Dream Diary: “Veteran’s Day Cookout”

It was Veteran’s Day, and a crowd had gathered on the lawn beside the canal to celebrate. There was a big cookout and people on blankets. Pigeons were swimming in the canal. and if you went over to the concession building, you could buy the right to feed individual pigeons. You were then entitled to wade out into the muddy canal and hand pieces of bread to the particular pigeons whose title you had secured.

I put some Chuck Berry on the boombox and played it loud, which everyone liked. I walked over to the concession to buy title to some pigeons. Just then, a Veteran’s Funeral Parade came marching somberly down alongside the canal. Everyone stood up, took off their hats, and saluted. It was very clear that we were supposed to pay silent respect, but the Chuck Berry I had put on was still playing loudly and offensively. I couldn’t go over and turn it off without losing my place in line. The song was so upbeat that it made the procession appear ridiculous. I offended many veterans.

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Dream Diary: “Christian Books Section”

Children were sitting all over the floor. It was my job to hand out their syllabi. I was walking among them, stepping over them, trying to find children that did not already have syllabi. But nearly all of them did. So I resorted to new tactics. “Does anyone want a syllabus that has been BAPTIZED?” I said.

After a few minutes of doing this and a positive response from the children, I became very uncomfortable, because I realized a preacher was standing nearby and that the concept of baptizing a syllabus was probably offensive.

But the preacher was distracted. He was complaining to the children that few of them seemed interested in the Christian books section at the campus bookstore, and that the Christian books section was now full of books that had nothing to do with Christianity.

 

Dream Diary: “The Constituents”

I was being strapped into what was referred to as the “go-kart” (it was more like an electric wheelchair.) Elizabeth Warren despised go-karting, but had committed to regularly driving one among her constituents in order to show how much she liked it. Today I was playing Elizabeth Warren so that she didn’t have to.

I drove through the streets, avoiding obstacles and giving a senatorial wave. When I arrived at the picnic tents, it was unclear how many people thought I was Elizabeth Warren and how many knew I was myself. I sensed that most people believed I was her, but that elites and other senators saw through me

I bantered with the constituents.

“I started wearing velvet because I was losing my hair. My wife said it would fix it,” said a middle-aged man.

“And just look at you now!” I joked, pointing at his bald head. Everyone laughed. The man looked very sad.

Senator Blumenthal pulled me aside.

“Listen, you little pissant, I know what you’re up to.”

“Senator, I’m afraid I don’t know who you are,” I said, grinning. He couldn’t press the point, because he knew that I knew his father (his son’s grandfather) had been a Soviet collaborator.

* * * *

We prisoners of war were being kept in Hitler’s apartment. It was the last days of the war, and Hitler only had control of a small sector of Berlin in the blocks around his apartment. We never saw Hitler, though, and our guards were clearly unenthused about their jobs, letting us freely plot various escape plans.

I helped the guinea pig to escape by tossing her out the window. But she came back.

“How will I escape?” she said.

Through the window,” I replied, exasperated after having already shown her.

“There’s nothing for a guinea pig out there,” she said wistfully.

After going for a walk to survey some recent bomb-damage, Ryan Cooper returned to the apartment with hundreds of toys, in giant sacks. I told him the toys were useless, that we wouldn’t be able to take toys with us when we escaped.

“Berlin is full of them,” he said.

 

Dream Diary: “Santa Monica”

I came out to Hollywood and wangled a meeting with Steve Martin. He met me in his office, asked me to take a seat (though he himself stood).

“I’m here to encourage you to direct another film,” I said.

“Hah. They all want me to make movies again. But I tell them: art is my passion now.”

“You’re depriving the world.”

“Art, my boy.”

We continued to discuss it with no progress. He said my words were cheap parodies of things every other fan had said to him.

“I can help you, you know. I can write 200 jokes in a single night. Look.” I handed him a sheet with jokes I had written.

“There are only five jokes on this sheet,” he said.

He paused. “Do you know the kind of return I can get on an investment in art?”

“Films make money too, Mr. Martin.” And with that, having gotten the last word, I stormed out the door.

 

Dream Diary: “The Alligator Restaurant”

The Alligator Restaurant was a terrible idea.

As customers entered, they had to walk down a long hall with a live alligator walking behind them. The hallway was only wide enough for one, so they could not stand aside and let the alligator pass.

