear mom in the kitchen. I wondered if I would go to Play School again today, or if this was that “end” day when I didn’t go to school but all those “cartoons” were on TV. One of those cartoons could be Felix. That was the one I liked the best. I could hear the woman singing the Felix song in my head…

Felix the cat
The wonderful wonderful cat
Whenever he gets in a fix
He reaches into his bag of tricks

Felix the cat
The wonderful wonderful cat
You laugh so much your sides will ache
Your heart will go pitter pat
Watching Felix, the wonderful cat

I sat up in my bed. I looked at the clock again. I was finally remembering that I had to “wind” that thing in the back so it would keep working. I pulled down the bottom part of my pajamas and unbuttoned the top part and pulled it off my arms. I liked being naked. My “penis” thing felt good when no clothes were touching it, and I could feel the air between my legs. But mom would get mad at me if I didn’t put clothes on. I figured it was being silly not to have clothes on, and grownups did not like being silly, except at parties, and even then they kept their clothes on.

You were supposed to put on underwear before your pants. I’m not sure why, because once your pants were on no one could see your underwear. Crazy grownups said all these things you were supposed to do! I didn’t want mom and dad to have to worry about me, and maybe not let me do so much by myself, so I put on underwear, then my pants, then my socks. Since I wasn’t going outside, I didn’t have to put on my shoes, which was good because then I didn’t have to ask mom or dad to tie them. I was still trying to figure out how to tie them myself but couldn’t do it yet.

Then I put on that big heavier blue shirt that had the yellow “Michigan” word on the front. It felt good because it was bigger and I could sort of move around inside it, and it didn’t squeeze me like some of my other shirts.

Mom and dad liked it when I wore that shirt, which they called a “sweatshirt”, though I don’t know why. When I wasn’t wearing it, dad might say, “Why don’t you wear your Michigan sweatshirt?”. Or mom might say, “I washed your Michigan sweatshirt, if you’d like to wear that one.” So if I decided BY MYSELF to put on that shirt, then they REALLY liked it, because Michigan was their team, and when I put it on, they felt like I was part of their team too. I wondered if there were some things they let me do when I had it on that they might not let me do if I had on a regular shirt.

I was never REALLY part of THEIR team, because I was a kid, and we had our OWN team, but we didn’t tell the grownups that. It wasn’t a “secret war” like that kid at that nursery school wanted to fight against the girls. But it was a “secret team”. Molly liked the idea, and so did Danny and James. I’m sure Ricky would like it too, but I didn’t see him very much, and when I did, there were grownups around so I couldn’t tell him about it. I didn’t tell Kenny, because I was worried he’d tell his parents and then it we’d get in trouble and it wouldn’t be secret anymore.

I ran into the kitchen, my feet sliding on the floor because of the socks. David was sitting in his special “highchair”, banging his spoon on his bowl. When he saw me he stopped, and said “coo” over and over again. He was trying to say my name, but could only say the first part. So I said “day, day, day” to him.

“Morning Cloobster”, mom said, then looking at me, “Are you making fun of your brother?”

I looked back at her and shook my head. I was just trying to let him know I knew what he was trying to say.

“Am I going to Play School today?” I asked. I was asking mom and dad a lot more questions now and finding out all kinds of interesting stuff so I could do more things I wanted to do.

“Nope”, she said, “Today is Saturday. It’s the weekend. School is closed today so the teachers can have time for themselves. Maybe go to the big game today. Wish we could go! Maybe next year!”

“And look”, she said, making that big smile with her lips and teeth, “You’re wearing your Michigan sweatshirt. Go Blue!” She raised her hand, made a fist and moved it back and forth.

I nodded. She could pretend I was on her team, but I would never tell her or dad about our secret team.

I dropped down on my knees in front of the little doors where we kept the Cheerios inside on the shelf.

“Doesn’t it hurt when you throw yourself on the floor like that?” I shook my head as I opened the doors and reached in for the big yellow box.

“I know you like to race around”, she said, “But be careful going down the basement stairs when you’re just wearing socks, you don’t want to slip and break your neck!”

I nodded, putting the Cheerios box on the kitchen table. Mom and Molly’s mom were always worried about people breaking their necks. I figured it would be a lot easier to break your head because it was sticking out. I dropped back down on my knees and got a bowl from that same shelf. Mom put that stuff there so I could get it by myself and didn’t have to ask them for help. If only I could figure out how to tie my shoes.

