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LEE


Jeff Tracy used to be my babysitter.

You may scoff when you read that, because Jeff Tracy, multi-gazillionaire, ex-astronaut, CEO of Tracy Enterprises, founder of International Rescue, would surely, surely not have enough time in his busy life to look after little old me. But he did because he's good like that, as anybody who knows him well will tell you. Every Saturday I would arrive on Tracy Island with my chocolate chip cookies, and Mr Tracy and his five handsome sons would keep me splendidly entertained.

Jeff's babysitting days are long gone now, but the memory of those idyllic times lives on in my memory, the Tracy men looming six incredibly masculine feet tall before my mind's eye. How that happened I'll never quite know, but what I do know is that it didn't happen only to me. Somewhere between age five and age (ahem), our collective fantasies shaped those wooden men into delightful constructs of flesh and blood, their metaphoric hearts beating steadily enough to keep us warm at night.

I want to tell you that I can clearly distinguish the line between fantasy and reality, but where Thunderbirds is concerned I truly cannot. And that started young too. For the longest time I was convinced that they weren't puppets at all -- I knew with absolute childish certainty that those faces I was falling in love with were cunningly designed masks placed over the actors' heads, because from time to time I could plainly see real hands poking out. (Thanks Gerry -- way to confuse the kids!)

My experience with fan fiction of any kind has been sporadic and experimental, to say the least, and I didn't purposely set out to write Thunderbirds fiction at all. The creature clawed its way out of my subconscious and surprised the hell out of me. I've thought about why anybody might want to write Thunderbirds fanfiction and just I don't have an answer. Sure, I could say 'because there simply weren't enough episodes to satisfy,' but it's so much more than that. It's because those little men somehow penetrated into our psyches and lodged themselves securely in our inner worlds, and we're not ready to let them die just yet.

In my quiet times I worry a bit about that. I imagine my older self in a nursing home, a drooling and gibbering wreck, lost to reality, trapped eternally on Tracy Island.

Well then. I can think of worse places.


 
 
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