Who knows what a dream is? That’s a stupid question, isn’t it? Why is this guy at our school assembly asking what a dream is? Everyone knows that it’s the crazy world I see when I sleep! That was a stupid thing to ask. I should kick that man in his abdomen.

But don’t do it yet, because I’m talking about the other dreams. The dreams you have of what you’re going to do with your life! And if you don’t have those kinds of dreams, well, mister or missy, I’m here to tell you that you better get busy dreaming! Because those dreams, unlike the nighttime ones where your mom has the head of Stalin, are ones that you can try to make come true. If you don’t dream them, you get nowhere. If you do dream—if you do—well, amazing things can happen.

Who here has dreams of being a movie star? Anyone? Desperate and sensitive boys? Insecure shaggy-haired girls with eating disorders? A career in show business! It could be yours. Keep with that dream and you may one day find yourself as a member of a four-person troupe called The Amazing Mathemagicians touring around to various elementary school cafetoriums teaching about the wonders of math, all sponsored by a two-year nonrenewable grant from the county. You’ll travel throughout the region most school days in an old van, driven by a puffy-faced out-of-shape man who also coordinates the program, writes the scripts, directs the shows, and plays “The Wizard.” He wears a fedora when he’s not onstage. After the school performances, he’ll always want to go to Chili’s and “celebrate,” but you and the other two Mathemagicians will get out of it. This job will pay $200 a week on the weeks you work but will give you enough time to do alternative theater at night, which pays nothing. “The Wizard” will sometimes show up at your productions and you’ll have to introduce him to your friends and he’ll ask what everyone’s doing after ‘cause he’s hungry. Yes! There’s no business like show business! Your movie-star dream could bring you right to that tense, drafty backstage area.

How about athletes? Anyone dream about a career in the big leagues with multimillion-dollar contracts and your own jet aeroplane? All sorts of things might happen to that dream! You may glimpse remnants of it as you lie writhing on the floor of the local YMCA at age 33 while a pair of bastard young punks sprint by you on their way to more lay-ups. You’ll have just blown out your knee. Again. And as you wait for some sort of staff member to arrive—Christ, didn’t anyone call them?—you’ll think about how a decent high-school playing career should have led to more than a decent community-college playing career and how it very well might have were it not for the stupid knee giving out halfway through your first community-college season. You’ll think how you had heard a scout from UC Irvine was going to be at a game soon for some reason and maybe, if granted decent minutes by that coach, you could have put on a real show and landed at least a walk-on spot. From there, who knows? Maybe the NBA, sure, or at least overseas, like Italy or France or Turkey or the Philippines. Or maybe Vietnam? You thought you heard Vietnam had a league now. Not sure. But that goddamn knee ruined all that, and it’s been the Y ever since. And here you are with the knee again. Sure wish you had health insurance. Your wife will be so mad. Like for real this time. So keep dreaming that dream! Be like Mike! Charles Barkley believes in himself and you might, too!

Ah, the high school is full of dreams! And dreamers of dreams. Dream dreamers, as I might like to call them. Who here loves art classes? Do you dream of being the most famous and successful artist in the whole world? Well, that is a dream! Where will that magical journey take you? Perhaps to a cubicle in the design department of a major food conglomerate where you’re staying late again to work on more mockups of packaging for a new sort of extreme macaroni ‘n’ cheese. The mascot of this new brand is supposed to be a “radical rasta surfer,” and in previous meetings you have been told that all your presentations looked “too monsterlike” (when you emphasized the “radical”), “too druggie” (when you emphasized the “rasta”), or “too confusing.” They also nixed the idea of the character surfing on the goo from macaroni ‘n’ cheese while also refusing to let him surf on water or nothing. But he’s still supposed to be a surfer. Your boss has mentioned that maybe this whole project should be “jobbed out” to save you some hassle, which is a pretty bad sign considering you’re on a contract there yourself. All this will leave you little time to put together your solo show, opening at Happy Go Latte next week. Your friends say they’re looking forward to it. Without dreams, you might never get to that place! Dreams!

Think of it! Dream of being a powerful lawyer? You could end up droning on and on at a district zoning meeting, boring everyone in attendance. Dream of being a great writer? Internet message boards around the world are eager to publish you! Dream of coming up with the next great scientific breakthrough? My goodness, that’s pretty much impossible given how many people work on stuff like that. Hope you like teaching junior-high life science over and over and over.

My time is almost up. In closing, I want to thank your principal, who loves his job, for having me here. And thanks to all of you for listening. Keep dreaming. And I hope you never ever wake up!