“In a hurry to watch cartoons at eight o’clock?” she asked. I nodded, as I poured the tiny round things into my bowl and filled it up.

“Figuring out how to tell time on your clock?” I nodded again, opening the refrigerator and reaching for the milk. I could just get it.

“Do you have a cartoon you like best?”

“Felix”, I said, opening the milk carton and pouring milk into my bowl. The round things started to rise up and some of them fell over the edge of the bowl on the table, and I wondered if she’d get mad at me. But she didn’t, maybe because I was wearing that Michigan shirt.

“I like the song”, she said, and she started to sing it, moving her head back and forth, “Felix the cat, the wonderful wonderful cat.”

Then she stopped and said, “If only I could sing like your dad! Life isn’t fair Coolie!” I ate spoonfuls of Cheerios and nodded.

“So Felix is Poindexter’s BABYSITTER?” she asked. I nodded, still chewing.

“And Poindexter is the Professor’s son?” I really wasn’t completely sure about that but I nodded anyway. I liked the feel of the little round things in my mouth. Some were warm, dry and crunchy, and others were cooler, wet and mushy.

“And the Professor is the BAD guy?” I nodded and swallowed all the Cheerios in my mouth so I could say something.

“Sometimes he’s the badguy”, I said, “Sometimes he’s okay if there’s a different badguy.” I put another big mouthful of Cheerios into my mouth.

“Sweetie”, she said, “Remember to eat with your mouth closed!” I nodded, and finished eating and drank the rest of the milk in the bowl. I got up and ran toward the basement door, but mom stepped in front of me.

“Woah there, speedster”, she said, patting me on the shoulders, “I know you want to run your own life, and that’s good. But if you are running your own life, and your personal servant is not around, and you leave the milk out and cereal spilled on the table, what’s going to happen, eh? That milk is going to spoil and taste really sour, and there’ll be ants crawling all over the table dining on those Cheerios you left spilled on the table, and you’re not going to be able to have your favorite breakfast at the kitchen table anymore.”

I blew air out of my mouth.

“My sentiments exactly”, she said. “Do you remember what you need to do if you’re going to run your own life?”

I nodded. The Michigan shirt didn’t help me with this one! I put the milk back in the fridge and went to the sink and reached for the sponge and took it over to the table. I looked at my empty bowl and a bunch of Cheerios on the table.

“Your challenge”, she said, “Is to get your spilled Cheerios and that bowl into yonder sink. When you get a bit older and taller I’ll teach you how to wash your own dishes. What’s your strategy, young breakfaster?” She smiled and opened her eyes really big.

I put the bowl under the edge of the table and used the sponge to sweep the Cheerios into it. Then I took the bowl over and put it by the side of the sink.

“Good enough for now”, she said, “That’s a BIG help. Thank you! Now put the Cheerios back and you’re good to go. Felix awaits.”

I did, and then hurried down the stairs to the basement. I still did it pretty fast even though my socks were kind of slippery. That’s the way I really liked going down and up stairs, really fast, and I did not want mom to think she could change that. Some things I would do differently so they wouldn’t worry about me, but not that!

The TV was already on. Dad was using the typewriter at his desk.

“I turned on the TV for you”, he said, “Changed it to channel two for the cartoons.”

I nodded, and figured, though I could have done all that myself, I should say something too.

“Thanks dad!” It felt strange to say the “thanks” word, like I was pretending to be a grownup. He nodded, held his hand up and pointed a finger at the ceiling, and went back to typing.

That pretend tiger guy was on the TV saying, “THEY’RE GREAT!” He wanted you to get those Frosted Flakes.

Then there was a different picture of Cheerios going across the screen and then falling into a bowl that was filling up. A grownup man’s voice said…

Cheerios, made from oats, nature’s most nutritious cereal grain, toasted gold and crisp for a specially delicious toasted oat flavor. And a power breakfast gives you power protein to help you grow strong, and energy vitamin B1 that gives you GO POWER.