In the restaurant itself, the tables floated in alligator-infested waters. The seats were separate from the tables, and were top heavy, so they bobbed unsteadily. One had to be very careful in order to keep the seat upright.

The idea of the restaurant was that diners could toss scraps of meat from their plates into the water, and watch the alligators eat them. But this made the alligators stay very close to the tables, and they were aggressively hungry.

Dream Diary: “A Christmas Story”

I was sitting in a comfortable leather chair in a high-ceilinged Georgian-style hotel, quietly reading a book. Nobody else was in the lobby, except a man in the other leather chair. He wore a trilby, then didn’t, had owl-glasses and was slovenly and unshaven. He kept loudly hacking up phlegm.

I continued to read, then noticed the man had come and sat on the arm of my chair. He smelled revolting, had grocery bags everywhere. He began sniffing me.

“Hey!” I said.

“Fuck you,” he said. Then he tried to put his hands down my shirt.

“What are you doing?” I exclaimed.

“I can do this,” he said. Then he hacked a ball of phlegm onto my exposed arm.

“Oh god, you’re disgusting,” I said.

“Fuck you,” he said. Then he began slapping me. I pushed him away.

“That’s assault,” he said.

“No it isn’t,” I said.

“Your keys are in my phlegm,” he said. I looked over at the stage behind the chairs, and realized my keys were sitting on it, caked in phlegm.

“Ew ew ew!” I said. I went over and started trying to dry them on my shirt. My hands got all phlegmy.

“What do you think you’re doing??” I said.

“Fuck you,” he said.

At that moment, a silver-haired, birdlike man in a sweater vest, a rolled up New Yorker under his arm, wandered into the lobby. I started to try to tell him what happened. He gave a disbelieving look. I looked at my assailant, who was fiddling with his grocery bags. I realized he could just deny everything. I would sound insane.

But it was not so. He immediately came over and started slapping me again, in front of the New Yorker reader, whose name was Carrol.

“Oh, I see,” said Carrol, as he watched the man phlegmily slap me, hacking all the time.

The man stopped.

“I’m going to call the police on you,” he said. I was flabberghasted.

“You’ll call the police? How well do you think that will go for you? I have a witness!” I could still feel his phlegm all over my hands.

“I’m calling them,” he said, nonchalant.

I turned to the birdlike man in the sweater vest. “Listen, Carrol, would you mind sticking around to help me sort this out?”

“Not at all, he’s the rudest man I’ve ever met.”

Carrol and I went into the lavishly-decorated bathroom together.

When we came out, the man walked up to us.

“The police are here. Now you’ll get it.” I couldn’t wait to start telling them what he had done to me.

Two hotel police officers came out, dressed in forest-green pinstripe blazers and black neckties. The dark-haired one asked what was going on. I began to explain, but he stopped me.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll take this gentleman aside and have him give a statement.” The dark-haired one took Carrol aside and began asking him questions, leaving me with the other officer and the man.

“Describe it,” said my officer, moving closer to me.

I began to tell my story. The officer came closer. He was inches from my face. I noticed he had owl-like glasses and was unshaven.

I became nervous. The officer began sniffing me. Then he put his hand in my shirt, and I realized.

“Oh god! Carrol!” I screamed. “He’s one of his RELATIVES!” It was too late. The officer and the man both descended on me, and began hacking and groping….

I don’t know how, but they later ended up producing a big-budget film version of what happened. It was called A Christmas Story and they added a whole family-friendly dimension and marketed it for the holidays. It flopped, because by the time it was released the crucial 56 minutes of the film had leaked online and been watched by everyone.

 

Dream Diary: “Four Fragments”

Had a lengthy discussion with a man from Africa on the difference between a hammerhead shark and an actual hammer. My chief point was that there is a hunting licensure regime covering the murder of hammerhead sharks, but no such regime covering murder with hammers.

* * * *

PJ and I sat in the grass overturning snails to see which was the largest. Each was larger than the previous one until we were overturning snails at least two feet long. Many turned out to be dead when we turned them over.

* * * *

Lauren told me what she had been doing. It mainly involved being conscripted into “violent modeling.” “Like a stiletto through the eye and such.”

* * * *

The girls in the ward tittered as the two nurses offered me lotion. I said I wouldn’t mind lotion, and the nurses rubbed it on my clothes.

