Sunday, March 12, 2006

Oh, the dreams I sometimes have...

Perhaps it was last night’s budget-friendly red wine that made me subject to strange and disturbing dreams. In one, I had been sent away to boarding school, but it wasn’t one of those quaint-but-homoerotically-fraught boarding schools so popular in British fiction. No, my boarding school was a full-on modernist nightmare German boarding school. The buildings were all boxy, bunker-like things and you could get from one to another without ever having to go outside, since there was a series of narrow underground passages connecting them all. Going outside wasn’t a better option, either, since everything was covered in concrete and crowded with lounging smokers. Now, in real life every German person I've met has been friendly, charming, and perfectly decent. In my dreams, however, Germans are bad boarding school classmates. They forced all us non-Germans to share one enormous room, a sort of gymnasium where all the cots were pushed so close together you had to climb over them to get anywhere. None of us non-Germans had a cot to ourselves, either. I shared mine with a pair of Serbian children, and we were some of the lucky ones. Next to me was a cot claimed by nine young and sullen Albanians. They could never get comfortable. I could hardly blame them.

The worst thing was our German upperclassmen’s habit of standing in the doorway of our room, smoking their weird cigarettes, and making nasty comments in some of the most ridiculous fake accents ever heard in a dream or anywhere. “Loooook at them, Hans, they are like wriggling worms!” one of them would say and then Hans would say, “Yaaah, Moritz! Worms! I am deesgusted by their worm-like beeeehavior!” There was nothing we could do about it. I would just lay there, with the Serbs, and think sullen things like, “Those Germans are buttheads.” In this dream, I was only ten years old. That was apparently the most heavy-duty insult I could wield back then. And what was interesting was that just thinking it had an effect. “Oh, Hans! My butthole! It eeeetches!” said Moritz, and he began wildly scratching the crown of his head. “Mine too, Moritz! Perhaps we have caught the buttlice!” said Hans, digging deep into his blonde hair with his long, Teutonic fingers.

“My butthole itches too!” screamed one of the Albanian children. “Mine too!” screamed another. Soon the whole room was screaming it, the Serbs, the Croats, the Greeks, the Americans, the French, and the Djiboutans. And they were all scratching their heads, all at once, so the sound of it was like a whole concert hall erupting in a standing ovation. “All our buttholes eeeetch!” howled Moritz. “Yaaah! We are the same in that way!” screeched Hans and they fell to the ground and writhed with the rest of us. I put my hands to my ears and curled up in a ball as the scratching grew louder and louder, like a swarm of locusts going over me, and then I woke to the static of my clock radio’s alarm going off.

It took me a moment to realize that I wasn’t crammed into a gymnasium packed with a thousand strangers with itchy buttholes on the tops of their heads. When I did, I sighed in relief, got up and turned off my alarm clock, and went back to bed for another hour.

I imagine this was my subconscious’ fevered plea for world peace. I’m glad my subconscious doesn’t have it’s own show on the FOX news channel.