There was a picture of a pretend boy flying up the side of a mountain with his hand out in a fist, and now a woman’s voice singing…

He’s got pow, pow, power

Then as a giant rock rolled down toward the boy the man said…


The boy’s fist smashed the big rock into smaller rocks, and a woman sang…

He’s feeling his Cheerios

Finally the boy landed on the top of the mountain, stuck a flag into the ground and sang…

If you know your oats you know you’ll go
For the power breakfast… Cheerios

The picture changed. Then that familiar music started with the tooting sound. The Felix letters appeared on the screen, one after another each with a different color and a bonging sound. And finally the woman’s voice sang that song that I kept hearing in my head…

Felix the cat
The wonderful wonderful cat
Whenever he gets in a fix
He reaches into his bag of tricks

And then the picture changed to the black circle of Felix smiling as she continued to sing. I heard dad singing along as he typed at his desk. If Margie were here, she’d probably be singing AND dancing…

Felix the cat
The wonderful wonderful cat
You laugh so much your sides will ache
Your heart will go pitter pat
Watching Felix, the wonderful cat

Then the picture changed to that building with the round top that I knew was the Professor’s “laboratory”, and then showed the inside where Poindexter was mixing stuff in those tube things and Felix was sitting in a big chair reading something…

Poindexter: (Mixing chemicals) Look mister Felix, I just discovered a new element.

Felix: (Sitting in easy chair reading) That’s nice. A new element? What is it?

Poindexter: Dry water.

Felix: What good is dry water?

Poindexter: So I can wash my neck without getting it wet.

I knew from watching other Felix cartoons that Felix was Poindexter’s babysitter, like Margie was for David and me. The Professor, who used to be a badguy, was now just a regular grownup who was like Poindexter’s dad, but they called him “uncle”, a word I’d heard before but wasn’t sure what it meant. Margie had to do a lot of stuff for David, but not so much for me. Felix didn’t have to do much for Poindexter, unless Poindexter got in trouble, which he always did.

Professor: (Entering door to laboratory) Poindexter, Stop playing with those dangerous chemicals!

Poindexter: But what can I do, uncle?

Professor: Do anything. Look at the stars. (Leaves the room)

Poindexter: (Looking out window) Hmm. There is Mars. I wonder what the Master Cylinder is doing tonight?

Then the picture changed to Mars where the new badguy Master Cylinder was, and his helper badguy, General Clang, both looking at a bunch of rocket ships behind them.

Master Cylinder: (Mad) The rocket ships at my command, and no rocket fuel powerful enough to invade the Earth.

General Clang: I have plan to get super rocket fuel formula.

Master Cylinder: Nonsense! The secret of that formula is locked in the brain of the Earth man Poindexter.

They were both kind of silly, but it was a cartoon, so I guess that was okay. Master Cylinder was one of those “robot” guys, a machine that could talk and figure out things and do stuff. He looked like a big can with eyes and arms but no legs. General Clang was a Martian I think, shaped like a blob. Molly said that Ricky said that though General Clang was a Martian, he talked funny like one of those Russian guys from the Soviet Union.

General Clang: Precisely master! (Turns on a robot version of Poindexter)

Helper badguys called the main badguy “master”, while helper goodguys called the main goodguy “sir”. General Clang had made a robot that looked kind of like Poindexter, but also kind of like a machine. Molly said that Ricky said that if we made real robots they would figure out how to take over the Earth.

Master Cylinder: Poindexter! (Robot Poindexter walks briefly but then breaks, falls down, and a spring comes out of his back) What’s wrong?

General Clang: Just minor adjustments master. (Fixes robot)

Master Cylinder: Why it’s a robot!

General Clang: Yes master, and I have even greater invention. The Telexchanger. A design to exchange objects at great distances.

I liked all the “inventions” in the Felix cartoons. The Professor and Poindexter made a bunch of them, but so did the badguys. I could use some of the inventions in my own pretend stories, like that “changer” thing, but also robots, which could be made out of Tinker Toys.

General Clang: First I put fake Poindexter in here. Tune in location to the real Poindexter. (Robot Poindexter disappears and real Poindexter appears)

General Clang: Poindexter in Flesh!

Poindexter: Where? Where? Where am I?

Master Cylinder: Welcome to Mars, Poindexter!

Poindexter: But what happened to mister Felix?

Yep. Poindexter was in trouble again. I wondered what Felix would do now! The picture went back to Felix in the Professor’s laboratory, still sitting in the chair reading.

Felix: Okay Poindexter, it’s your bedtime! (Robot Poindexter walks but doesn’t say anything) Poindexter, speak to me! (Robot falls over and breaks again) This must be the work of Master Cylinder!

The picture changed back to Mars. I liked the way in Felix cartoons it changed from one place to a completely different place, and then back again, really quickly…

Master Cylinder: And now, get to work on that rocket fuel formula, Poindexter!

Poindexter: Sorry, no deal!

Master Cylinder: WHAT?

Poindexter: I’m lonesome. I want my babysitter, Felix.