 

Dream Diary: “Tiffany”

Sitting outdoors at the outdoor indoor cafe (the outdoors was also indoors), I saw a cafe that looked better across the path. I was impressed mainly by the fact that it had an impressive revolving door in the shape of a tin of espresso powder. (The irony being that they did not appear to serve coffee.)

However, all of the menus were filthy with other people’s food.

Coming back outside, I saw a tussle going on. An older lady was trying to make sure that an old man used his crutches and not his cane. Whenever she let him get near his cane, he leapt for it and she had to grab it away.

I looked down at my phone. Lauren had sent me a photo of herself in my bathtub, covered in spaghetti, to prove she was better off without me.

As the old man continued to struggle, his daughter (who was clearly on his side) gave me a wink.

“Oh look, it’s Tiffany!” said the daughter. The man and woman stopped their tussling and looked over.

I realized what was up and that I needed quickly to play the part of Tiffany. I did not have any makeup or feminine clothes, so I just had to act so well that she would assume them onto me. This I accomplished handily.

“Tiffany will regale us on the piano, won’t you, Tiffany?” I did not know how to play the Piano.

“Er, certainly.”

I took my seat at the piano, petrified. I began to stall with a monologue, the kind I had seen lounge pianists entertain audiences with.

“You know, every so often, a man and women, well, that’s a special thing, you know? And we’re all in some ways special, there’s something about each and every one of us. I know I used to think so. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always seen the stars behind people’s backs…”

My monologue dragged on interminably. Eventually I had to begin singing. I sang a cappella, as if I was performing the introduction to a song where the piano part would eventually come on. Several times I arrived at a point in the song where the piano probably would have started, but I continued not to play. Eventually I arrived at the point where the piano had to come in, and I tried to make it last as long as possible.

“Becauuuuusee what loooooveeeee is abouuuuuuut iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiss….” I dragged the “is” out for about thirty seconds. I gave hand motions to encourage . But instead of continuing to sign and bringing the piano in, I simply went back into monologue. “….well, love’s a kind of melange, isn’t it? It’s a fricasse into which all things are put? None of us experiences love in the same way. Love is what it is, love is a .” I vowed that if I could make them laugh, I would finally pursue the career in stand-up that I had always wanted. None of them laughed.

Eventually I sang a few more bars and then trailed off. I didn’t even touch the piano. My performance was dreadful. I slunk away.

* * * *

I went up the steps to the Officers’ Drinks Lounge. “Drinks” was embossed on the glass door under a picture of Lord Kitchener (“Millage Entrance other side” was added below in a paper sign). The lounge was in a large colonial house with a wraparound porch. There were palm trees everywhere. As I entered, a officer in full uniform with epaulets was coming out. I paid him no attention. When he got to the steps, he turned around and barked loudly at me:

“Did you forget something?” I didn’t think I had, but at this moment I realized I was a private.

“Oh, sorry. Aye-aye, sir!” This was the standard respectful greeting to officers. I accompanied it with the mandatory salute.

“That’s much better.”

“Sorry about that, sir.”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

“Oh, er, I mean, Sir, sorry about that, Sir.” Every statement to an officer was required to both begin and end with ‘sir.’ To be precise, I should have said “Sir, oh, er, I mean, Sir, sorry about that, Sir.” (Though a casual reading of the rule may make it appear otherwise, two sirs at the end are not technically necessary to conform with the rule.)

“Much better.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ahem.”

“Sir, yes sir.”

“And why aren’t you in uniform, private?”

“Sir, I’m only here to deliver this telegram, sir.” I held up the telegram.

“Give it to me.”

I gave it to him.

* * *

I was walking down a road through a lush valley, an elderly couple next to me. Every so often, at the side of the road, there would be a chain-link fence around where the land had been stripped for mining. The lanes on the road were busy, and lanes were added and dropped out with frequency. I was looking for the correct u-turn point, and surveying the mining areas to see where the mining regulations would go. The older man was a right-winger and hated my work, his wife worked for the government and was a liberal. He wore a white suit, cane, panama hat, Hemingway beard. They spent the whole walk antagonizing one another.

“Of course, nobody can enforce a regulation neutrally, that’s why they’re ultimately impossible,” he grumbled.

“Not every job is political,” I said.

“Of course it is!” he replied indignantly.

“What about a job handing out pencils,” she asked “Is that political?”

“No,” he said. “That would not be political.”