Mowing the lawn naked. Cars honk as they drive by. I smile and wave. The front wheels catch a root. I push the mower up and walk into the spinning blades, which are made of taffy.
I’m on a date in a Paris cafe. The woman I’m lunching with calls me a name I don’t understand. I look the word up in my phrase book. There’s no definition, just a telephone number. I dial the number and speak to an American man whose voice I recognize from educational filmstrips in the 1970s. He tells me he’ll drop by to tell me the definition sometime tomorrow between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. I prepare to wait.
I’m driving with my college economics professor, an old chain-smoker with rheumy eyes and a tubercular cough. It’s a tiny little Pepsi-can of a car, and I’m driving barefoot. My professor stares straight ahead, eyes unblinking, a white rabbit in his lap. There are no roads, just tall grass buffeted by breezes. I can’t wait to walk in it, feel the dew on my feet. I pull over at the edge of a football stadium parking lot. Thousands of fans funnel through the gates. We get out of the car. I tell him he can’t bring the rabbit inside. My professor looks at the animal for the first time then releases the rabbit. It leaps into the grass and is gone.
I’m watching myself water ski on a placid lake. My muscles are taut. My skin is tan and smooth. I look really good in my swim trunks. Back and forth I navigate the wake on my slalom ski with a new trick for each crossing. The boat picks up speed as we approach the red ramp. I’m really moving now. I hit the ramp and grab massive air, when, suddenly, a tree shoots out of the lake. I hit the trunk and slide down into the water. It looks like it hurts, but I shake it off.
I’m watching myself water ski on a placid lake….
Sailing the seven seas with Popeye. A tri-master appears on the horizon, flying the skull and crossbones. Captain Brutus and his crew of long-armed, half-naked goons board the ship. Through strength, skill with cutlasses and canned spinach, we repel the pirates and make off with a chest filled with gleaming coins. Popeye hands me my share of the loot in a sack with a dollar sign on it. When I remind Popeye it’s only a dream, he suggests we put the money under my pillow so it will be there when I wake up. Dizzy with greed, I find no fault in this plan.
In the morning, I check under my pillow: no loot again.
I’m swimming through a series of underwater caves. Somehow there is light. An unearthly sound guides me to an ancient grotto. A man dressed all in white sits at an organ carved from a stalagmite. The music is faintly nostalgic, stirring sentimental urges I didn’t know I’d been harboring. I long for the sweet smell of fresh hay, even though I’ve never been to a farm. I crave roasted nuts, mulled cider, an over-sized sweater. If I had a stick, I’d throw it, recalling with great fondness autumn days and a dog that never was. The music stops. Applause washes over me. I turn and find myself on a stage before thousands of adoring fans. I’m not naked, but I so want to be.
I’m in an abandoned brewery. Trench-coated gangsters have got me bound in chains from head to toe. I’m hoisted upside down over a cold vat of Guinness. Where’s Popeye when I need him? The men laugh maniacally as I’m slowly lowered into the stout. No one comes to my rescue.