Master Cylinder: Felix? Not THAT pest!

General Clang: Uh Master, look! (Shows him Felix ragdoll)

Master Cylinder: Felix the cat?

Poindexter: A rather poor imitation of him!

The pretend Felix didn’t look like a robot, but like one of those pretend animal toys that little kids have…

General Clang: It will do, watch! (Puts Felix ragdoll in Telexchanger)

Back in the Professor’s laboratory, that toy Felix was in the chair and the robot Poindexter had fallen on the floor and broke again. Then the Professor comes back in and sees all that stuff…

Professor: Felix? What happened to Poindexter? (Examining ragdoll and robot) Poindexter a robot and Felix a ragdoll! What happened?

Back on Mars, the real Felix appeared in that changer thing…

Felix: Poindexter. Where are we!

Poindexter: We’re on Mars mister Felix.

Felix: Mars? I don’t understand!

Poindexter: We were brought here with this Telexchanger. Back on Earth, we are dummies.

Felix: But why?

I liked it that Felix asked why, and was thinking that maybe I should start doing that too.

Poindexter: The Master Cylinder wants me to work on the super rocket fuel.

Felix: I get it. So he can invade the Earth! That’s the reason for all those rocket ships!

That was interesting! Badguy martians “invading” the Earth. Dad had used that “invading” word when he talked about World War Two. That was when you tried to take over a place and be in charge instead of the regular people who were in charge. That would be fun to play in the basement, with one part being Earth and another part being Mars. The gray soldiers could be Martians. Or maybe play at Play School, though the teachers didn’t like us playing war stuff. Danny said that if Martians invaded the Earth we would have to shoot nuclear bombs at them with rockets.

Master Cylinder: Enough of this chit chat! Poindexter, get to work in the laboratory while we show Felix the sights!

Poindexter: Okay. See you soon mister Felix.

Poindexter went inside Master Cylinder’s laboratory, which looked different than the Professor’s, but I guess that made sense since he was a robot and it was on Mars. Now I figured the badguys would try to do something bad to Felix, but it wouldn’t work.

Master Cylinder: Well Felix. You asked for it. Grab him General!

Felix: No you don’t! (Runs away)

Master Cylinder: Let him go, General. If he doesn’t starve, the talking rocks will drive him crazy!

Master Cylinder looked at Felix in one of those “telescope” things. James’ dad had one and we looked at the moon when it was nighttime. You saw a circle with a picture of the real moon in it only bigger. James’ older brother had some of those tube things for doing experiments like Poindexter did, but James wasn’t supposed to play with them because he wasn’t old enough. James and I liked to talk about Felix whenever we played together, and the next time I was also going to have us play Martians invading the Earth.

On TV there was a circle with black all around it showing Felix walking over rocks inside the circle. Then it was just a regular picture of Felix walking on rocks…

Felix: Gee, what a place. Nothing but rocks.

Voice: Cheer up Felix!

Felix: Who said that?

Rock with face: I did!

Felix: You? A rock? Talking?

Rock with face: Not a rock. A Martian. We’re in disguise. What’s your problem?

That was interesting, being “in disguise”. They were pretending to be rocks, but the badguys thought they really WERE rocks. Being “in disguise” was a different kind of pretending. I thought about when Molly and I pretended that we had disappeared, when we hid in the spruce tree in the backyard, but mom and dad thought that we really disappeared and got worried. And then when they found us, mom was so mad that she went to the hospital and David was born.

Felix: How can I rescue Poindexter, mister Martian?

Rock with face: Hmm. Let me think… I’ve got it. (Hands Felix rock with opening) Here!

Felix: A rock suit!

Rock with face: Put it on.

Felix: (Climbing into suit and closing it over him) How do I look?

Rock with face: A perfect fit. Now move cautiously.

Felix: (Rolls away looking like a rock) Thanks!

So there were goodguy Martians too. That was interesting. And it was like they were fighting a “secret war” against Master Cylinder and that badguy Martian, because they were “in disguise”. Maybe at school we could pretend that goodguy Martians come to Earth in their rocket ships to help us and not invade us.

Then the picture showed the inside part of Master Cylinder’s laboratory. Poindexter was mixing stuff in those tube things, but then it exploded, and Poindexter was exploded up in the air. Poindexter was always blowing things up. Then there was a picture of Master Cylinder who looked worried…

Master Cylinder: (Frustrated) Another explosion. We’ll never get that super rocket fuel!

