Dream Diary: “Grapes”

“You’re acting like a child,” I told Paula Deen.

“That’s sexual harassment,” she replied, wrestling me to the ground.

From the corner, Wesley the Cynic made a joke about beige sedans, in reference to a racist jibe Paula had notoriously spoken the month before.

Once Paula was distracted by my removal of her toupee, Wesley and I began to devour the grapes that grew from the ceiling.

“We’ve lived here five years and never thought to eat the grapes,” I said, and we both burst into laughter.

Dream Diary: “Fame”

When a series of mishaps force me to take the school bus, I discover that my students are exceptional doo wop singers. They agree to form a group and let me be their manager. But when I forget to get off at the correct bus stop, our chance at fame is ruined.

Dream Diary: “The Tiger”

Fighting the tiger was easy. All you had to do was bop the tiger on the head, and it would turn into a man. Then if you bopped the man on the head, it would turn into a child. And if you bopped the child, it would turn into a fly (though still with the head of a child).

But it was the tiger who had the last laugh.

“Why didn’t you just turn into a tiger yourself?” he asked, and I had to admit that I did not know.

Dream Diary: “The Mountaintop”

We visit the petting zoo at the Los Angeles Railway Terminal. Getting to the terminal requires driving for hours up precarious mountain roads, so by the time we reach the zoo, we are angry and exhausted. But we see can already see the animals long before we arrive. There are ducks the size of houses, whose bills could sever a child at the waist. One animal appears to be a cross between an enormous anemone and a birthday cake. It is cream-coloured with little red bubbles, gooey to the touch, and when you try to pet it, it sucks on your hand and laughs. The zoo has many venomous snakes, which alarms me. They are in manacles, for safety, but I point out to my companions that it is easy for a snake to escape a manacle, on account of their shape. My companions tell me I am not being fun, that they don’t know why they brought me. As they turn to stroke the owls, I watch the snakes escape.

Dream Diary: “Nelson”

“I miss those days when my father was still there,” I think. “Back when we still lived in the dirigible, and we used to wave at people.”

Washington, D.C.: I remember being called to the Palace Plaza Hotel once before. I took the executive elevator from the courtyard. But that was impossible, I could not have been there before, because the only people that came here were expensive lawyers on job interviews. And why had I been summoned there now? Yet the blue ring of light around the elevator button was impossible not to forget.

When I got out at the top, I was greeted by a familiar voice, and I suddenly remembered it all. The man with the golden bowtie. He is bald, with a shriveled face. The bowtie is made from solid gold and has little black-and-white tips. It is actually more like a scarf than a bowtie. The man with the golden bowtie has been there all my life, as a sort of mentor, I think. No, wait, it was a job interview.

The man with the golden bowtie is furious with me, and now I remember why. “Over $900 was paid to you for services,” he says, “and all we received were these pictures.” He was from the Princeton Review. Some time ago, I had been given a job grading tests, and then immediately forgotten about it. Instead of sending them the graded tests, I sent them photos of cowboys.

The man sends me to live with my mother, telling me I need to prove myself. My “mother” turns out to be a schoolteacher I have never met, but I quickly accept my role as her son. My name, it turns out, is Milhouse, and I have a brother named Nelson. Nelson is cruel to me. He resents the fact that each night, as he begins to do the dishes, I am still buttering my bread.

The first time I meet my “mother,” I make her cry when she asks me if I like her sweater and I say it is too bright of an orange for my taste. When she gives me an opportunity to replay the scene, I say instead that it is “unusually soft,” which makes her talk about my father and the dirigible.

I find a job cleaning the baked bean remnants off lunch trays. I encourage my coworkers to learn the keytar with me, so that we can start a business recording radio jingles. I tell them I even know where to find a keytar: down the Very Wide Hallway.

The man with the golden bowtie and I have a fight in his office. I tell him he cannot find me, and he insists correctly that he can. I know he has my best interests at heart.
At a beach party, nobody will sit next to Bill Cosby. He looks depressed, and I begin to tell him he can sit by me. Then I remember that he is a rapist, and think better of it. Just then, a rousing speech begins in which the recent accomplishments of the union are listed.

Dream Diary: “Beyond”

I find myself in the Afterlife, which consists of sitting in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway in the middle of the night. The only unusual thing is that while everybody else is in a car (or rather, I assume there are people in the cars), I must sit naked on the ashpalt, dragging myself along with my hands.

After a while, the traffic dissipates, and the road becomes very wet. I am now able to drag myself at formidable speed, although the fact that there are cars tearing past me and I am naked makes the experience quite frightening.

Eventually, I reach my exit, and the only sensation around me is blackness, though my naked body remains somehow illuminated. A voice in the dark tells me what life was all about:

“You are a rich man who has purchased immortality. In search of ways to amuse yourself, you decided to spend eternity inhabiting simulations of other lives, lived by people long since dead.”

