Dearest Rachel –
Every so often, when I wake up, my body has this way of telling me that I’ve done everything wrong. Woke up cold and sore today, not because I’m coming down with something, but because I left the ceiling fan on (it was warm last night), and I fell asleep flat on my back, rather than propped up in that half-sitting position I normally make a point of sleeping in.
Lesson re-learned, I guess; do some things wrong, and you get run over by karma.
A nice hot shower will iron out the kinks in fairly short order (and at least, I know I won’t be dealing with the guilt of not attending to the dog first), anyway, so that’s something. But before I do that, I guess I might as well tell you about last nights dream, before it fades into nothingness. Not that it means anything whatsoever, but you always used to tell me yours, and now that (for whatever reason) I’m experiencing them on a regular basis, I should probably tell you mine in turn. It’s only fair. To be sure, it’s not as if there was anything deep or mysterious about it. It’s just that it was vivid enough to be memorable when I woke up.
One of the more unusual things about it was that it I seemed it to experience it on two different levels. At first, we (and yes, I think it was you and I, although there wasn’t any big deal about it; you were just there riding with me like it was the most normal thing in the world. Which, when you come down to it, was the way things work not too long ago) were simply on a garden-variety road trip. There was no indication in the dream of any particular destination; we were apparently headed nowhere special (and now that Gene Wilder has passed on, joining Cleavon Little and Harvey Korman in that great movie theater in the sky – would you happen to have seen any of them up there, by the way? I wouldn’t make any bets when it comes to celebrities, but I might as well ask – his line at the end of Blazing Saddles, “Nowhere special… I always wanted to go there,” has this way of making me choke up a bit these days).
In any event, we decided to pull over into one of those parking lot arrangements that had a number of restaurants scattered around it; kind of like the triangle that we live near to, in fact. Not sure why; it isn’t as if I woke up hungry this morning, so it wasn’t as if there was any bleed over from real life into the dream. But, it was the sort of thing we were doing a road trip, so I don’t think that Dream Me thought anything of it.
I never saw the sign outside, so I’m not gonna make a plug for any particular place. Even if I did, what little I noticed of the interior would probably have looked nothing like any real life franchise of any particular restaurant chain, so to claim it was X restaurant would hardly be representative of the brand in real life, now, would it? Let’s just say it would be considered ‘casual family’ dining. Because – and this is where things start to get a little weird – for whatever reason, they provided newspapers, specifically the comics section, for us to peruse while we waited for our order.
It’s the sort of thing that you would’ve appreciated, considering all those stacks of newspapers that you left behind, hoping that you’d be able to get around to reading all those comics. But no matter. I won’t say that I didn’t recognize any of the strips, but even the familiar-looking ones lacked any characters that I knew. I know I haven’t picked up a newspaper in ages, but comic strips don’t turn over their cast completely in just a matter of years, do they?
Anyway, for whatever reason, my eyes were drawn to what I’ll refer to is the Beetle Bailey analog. At least, it was in Mort Walker’s art style, and clearly set in the military, although none of the cast I recall were there: no Beetle, no Sarge, no General Halftrack, and most importantly, no Zero.
The plot of the strip, such as you could tell from a mere four panels, had the main ensemble cast meeting and (for whatever reason, because who one earth would take the advice of these washouts?) advising a guest character who was training to become an astronaut. It was at this point at the strip ceased to be a comic strip, and started to feel more like real life. I felt like I was actually in the scene, if only as an observer, listening to these jokers make suggestions to this NASA trainee.
The whole gist of their suggestion was that, like any military unit, a space crew needs a mascot to accompany them for the sake of morale. Setting aside the obvious and many differences between a space flight crew and a battalion corps, I kind of understand the logic. Heck, for all I know, this might be my mind’s way of reminding me how much I miss having an animal around the house.
All of which does not mean that I will be getting another one; you’ve already heard me complain enough times about Chompers to know that my conscious mind does not agree with my subconscious on this subject. And that’s assuming that’s what my subconscious is trying to tell me.
Back to the subject at hand; in particular, the regular cast were insisting that this astronaut candidate bring aboard as a mascot… a cat. They even pointed out that one of their own number had done the same when he had flown a mission in space.
And that’s when I turned to look at their (alleged) former astronaut comrade. As I said, none of the characters I was observing? interacting with? were familiar, but I somehow realized which archetype each of them was. This former astronaut was not Zero, but I clearly realized that he was the simpleton of the company. I also noticed but he had that look in his eyes that is sometimes referred to as “the thousand-yard stare,” indicating an attack of PTSD. I’m guessing at this point, we were now in the fourth panel of the actual strip, where the punchline was that the gang was telling the truth: not-Zero had, in fact, gone up into space with a cat among his crew once upon a time… and his current role as the company simpleton was somehow due to that experience. As an actual comic strip, this would’ve been far too subtle – and kind of unfunny – for an actual punchline, but that’s dream logic for you.
Indeed, at this point my mind had no idea where to go with this, and so I found myself waking up at this early hour, needing to tell you about it for whatever it might be worth. It’s the sort of thing that you might’ve told me about seeing in your own dreams, once upon a time. And I know that so often, I would just half-listen, nodding along to give you the impression that I was paying attention while I tried to focus on getting dressed and otherwise preparing for the day. I’m so sorry now that I didn’t give you the time and attention you deserved; it seems that my punishment is to experience dreams the way you used to, only with no one to tell them to.
I wish I had gotten the license plate of the karma that ran me over.
I wonder if I’ll ever find someone to tell these dreams to when I wake up.
I know that you’re past caring at this point, assuming you were even aware of my inattention, but I hope you could forgive me for having been like that.