I can’t recall the dream I was having prior to that first waking with much clarity, but I know it was an anxiety dream about the Bad Subjects reading scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles. I learned yesterday afternoon that Joel’s flight gets into Burbank at 5:30pm, which is cutting it close for a 7:30pm reading time, even if Los Feliz isn’t that far from Burbank. As for the dream itself, amusingly none of the three scheduled participants for the reading showed up. How’s that for dramatic? I’m pretty sure the dream also involved a reprise of my ongoing conversation with Kim about the limits and limitations of Bad Subjects as a project, though I have a vague sense that the representation was not direct, but mediated through some sort of allegory.
It’s the second dream that I remember vividly. Somehow I’ve managed to become one of those “ordinary people” who get invited to a Presidential function. I’m sitting at the end of the table, with George W. Bush on my right. His brother Jeb is diagonally across from me, sitting to George’s right. I have some sense that I’m “playing the game,” doing the polite thing I would surely do if I ended up in that sort of situation in real life. I’m making pointless small talk. George seems jovial, Jeb wary. I notice that Jeb has thick black eyelashes.
At one point I look down at my plate and there are little pieces of what I take to be beef sitting there, all alone. I take a bite of one. It’s tender and the sauce is just like my mom’s barbecue sauce (which means, incidentally, that it’s not Texas-style, since hers is sweetened – but I don’t acknowledge this in the dream). I can really taste it, more vividly than I recall tasting anything in a dream prior to this one. Jeb and George have been saying something to each other. I try to chime in by saying something positive about the food. The precise language escapes me, but I can loosely paraphrase the meaning of my comment as, “Now this we can agree on.” George seems pleased. There’s a brief exchange I can’t remember, though I have a stronger sense that Jeb is eyeing me with suspicion. “I’d come to your house for this!” I tell George and give him a pat on the back just below the shoulder. I worry that I’ve been too vigorous in my action, that the Secret Service will pounce on me, but no one makes a move. George seems fine. “When did you say you were last in Lamont?,” asks Jeb. I recognize his question as a kind of test. “Lamont” stands metonymically for Texas, I think. But I don’t know a Lamont. Still in the dream, I wonder to myself whether he really meant “Beaumont.” Should I let on how little I know about Texas? I’m glad, all of a sudden, that I’ve actually spent time in the state. I decide to fudge a bit, while keeping the dates straight. “2002,” I reply, getting the distinct impression that Jeb is going to send the fact-checkers to look into the truthfulness of my assertion.
Cut to a little bit later. I’ve eaten a piece of the barbecue meat that didn’t go down right. I’m not choking per se, but I feel very uncomfortable. It’s sort of like a half-choke. I go to the bathroom to try to dislodge what’s bothering me, forcing myself to cough, but to no avail at first. There’s what seems to be a gold spittoon in the bathroom, which I sense has 80s-style, “cheap,” Trump Tower-like décor, the sort I always associate with Texas in my mind. The longer I’m in there, the more I realize that what at first seemed to be a feeling related to what I swallowed actually seems to be the onset of an illness. I remember that Kim woke up yesterday – real time intrudes at this juncture, obviously – with a sore throat and think to myself that I might be catching the same thing. Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door. I open it to see a Secret Service man, who advises me that the Presidential entourage is leaving and that I’d best hurry if I want to see them off.
Cut to the departure. The setting looks like that spot on the UC Berkeley campus between the faculty wing of Dwinelle and that small building where East Asian languages are located – Durant? – though the space seems wider. There’s a crowd milling about what I take to be the Presidential helicopter, though I can’t see the vehicle itself. I’m at George’s side again, this time with the sense that there are reporters and camera crews hovering nearby. George turns to me, the “ordinary person,” to ask the sort of advice candidates like to be seen asking from ordinary people. “Let me ask you. What would you have done about Iraq?” I don’t hesitate at all in answering him. “I would have waited for full international support and done it as a U.N. action. I don’t have any objection to removing Saddam from power. I just wouldn’t have gone in without the support of our allies.” I imagine that this will end our conversation rather abruptly, but George lingers at my side. He turns to some reporters. “See, he would have taken Saddam out too.”
This is when I woke up to the sound of Kim typing on her computer in the front window. Don’t you just love the honesty of dreams?