So Poindexter fell down right on top of Felix in his rock suit and broke the suit so it was just Felix again…

Felix: Poindexter, are you all right?

Poindexter: Yes, mister Felix. But look!

Now there were a bunch of those rocks rolling down a hill…

Felix: The rocks are rolling!

General Clang: (Pointing) Look master. Rocks!

The goodguy Martians in their rock suits were attacking Master Cylinder and General Clang.

Master Cylinder: A landslide! Let’s run!

General Clang: I’ll save you, master. (Picking up Master Cylinder and running with him)

Felix: Look at them go! Good old Martians!

I guess the goodguy Martians figured out how to get rid of the badguys, by doing that “landslide” thing. I could do a “landslide” down the basement stairs using tennis balls. I could build a fort at the bottom of the stairs with soldiers in it and see if it got wrecked.

So Felix and Poindexter got back in that “changer” thing and disappeared. Then the picture showed the Professor looking worried at the robot Poindexter and toy Felix in HIS laboratory.

Professor: I can’t understand it.

Then while the Professor was still worrying, the robot Poindexter and toy Felix disappeared and the real ones appeared.

Poindexter: Is anything wrong uncle?

Felix: Yes Professor, you look worried.

Professor: Oh no! THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!

The whole thing made the Professor crazy! He fell down on the floor and moved his legs back and forth in the air. And it ended like all Felix cartoons did, with Felix putting his hands on his sides and laughing.

Felix: Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha

It was interesting that Felix laughed not because things were funny or silly, but because he had figured everything out and helped beat the badguys.

I looked at dad and he was watching the end of the cartoon too.

“Felix triumphs yet again!” he said, and then swung his chair around and went back to typing.

I sat on the floor thinking about Felix while the TV showed a different cartoon. He was really interesting. He didn’t invent things like Tom Swift did. But what he did do was that he always figured out the bad thing that was going on, then maybe worried and thought about it, but then decided the best thing to do to fix it. Maybe he’d fix it himself, or maybe he’d ask other people to help. He wasn’t really a kid, even an older kid like Margie, who was a babysitter like Felix was. But he wasn’t a grownup either, because he didn’t worry about himself like a grownup did. He just wanted to figure out what was going on and help people when they got in trouble, usually Poindexter, but sometimes he helped the Professor too. He wasn’t a real cat either. Kenny had a real cat, and that thing wasn’t anything like Felix.

I guess it was like that woman sang in the Felix song. He was a “wonderful” cat. When mom said something was “wonderful”, it was something that she liked so much it made her extra happy. Maybe that was why Felix always laughed at the end of each cartoon, because he was extra happy.

Molly liked Felix too, but I think she liked him because I liked him so much. It was the same way when I watched Sky King with her, I liked watching it with her because she liked it so much. It was fun being next to her when she really liked something. She was extra happy, and it made me happy too.

That afternoon, dad watched the Michigan team play their football game against the Ohio State team on the TV. He usually just heard some guy telling you about the game on the radio, but he said this one was on TV because it was the “big game”. I had heard other people say that they “hated” Ohio State, but dad never said that, though I could tell that he REALLY wanted Michigan to win. Mom really wanted Michigan to win too, but she only came down from upstairs a couple times to “check on the game and see what the score was.”

I tried to watch some of the game too, but I had trouble figuring out what was going on. Dad tried to tell it to me, but it just looked like a bunch of tiny people running around, stopping, and then running around again, fighting, and knocking each other down.

Sometimes dad would get mad, and yell at the TV, and use swear words like “damn it” and “what the hell”, when bad things happened to the Michigan team. Then he’d say, “Yes!”, really loud, and raise his fist, when Michigan did something good, and he wouldn’t be worried for a little while until everyone started running around again.

But finally, dad said Michigan was going to win. He seemed happy to not be worried anymore, and not have to swear anymore. He looked at me and said, “They did it, Cloob! I can’t believe it, they’re going to win!”

Then his eyes sparkled with an idea and he said, “Let’s go outside and listen to the countdown!”

He ran up the basement stairs and I ran after him. We went out the side door onto the stones of the driveway. It was cold and windy, but we didn’t put on jackets and I was just wearing my socks on my feet. There was no one around us, and the street was full of empty cars that weren’t moving, but you could hear the whoosh of faraway voices counting numbers the other way.

Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two… one

Then there was a different sort of whoosh sound, that dad said was “ninety thousand people cheering”.

I think for him it was wonderful, and made him extra happy!

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