Friday, July 15, 2005

Strange Dreams

One waking, one sleeping.

Early yesterday evening, as I watched the Giants game broadcast from Dodger Stadium, a tableau arose in my mind's eye. I suddenly imagined the family hanging out in an LA back patio, sometime in the late Sixties or early Seventies. It would be somewhere like Glendale, or Eagle Rock. Over the back fence we'd have a minor view, through the dirty brown air, of distant grey palm trees that should be green, of the occasional large building rising up through the postwar sprawl, and here and there an airliner on approach to LAX or Burbank.

A bbq flames and smokes and crackles as fat from the hamburgers drips onto the hot coals. We're talking serious fat here. None of this 98% lean jazz. Two of them are crowned with multiple slices of Kraft American Cheese (cheese food product!) and the sideboard has Kilpatrick hamburger buns, French's mustard, and Heinz 57 ketchup, a stack of paper plates, plastic utensils, and a huge bowl of potato salad. Daring Dayton and friends frolic in the slightly dirty kidney shaped pool. My Wife reclines in a reclining lawn chair, sipping ice tea and reading Ladies Home Journal, and I sit in another with my icy cold can of Oly, staring out at the smoggy late afternoon over the bougainvillea that covers the back fence, wondering why they won't leave Dick Nixon alone fer chrissakes, 'cause he's the only guy who can get us out of this Vietnam mess with honor and deal with all these damn kids who are running amok at places like Berkeley.

I sat there on my couch on a foggy evening in Richmond and could actually feel the warm air, and the hopeless suburban torpor. I could even hear the Frank Sinatra music coming through from the hi-fi record player. I was nearly overwhelmed, and immediately fetched an Orion beer from the refrigerator, I mean, the 'fridge.

Early this morning, I had another dream, a nightmare really, that I've had before at a less developed stage. We were in a nicely appointed but sparse house, with a long narrow laundry room in back. We were keeping watch through the windows of this room for something ominous. I remember a feeling of extreme anxiety, as though if it comes we have almost no chance. Then we saw it outside the laundry room back door. I can't describe "it." It was never clear. I just remember that our only chance was to cover ourselves in blankets of meringue...not the hard shell stuff, but the meringue you find on lemon meringue pie. As "it" broke in to the house, we all scrambled underneath our blankets of meringue, but it got mine and was pulling it off and I began to panic. My soul was at stake. An indescribable horror awaited me if I didn't somehow fight it off, and I was losing the battle. In the dream I began to yell "No! No!" and then I awoke. My Wife said I was hyperventilating and muttering "No! No!"

The dream never returned, but this morning I feel exhausted. I'll think about this one for awhile. I wonder if Frank Sinatra was coming to get me, or maybe Nixon. Now I wonder, can I muster a large enough army of crows to fight them off if they come again?


Anonymous Wiggy said...

Stop hittin' the Oly so hard Harry.

No, seriously, your first tableau (still on the French kick, oui?) pitched me straight into my childhood - except the dirty brown air was from my father's BBQ technique of using an entire bag of charcoal. Consummate description of the times.

Now I wonder, can I muster a large enough army of crows to fight them off if they come again?

You mustered the squirrels once - you'll surely be able to again ;-)

1:34 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Well, it was a powerful image. It appeared wholly formed in my mind's eye. Did you grow up in southern Cal?

1:57 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

Goddam, dream #1 was good. Are you going to write a book?

2:32 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Thanks. Hadn't thought about it, but maybe I should write something about that era. Of course, I'd be about the 9,887th person to do it, but what the hell. I could bring in the Dodgers and Giants, Nixon, weird little California towns not yet touched by the era's turmoil, Berkeley, and of course, lots of drugs, cocktail parties, and lost dreams burned sepia by the California sun. There would have to be allusions to Vietnam, but perhaps I could mostly avoid it.

Suggestions are welcome, especially from Native Californians.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

Hey, it could be a sort of "Wonder Years" thing, but from the perspective of the parents and not the kids. You're probably right, it is almost hackneyed, but all you have to do is think of an angle to make it different than the others.

