Candy Floss and Soundtracks

Dearest Rachel –

There are mornings when you try to put together the dreams from last night, only to find yourself holding a paper cone of candy floss (okay, cotton candy, if you must) that’s been out in the hot sun for the last two hours. It may not have been that long ago that it was this big, poofy cloud of stuff, but in the bright light of days, it’s been reduced to a colorful, sweet, but absolutely sticky mess, with no real substance to it – at which point, it’s kind of distasteful.

That’s how I’d describe this morning – or at least, the visions of this morning.

To a certain extent, it was almost a little bit too literal, as I found myself in bed in my dream, just as in real life. Only, I was in the middle of either a library or a bookstore, where my cot was positioned between two walls of book stacks. I can only guess that either I was the owner or a volunteer, because who would be brazen enough to set up a sleeping quarter in some relatively obscure corner of the establishment, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be summarily dismissed for doing so?

Speaking of brazen… while it seemed like most of the books surrounding me looked to be fairly old, hard-bound volumes (in particular, antique encyclopedias), there was at least one novel? biography? that caught my attention. Not the content of the book, of course – you know how it is, you read a passage of anything in a dream, and it makes perfect sense in the moment, but when you try to remember any of it upon waking, you come to the realization that you were reading abject gibberish. No, in dreams you’re left having to literally judge a book by its cover, in defiance of the old saying.

And what a cover! The crop-headed girl posed in black and white was covered strategically by the title and the author’s name (her name?), but by very little else, as far as I could tell. And even that title would have been worthy of censoring, as it was literally one of those words that are still not allowed on television (although I understand that it’s in fairly common parlance in places like Australia, where it retains its punch as a particularly potent insult). It’s entirely possible that the author was leaning into this insult, embracing it as a descriptor of her personality; after all, if the right people call you names, you wear them like a badge of honor.

On the other hand, given her provocative pose, it’s entirely possible that she was simply referring to the one she owned, and the adventures she had and the business she did with it. Again, it’s not like I could’ve read the book. Besides, I was still trying to get some sleep – yes, even within my dream.

Only that wasn’t exactly feasible, either. If my cot was positioned in such a way that most patrons (and even my boss, presumably) weren’t aware of it, it seemed as if there was a couple in the next aisle who had arrived at the same conclusion, and were using this remarkable level of supposed privacy for a somewhat different venture. Granted, it’s the sort of activity that’s easier done in bed as well, but they clearly weren’t bothering with that nicety. I could see glimpses through the rows of books what was going on, but at that point, I was struggling with my continued attempts to return to sleep, coupled with my own hopes of not being discovered to concern myself with the view. Or the noises, for that matter… really, all the two of them were lacking was the stereotypical ‘bow-chicka-wow-wow’ soundtrack one might associate with that kind of 70s-era flick.

And that’s about when the image began to melt away (honestly, it is somewhat distressing when someone else – even if you have no idea who they might be – is enjoying themselves in a way you used but no longer can. I don’t know why my mind conjured up this image in the first place, even if it did obscure most of the proceedings with stacks of old books), leaving me with the somewhat tangential wish for a soundtrack to my life. Not the kind you see in those movies geared toward teenagers going on dates – those have their place, perhaps, but I’m not generally one for the pop music of the day. Besides, that tends to freeze the work in a specific range, a product of its time, limiting its appeal and its relevance going forward.

No, I’m talking about mood music in the background. Something that lets the audience know what they’re in for – and, if only I could hear it, informs me of what I’m dealing with as well. If I could hear that ‘bow-chicka-wow-wow’ as I approached my dorm room back in college, that would have been so much more effective in warding me away from an awkward situation than any sock or tie hung on the doorknob. Likewise, the swell of Tchaikovsky as my eyes met yours could have saved us both some time and missteps (although what background music would have been able to convey such complex themes as ‘she’s gonna be yours someday, kiddo, but she ain’t ready just yet’?), and while we did well enough without it back in the day, it would be nice to have those cues now, too, as I’ve gotten older and more oblivious to what possibilities do and do not exist. Not to mention, as at least one comedian we used to enjoy has stated, “I could be romantic, too, if I had an orchestra following me around all the time!”

It might also have kept us from making certain bad decisions, too, or at least warned us of certain reverses in our lives. An ominous Latin chant when the phone rang from Twofeathers, perhaps, telling you about the situation with each of your parents in turn; or even more so, some minor key sting just before you were to launch yourself down the hill that one last time, just enough to get you to hesitate, or turn, or… something. Just a few musical cues from the great Conductor of creation could have made all the difference in the world.

Or maybe, if that was something we lived with all our lives, we’d eventually come to the place where we would ignore it; literally tuning it out as background noise that didn’t actually mean anything, any more than the faint smells that we inhale and think nothing of unless they’re extremely strong. Who’s to say? I think it would be a nice idea; but as we don’t have a ‘real life’ situation like this to compare against, it’s little more than idle speculation and imagination.

I wonder what the music is like where you are…

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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