Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My nocturnal Brazilian odyssey

Last night, I had a dream in which a long-held fantasy of mine was finally satisfied. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, oh sweet mustachioed Jesus in flashy feety-pajamas, he’s not going to tell us about some horrible perverse vision involving Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, a Motel 6 in Kentucky, a vat of cooking lard, and a dwarf in a sailor suit banging cymbals, is he? Rest assured that I’m not. My dreams are wholesome and innocent, and I have to confess that I deeply resent your suspicion that they might not be. You are dirty-minded beasts, all of you! For shame!


As many of you already know, I love to travel. Unfortunately, I don’t get many as many opportunities to do this because of finances, work obligations, and so on and so forth. But a man can still dream. So, last night, while the real me was sprawled face-down across a futon in Minnesota, my subconscious self voyaged forth to the beautiful and mysterious nation of Brazil. It was a grand trip, but I suspect that the real place isn’t very similar to the version that exists in my mind.

For example, a quick glance at an atlas is enough to prove that Brazil does not directly border the town of Grand Marais, Minnesota. But it did in my dream. In it, some friends and I were passing a pleasant day up in that milquetoast northern town when it occured to us that maybe we ought to, you know, visit Brazil, seeing as it was right next door and all. The only way to cross the border into that country, however, was to wriggle through a narrow tunnel in a sheer rock wall, then climb up approximately ten thousand stairs, and finally squeeze your way through a maze-like passageway where the walls were coating on both sides with bat doo-doo. This took a lot of effort, and some of my friends (Greg) were opposed to the idea, but I whined and pouted until I finally got my way, just as I should have. It was, after all, my goddamn dream.

When we emerged onto the other side of the curious geological formations that separate the Upper Midwest from the heart of South America, we found ourselves in a bizarre tropical wonderland. I’m not sure if I can explain it adequately, but I’ll try. There were giant purple butterflies and shiny rainbows arching between glistening green mountains. There were rushing, pristine streams and dazzling flowers growing wild everywhere. There might have even been a giraffe or two, and I’m pretty sure that a volcano smoldered bewitchingly in the distance. All and all, it looked sort of like a Lisa Frank Trapper-Keeper cover illustration brought to life, if that means anything at all to you.

The actual Brazil is probably slightly less pink. And there aren’t any giraffes there, either. Which is sort of disappointing, when it comes right down to it.

Anyway, my friends and I took some time to drink in the wonder of it all. And then we wiped all the bat dung off of our clothes and went exploring. Shortly, we came to an establishment that was identical in all respects to the Sears store where I went to get my driver’s license when I was sixteen. Plunked down in the middle of a lush rainforest, it seemed somewhat out of place. Still, we were soon to discover that this Sears store wasn’t just any old Sears store, but instead the city of São Paolo.

“Oh! I’ve always wanted to visit São Paolo!” I enthused, and then we all went inside to shop for pants.

We didn’t have any trouble finding our way around. The only problem was our general reluctance to purchase clothing from a place like Sears, which isn’t known for it’s quality menswear. Still, we knew that the Brazilian climate can be sultry, so we felt that lighter cotton slacks would be appropriate. A long section of the dream involved us wandering among the pants racks, searching for our sizes. This was not particularly interesting and so, instead of rehashing it in detail, I’d like to take the opportunity to apologize to my Latin American readership for subconsciously confusing their great cities with Minnesota department stores. It sort of makes sense, though: I grew up in St. Paul, and here I was, dreaming of myself in São Paolo. So it’s sort of a sleepy-time cramming together of the place I came from and a place I want to go, made all the more convenient by the fact that the two towns have the same name. Someday I will make it to São Paolo—a city with a greater population than Los Angeles and Chicago combined---when I’m awake, and perhaps after that my dreams of it will become more respectable and creative.

Anyway, once we were finished shopping for summery trousers, one of us asked whether anyone spoke Portugese. One by one we all confessed that we didn’t. “Then how the hell can we buy these pants?” someone asked. “I’m not buying these pants if I have to buy them in Portugese,” someone else asserted. “We crawled through all that bat crap and no one can speak Portugese?” complained a third.

And that’s when I woke up.