A series of glass orbs presents itself in front of me. Inside the orbs swirl hints of image, that suggest landscapes and events but are impossible to comprehend. Each orb has a different subtle tint.

“Would you like to try another one?”

I hesitate for a moment, then select an orb. My every memory disappears, and I find myself being born.

This time, I am Martin Short.

Dream Diary: “Chalet”

My team enters the chalet to set down our things and unpack. The walls of the chalet consist of layers and layers of gently billowing white bedsheets. The ceiling, too, is a bedsheet, and occasionally droops on us.

In the center of the chalet is the only object left behind by the previous occupants: an elaborate mechanical food-preparer in a glass case. There is a hole in the top of the glass, into which you are supposed to insert an egg. When you add the egg, and press a button, the machine goes into action, frying the egg and chopping some vegetables. It makes an entire delicious meal. But because there is only a hole in the top, you cannot retrieve the food once it is cooked. The point of the machine is to allow you to watch the fried egg gradually rot, and contemplate the decay of all things.

When this is done, the chalet is a mall. Every surface is covered in yellow bathroom tile, with a bright yellow light setting everyone aglow. I see red duvets being used to cover all of the mall’s skylights, and I realize the Zapatistas are about to take it hostage. My friends try to talk me into taking up arms alongside the Zapatistas, but I realize that I am too cowardly and also wearing a suit.

Dream Diary: “Beluga”

We spend all day chasing the White Whale. Each time we catch up with it, it eats many of our men. As dusk falls, we finally manage to corner it with the help of some friendly belugas. When we remove it from the water, I remark that it resembles a Xerox machine more than a whale. Indeed, it soon begins making copies.

We are about to drive the final spear into the whale, when I stop the crew. “The whale is weak now,” I say. “What if we just turned it into an exhibit and let it snooze?”

But Chester would have none of my mercy. “We can’t take the risk,” he says as he stabs it in the paper tray.

* * * *

I meet a girl who was raised by the whales. “I am 21,” she says. “I lived with the whales from the time I was 6 to the day I turned 20.” She is shy, as one might expect from a girl raised by whales.

She sits on my lap, and we discuss life and whales. But there is something off about her story. “How did you sleep in the ocean?” I ask her.

“Oh, I would sleep inside a hippopotamus,” she said. At this, I know she is lying. Everyone knows that hippopotamuses are very dangerous. Disgusted by this betrayal, I buck her from my lap and she falls to the sand.

As if on cue, two hippos trot past us and frown.

* * * *

The waiter is singing us a song about why we should donate to the Servers’ Union. As he reaches his second chorus, however, a tidal wave engulfs the restaurant. As I am pulled beneath the water, I am relieved that I did not have to suffer the awkwardness of declining to donate to the Server’s Union after he had gone to the trouble of singing us a song.

[Note: I regularly experience dreams that consist simply of being engulfed by tsunamis. I do not note down each of these here, because they are repetitive and lacking in plot. However, I felt this particular incarnation of the tsunami-dream was exceptional enough to share.]

Dream Diary: “Brother”

Each step in a staircase is covered with a different colour of neon fur.

*      *      *      *

I mistake some ants for bees. “Remember that bees never march in grids,” I am told.

*      *      *      *

I am annoyed at the other cable-car driver. Our cable-cars look exactly like Twinkies. He is driving his too slow, and so I purposefully ram him, for which we are both indicted. My frustration only increases when he refers to me as his “brother.”

“3 Men Hit In The Testicles,” says the newspaper headline.

“But I didn’t hit three men in the testicles,” I mutter. “I just hit three men, period.”

*      *      *      *

I am mesmerized by a framed picture of a battle, half of which depicts a battle, and half of which depicts a framed picture of a battle. As the battle melts into the picture of the battle, we see how war becomes romanticized in image.

I am shown a catalogue of books, and asked which I would like to display in my hall. I choose two board-books by Bob Pece, one entitled Scary Shapes and the other entitled Magnificent Monsters. 

Dream Diary: “Leather”

The mugger points a revolver at me. He demands that I hand over any and all leather I might have on me.

“Shoes, belt, wallet. Anything with leather, hand it over!” he barks.

“The wallet is imitation leather,” I reply as he points at it.

“Keep it then,” he says, as he gathers up my other items. “Here, I don’t want this.” He has removed the buckle from my belt. He gives it back to me, because it is not leather.

“I’ve been pretty bad at being a mugging victim, haven’t I?” I ask him as he turns to leave.

“Yes, you have.” He and I both laugh heartily.

*     *     *      *

I am the producer of a cable news program. We are in the studio.

“Try to look less like a hostage, and more like a news anchor,” I say to the news anchor.