It was kind of my friends to throw me a surprise party, but the jovial mood was tainted by the presence of my nemesis. I knew this stout black man from his neighborhood pool cleaning service but apparently he moonlighted as a cake baker. And tonight, not only was he baking my cake, he was extorting six dollars from me for a cake pedestal—whatever that was.
Ah well—I brushed it off and returned to the party, replete with champagne and cubic leather ottoman. It was a clear night with the stars overhead and enough of a chill to keep formalwear comfortable. Everyone was having a great time. Wait, maybe not. I spotted Kyle sitting alone, clearly dejected, on an elevated balcony.
I grasped the cold metal ladder leading to the balcony with the intent to climb to my friend. It was made of flattened steel pipe, pressed into an oval cross-section. I tried to put my foot on the first rung but it quickly hit the wall behind, leaving only a couple inches of traction. Still, this should have been easy. Then it hit me—I was drunk.
With newfound knowledge of my condition, I gave up my ascension and stumbled to the nearest ottoman.
It gets fuzzier after that.
I couldn’t tell you who she was, but she was beautiful and her tongue was down my throat. In the fitful gaps between rapid-fire kisses I was attempting to sing “birthday kiss” to the tune of Jeremih’s Birthday Sex. In the moment we both seemed to think it was clever. In retrospect it’s downright embarrassing. In any case, “all’s fair in love and war”, and I tend to think of flirting as the intersection of the two.
I awoke in a psychiatric hospital. I might have said this was my first day there but I knew where to go and I knew what they wanted. They were trying to steal my urine.
I got out of bed and tread lightly down the monotonous white halls in my flimsy hospital gown. I ducked into an alcove when I heard a nurse approaching with a gurney. I waited, breathless, until he passed. This was serious business. I passed the men’s restroom on the right. I had to go, but I couldn’t go there—the urinals were tapped! I knew the enemies’ ways. I’d have to find a potted plant or something; that would be safe.
I took a later right turn into an open doorway and sat down across from the only friendly face in the hospital. She looked like Janeane Garofalo in Rivers Cuomo glasses. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but at least we could talk.
And so we did. We talked at length about life and love and I espoused the view that at a base level, attraction is not a choice, and that only the magnitude of attraction can be consciously influenced. She seemed receptive.
I asked her about her passion for her occupation as a psychologist. She sat in awkward silence, struggling with a cacophony of internal conflict, and then, with an uncommon honesty, admitted she’d had none since her teenage years. And so we sat, in wake of the tragedy of irreclaimable years and the majesty of young dreams—the liberation born of destruction—and I knew we were on the same side.
I looked to my right and for the first time noticed that we had company in an adjacent room with a connecting window. We were being watched, but not too closely—they had ordered Chinese and were divvying it up for lunch. I leaned forward and strained to read a small white tag attached to a polystyrene box. It read “Tso’s Forward Chicken”.
We did it. We defeated them.
It would be laborious to explain every battle with each of the twelve uniquely vulnerable foes, but the tale of the last is quick enough.
We drove on an oval racetrack, Matt at the wheel and I in the passenger’s seat. In the center of the track was a raised stage and atop that was the beast.
He must have stood forty feet high. His feet were metal pinchers and his legs were giant braids of cable; twisted mechanical sinews. The legs connected to the body via large, flat metal rings each with a single large barb protruding towards the sky. It had a carapace like an insect and a face too horrible to describe.
We circled it at high speed, dodging its deadly pincher attacks. But it was impossible to maintain control at these speeds. Our vehicle kept scraping against the outer wall of the track. The heat from the friction was palpable and I imagined the frame of the car thinning, grinding away that which kept me from being ground away.
Just then we discovered what we needed to slay our foe. We found the weapon on the track, as if spawned for this purpose—a power-up. A rectangular wooden crate emitting a soft pink light. “The Physical Embodiment of Love”.
We used it to obliterate the beast.
Over the stacks of yellowed keyboards and discarded soda cans, her husband’s obese face could just be made out in the ungodly light cast by the computer monitor. He was insisting once again that it’s only natural for a child to know how the human body works. Slothfulness yielding to agitation, she relented and agreed to teach him.
With a hefty sigh and a complaint about the clutter, she pushed aside her half-eaten salisbury steak TV dinner and a curious little metal device like a miniature swingset with dozens of tiny chrome skulls suspended by wire in place of swings. The skulls clacked together in reply.
Taking pen to paper she carefully drew out a human form, with each small area of the body represented by a complex, curved shape. The shapes interlocked cleanly, never overlapping; composed of fluid lines, together they comprised a baroque human figure.
She hobbled over to a desk in the corner, and from a shallow, felt-lined drawer she produced a set of knives, one-by-one. The knives were ornate and of impractical form, but each she carefully placed on an adjacent table. Each played the role of a shape in her drawing—a map of sorts—and the knives formed the figure of a human being.
She presented it to the child—his education was now complete.
If you’re hoping for some sort of unifying logic, sorry, I don’t have it.
All of this is exactly as I dreamed it, without added embellishment. Strangely enough these dreams took place back-to-back on a single night in late January. Crazy, huh?
Let’s wax intellectual for a moment:
- Is it possible that dreams, by feeding random input to the experiential parts of our brains, pre-wire our neurons for creative thought?
- Does anyone have a recipe for Tso’s Forward Chicken?