Just a thought, as I was watching Steve McQeen in Bullitt the other night on the TV--the movie made it's way from start to finish with barely a nod to the "counter-culture" or Viet Nam, Hippies, etc. It made me wonder just how big an influence was all that stuff, anyway? Could we have done without it?

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Wiggy said...

You mustered the squirrels once

Oops. I meant crows. Yes, I kneow that, I kneow that.

I grew up in Sunnyvale - which was severely lacking in squirrels and crows.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Sunnyvale! Sacred blue! Sunnyvale was culturally much like LA back in the least incomparison to Berkeley. I had cousins who grew up in Campbell. I remember endless jokes about the Santa Clara Valley being San Fernando north.

Indeed, crows, ou corneilles.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Wiggy said...

Mais bien sur!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Don said...

the hopeless suburban torpor

For someone who never actually lived in the suburbs you have a strong feel for it - in a weird, ominous, Steven King sort of way.

But that's what it is, of course. As if our fondest dream is to enable informal entertainment, all my energies are lost in trying to build my patio cover, trying to repair my Jeep, trying to finish constructing a decent RV pad, trying to eradicate the bermuda grass, trying to wrestle this semi-wild land into drought-tolerant gardens. As if I am becoming, not my father (obviously), but the prototypical father, using entire bags of charcoal and subsuming the soul of my existence to the empty-eye-socket gods that live here at civilization's end.

Maybe that is why us middle-aged suburban fathers are driven by something dark in our deep subconsciousness to vote for men unafraid to let their fingers hover playfully over the nuclear button that will remake the entire world into a bag of briquets ...

12:13 PM  
Blogger Don said...

But why does your dream occur in ... LA? Truly a nightmare.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Don said...

I want to know about the meringue. What is it really, this blanket? What is it in the dream that is so horrible, your waking mind retranslates it into a popular pie filling?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Don said...

lost dreams burned sepia by the California sun

Have you been reading Chandler again?

12:17 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

The meringue dream has me intrigued. What does meringue mean to you? (Only you can interpret this.) What would this mean if you considered "it" to be another aspect of your own self?

I know you're not supposed to interpret other people's dreams, but meringue is not very sturdy--you are hiding, maybe? But you kind of want to be discovered? It's already starting to happen?

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Wiggy said...

Get out the Jung!

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Wiggy said...

As if our fondest dream is to enable informal entertainment

"As if"... Ah oui, nous faisons cela, n'est ce pas?! Merde!

Maybe that is why us middle-aged suburban fathers are driven by something dark in our deep subconsciousness to vote for men unafraid to let their fingers hover playfully over the nuclear button

Mon Dieu! Merde! I think you've stumbled upon something seriously true here... Scary.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

I am always reading Chandler, off and on.

In fact, Yuma AZ in 1963-65 was very much the suburbs in most ways. I remember sidewalk surfing on skateboards with steel wheels. I remember the Circle K Market being the center of our universe. I remember the flat, landscaped neighborhood with bright green lawns in front of one story ranchette style homes, low brick walls gracefully bordering some of them; cars being worked on in driveways; water balloon fights; everybody getting really cranked when Phantoms from MCAS Yuma flew over the neighborhood on their way to the Ajo Bombing Range. I definietly lived in surbia for a little while and have visited many time since. Hell, Berkeley is really an old suburb itself. I wonder how many of its self-absorbed citizens actually realize that?

1:44 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

The waking dream occurred in LA because it came to me as I watched a Giants-Dodgers game broadcast from Chavez Ravine. Suddenly this image of Glendale, or maybe Westchester down near the airport came fully formed into my brain. I saw it all, including the distant, grey brown palm trees. LA is fun to visit, then when I consider the fate of living forever in the midst of it, I begin to feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

You know, I'm not sure why it was meringue. Perhaps because the "thing" was so formless, I was not in need of some hard shell. Maybe the protein in the egg white would somehow absorb the soul-sucking evil that was coming to get me.

"But you kind of want to be discovered?"

Interesting speculation. That's one to consider for a spell.

By the way, Hip, the meringue is not the filling. It's the cover to the filling. Maybe I am the filling. Maybe I am the lemon filling that I don't want taken away.

2:09 PM  

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