grilled cheese at Danny's
Sunday, November 30 2003
setting: Mill Hall, Pennsylvania
This morning I awoke from a dream. At the time I was in room number 124 at the Traveler's Delite motel in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania.
The dream had placed me in the middle of a weird hybrid between two distinct and non-contiguous phases of my life. I was working for some sort of dotcom, where I existed as a largely-forgotten developer. Nobody was giving me any projects because they thought I was working on a really big project, but I wasn't really doing anything with my time except procrastinating. I'd show up to work without any shoes on and sneak into the back corner of an L-shaped conference room to drink coffee and stare blankly out of the window. This was what I was doing when I realized a large meeting had just settled about the big conference table around the bend. I was trapped, and the only way out was to walk meekly past all my colleagues (thankfully none of them worked in my department). While I was barefoot, they were all dressed in drab grey business suits, a monotonous conference of ties, skirts, hose, and makeup with people inside operating them like puppets.
I might have been procrastinating, but I was also deathly afraid of being fired. Every day I expected that today was the day. (I've had lots of dreams like this since leaving the dotcom universe.) As usual, the procrastination kept me from doing a lot more than just work. It also kept me from socializing, since hanging out was a hard thing to justify if I wasn't even doing the work for which I was paid.
My social circle, meanwhile, was comprised mostly of the pot smokers and hippies from my days spent in Oberlin (separated from the dotcom phase of my life by about eight years). My stoner friends kept telling me about various parties and get-togethers they were hosting (not that stoners actually put any work into organizing their get-togethers) and I kept not showing up. But eventually I decided I'd been letting my friends down for too long, so I agreed to visit them.
The stoners were all living in a dilapidated off-campus house, some of whose rooms leaked so badly that they'd been abandoned. I went to the room of the chief stoner (who happened to be my old friend George T. IV), and was immediately accosted by a guy wearing combat fatigues. This guy was some sort of bounty hunter who had been trying to arrange my capture for a long time. He claimed he'd paid the stoners $5000 to lure me here. But then the bounty hunter simply handed me a set of papers in a transparent plastic envelope and departed. The papers were a printout of a Power Point presentation specifying my various crimes. There were a few smaller bags in the envelope, and these contained little plastic models of airplanes and such. Evidently I had been wanted by the FBI for a nationwide vandalism spree, though I could only recognize one of the incidents for which I was being charged. Like most Power Point presentations, this one conveyed almost no meaning unless someone was standing there with a pointer to narrate. What was the relationship between the text and the plastic model airplanes? No one knew, and now the bounty hunter was gone.
I turned to my stoner friends and asked, "Is it true that you guys set me up for $5000." They all shrugged absent-mindedly and passed the bong. I continued, "Well, $5000 is a lot of money, so I sure hope you turned me in. And if you did, whoever did it, just so you know, you're an asshole." And that was where the dream ended.
Today the weather was sunny and clear, perfect for driving. On the way home our humble little Honda Civic managed 100 miles per hour at times. Gretchen was starving to death for most of the route, but we didn't stop for lunch until we got to Wurtsboro, NY. There we went to a Hurley Mountain Inn kind of place called Danny's, where all the waitstaff (without exception) suffered from various severities of acne. Gretchen had difficulty scaring up a vegetarian meal there, so she settled for a grilled cheese sandwich. I don't believe there's a single restaurant in America that can't make one of those. She opted for Swiss cheese instead of American, a seventy-five cent luxury. I had the fish and chips, which were extremely greasy but good nonetheless. The only time I've ever had bad fish and chips was the only time I ordered them in England, where they'd tasted like they'd been breaded in an old vacuum cleaner bag.
Further up 209, I started broadcasting goofy things on the CB radio. I'm basically a chickenshit when it comes to using it, since I don't really want to end up talking to anybody, particularly someone whose words are impossible to parse through gale-force static and an inexplicably heavy hillbilly accent. But on 209 I felt safe, since Channel 19 no longer crackled with activity. So I'd say things like "Breaker One Nine. Yeah, I'm up here on 209 near Accord, right near that snowman and Santy Clause. And I'm wondrin' are there any places I might could get me some fresh new DependsTM in as much as my current ones done filled up with you-rine?" Gretchen wasn't impressed, and she kept talking about how I was just making these broadcasts so I could talk about how wild and crazy I had been in my online journal. The implication was that the account I would write would fail to give the context, that nobody was listening.
Sally, Eleanor, Clarence, and Mavis greeted us enthusiastically when we finally came home. Oh shit, it was great to be back in the Catskills! Life feels like a vacation at our house in Hurley. The experience we'd just had in Pittsburgh (including getting there and coming back) had felt like back-breaking labor by comparison.
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