9:31 a.m. - Friday, Jan. 02, 2004
I walked down the steps of the auditorium where the town was having its festival, and there were food competitions, plant competitions, all manner of competitions. I walked through the wings of the stage and entered an alternate reality.
My sister "S" and my brother-in-law "T" had an enormous house.* I was staying the night. They fixed me up with some guy. Actually they asked me beforehand if I would like to get into S&M, and I said, Hey, why not? So they found a guy for me, a friend of theirs, a late-40ish biker-type guy who was reputed to be a great ladies' man and a fabulous lover. I had never met him before, but I found him attractive. Actually, I felt quite awkward, since it's been so long since ... you know. But we started chatting, joking, laughing, and I really enjoyed his company. However, we weren't there to chat. I started looking at the equipment that S and T had left us, the alleged S&M equipment, and it was nothing like the leather and chains I was expecting from what I've seen on the Jerry Springer show. It came with a large user's manual, which I started to read, but found the instructions so mixed up with esoteric philosophy that I lost patience. "Jeez, these people make a religion out of this stuff," I said. I don't mind my sister and brother-in-law being into S&M, but when they start making it the basis of their spiritual life, that's just WEIRD.
Mr. 40ish-Biker-Type didn't want anything to do with the S&M, anyway. In spite of feeling awkward, I got undressed and got into the bed with him. He started doing the conventional things. He seemed to be expecting me to be highly impressed with his technique, and I wasn't. I was trying to have fun, but he just wasn't doing it for me; and he, disappointed by my lack of response, announced that he wanted to take a break. After a while it became evident that by "take a break," he meant kick me to the curb. So I started getting dressed again. My sister came in and was trying to comfort me for having been rejected by Mr. 40ish-Biker-Type, but I said, "Hey, it's no skin off my nose — saves me the trouble of faking an orgasm." I went downstairs to try to find some transportation so I could get to work.
Only now the house was the house of my niece "H" and her boyfriend "B" — a tiny house in a crowded, disorganized neighborhood. They were having continual difficulties with a contentious neighbor about where it was permissible to park their cars. I watched H go out to her car, which she had parked behind this neighbor's house, and take some papers off her windshield that he had put there. I picked up and started reading a little newspaper, manufactured by the contentious neighbor and distributed around the neighborhood, making fun of B. I thought it was kind of funny, actually, but when I noticed that B had come in and was standing next to me, I wiped the smile off my face and said, "What is this guy's problem?" B said, "You know, I'm about ready to tell him he can have the $1600** if he'll just quit making trouble... What do you think I should do?"
"Oh, no, don't ask me for advice," I said, laughing. "A venal person like me, why, I'd hire a lawyer and sue him for the $1600, just for the pleasure of causing him trouble. But a noble person like you, renouncing the $1600 for the sake of peace, that's really admirable."
He arose and went outside: I watched through the window. I couldn't hear them, so it was like a pantomime or a silent movie: a group of neighbors, B and H, and Mr. Troublemaker, all coming together, talking, then the whole group raised up their hands as if in celebration, and H, overcome with joy as it seemed, collapsed on the ground. B laid her on a blanket next to the garbage cans and came inside. "It's all settled," he said. "What about H?" I asked. "Oh, she collapsed from the excitement. She's going to die." I grabbed a blanket and ran out to her; covered her legs with the blanket and started massaging her feet, as if I thought I could get the blood moving, as if I could massage the life back into her. A few other people ran out, too, with blankets. I moved up and started massaging H's shoulders. Groggily, she murmured, "I'm going to die."
"Oh, no, you're not," I said.
"I must be going to die," she answered, "otherwise you'd be humping me."***
I burst out laughing. I thought: if she can make a smart-ass remark like that, she must be going to be all right.
But it really was time for me to get to work. I had to go onto the expressway and learn how to fly: it was like rollerblading, but without the rollerblades. I was clumsy and slow at first, and I had to get out of the way whenever cars came roaring by. Gradually I gained in skill and speed. Then I had to pass through a train where at intervals there were stationed guards with machine guns. In order to pass by them, I had to convince them that I was the commanding officer, and this I did by giving them commands as if they were dogs: "Sit! Stay!" When one hesitated, seeming to doubt my authority, I said chidingly: "Are you going to be a bad doggy? No, no, no. Sit!" He let me pass. I came to the end of the car: I had no idea how to get through the door into the next car, but then all the guards came up behind me and respectfully helped me through. Through the wings of the stage I passed from that alternate reality back into my own reality, into the auditorium where my town was having its festival. I was climbing back up the stairs when I noticed that something was different: people were dressed as if they had needed help in dressing and hadn't gotten it. One woman had her skirt tucked into her pantyhose. Everyone else just looked awful. I was about to start making fun of them when I noticed the plants and the food that they were holding, their entries in the competition. The plants were glowing with vitality, strong, vigorous, lusty; and the food was like a photograph brought into focus for the first time. And it wasn't a competition anymore, it was a celebration. I glanced at a price list by the cash register and saw that things were being sold for nominal, laughable amounts.
That's when it hit me: something that I, or someone else, had done in that alternate reality had changed my own reality. People in my reality no longer gave a damn about things like fashion and profit. The plants were glowing with health because people devoted themselves to caring for the natural world; the food was so perfect because people were putting their heart and souls into the sustenance that they gave to each other.
Only, I noticed a slip of paper by the cash register, picked it up, started to read it: it was addressed to me, a printed-out receipt, a summary of all I had just been through. I realized that the whole thing had been a video game. I didn't want to believe that. I wanted it to be real! I wandered into another room where a young boy asked me to join him in playing another round of that same game. "No, thank you," I said distractedly, but what I was thinking was, "Hell, no, I don't want to play that game, I want to live it!" I turned and walked out into the real world.
That's when the alarm clock woke me up. Man, did I have to pee.
* I seemed to spend a lot of time wandering around that house looking for a bathroom, but they all were being used, or the door wouldn't lock, or whatever, which was my unconscious way of dealing with the waking-life fact that I really had to pee.
** What, you want a lucid and consistent story line? It's a dream, for god's sake.
***New Year's Eve I had watched an episode of Blind Date in which the young woman featured had constantly talked about "humping."