Perchance, to Dream: Chapter 1

The bright lights of the waiting room glared off of the glossy magazine page, making Hayne curse under his breath. It was an old issue of National Geographic and this particular article was saying something about bees.

Or buzzing.

The bees weren’t buzzing right and they kept dying off.

Or they were getting sick.

The buzzing was probably just his head, the bees were on the page. That sounded right. Either way, Hayne had been reading the same paragraph for almost 30 minutes.

Hayne looked at his watch. The camera in it followed his eyes, calculated the distance, and projected the information just above the screen. 32 minutes, actually.

“Hayne?”

“Yep.”

“Right this way, sir.”

Hayne got up, and his ears began ringing slightly. He followed the nurse down an unpleasantly white hallway and was directed into a doctor’s office. Another copy of the National Geographic was in the office, but this one had crayon drawings all over it. Hayne thought that it was a nice touch, since the dull crayon was the least glaring thing in the office.

“Alright, just a minute and Dr. Lethe will be here,” the nurse said, closing the door behind her.

Hayne looked around the office. There were numerous posters about healthy sleeping habits. One claimed that going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day could increase your IQ by 50 points. The picture showed a young man with a frizzy grey wig on in a tasteless impersonation of Einstein.

“Hello!” The doctor said, slightly too loud for Hayne’s headache, and sat down at the desk. “So what brings you to Somnolence? ”

“Well, I haven’t been sleeping well. I don’t dream. I just go to sleep, and when I wake up, it feels like 5 minutes have passed, but I’ve been asleep all night.”

“I see,” he turned and a screen lit up on his desk. “How do you know you were asleep?”

“What?”

“If you were asleep, you weren’t conscious. How would you know you were sleeping?”

“I’m not sure I know how to answer that.”

Lethe wrote something down on his screen, making a slight, “hmm.”

“Tell me about your last dream.”

“Well, I’m not sure I remember the last time I had one.”

“Are you dreaming now?”

“…no.” Hayne said, really drawing out the O.

“Am I a dream?” He enunciated each word sharply. “Let me ask you this: the nurse, was she a robot or human?”

“Uh, I guess, human?”

“But you’re not certain?”

“I suppose not.”

Lethe turned to his screen again with another, “hmm.”

“One more question: how many am I holding?” He was holding his hand out, slightly cupped.

“I…are you…” Hayne opened and closed his mouth a few times as he mentally scrolled through all the words he knew to see if any of them would help.

Lethe snatched his hand back. “Very interesting. We’ll need to keep you overnight for observation. Are you free tonight?”

“Uh, sure. Tonight works fine. Do you…uh, do you have any idea what’s going on?”

“None whatsoever. The nurse will provide you with the information you need.” With that, Dr. Lethe stood, pivoted on his heel, and walked out of the room.

 

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Bro Skater

I began skateboarding in 9th grade. One of my brothers bought me my first real board, and we would skate at the nearby elementary school parking lot. We had the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater demo that came free with a large, any-topping, Pizza Hut pizza, and fancied ourselves real f-ing thrashers.

One day, while rippin’ shiz up at Edison Elementary, my brother gets a great idea,

“Ok, I’m gonna get going on the swing, you toss me my board, I’ll jump off, and land. Easy.”

“Wait, throw you your board in the air?”

“No, while I’m swinging. It’ll be just like jumping off swings as a kid”

“…ok.”

My brother seemed convinced that this was a great idea. At this point, I could’ve said a few different things, all pointing to how this was a dumb idea, and likely to cause some form of injury. After all, there were a lot of moving parts (literally) to this plan: my brother on the swing, my questionable aim with a skateboard, him being able to catch a skateboard on a swing, and his timing of the jump. I’m the younger brother, though and caution isn’t our M.O. as a general rule.

So we put the plan into motion. He gets on the swing and builds up speed.

Actually, let me pause him there and set the scene a little better. I say elementary school swing set, but erase the image you have right now of a modern elementary school play-ground. Take out the rubber padding on the ground, spread down some nice gravel, raise the top bar of the up to 10 feet, and give the swings some metal chains with just a touch of rust. There we go.

Okay, he’s maxing out, head popping up over the top rail, and gives me the signal to throw him the board. I toss the board to him as he’s reaching the bottom of the downward swing and he snatches it out of the air. He swings up, and jumps off.

He jumps off at the very top of his arc.

Do you remember jumping off of swings? It was a fun physics lesson. Imagine the swing chain straight up and down. That’s the 90 degree point. For maximum distance, a kid should jump off at 45 degrees. Since he jumped off at the 0 degree point, he had no forward momentum or vertical momentum. This wasn’t great for him.

I watched as my brother rotated forward, and spread his arms into a swan dive, and hit the ground. He hit it hard. I saw him bounce off of the gravel.

It was a while before my brother could breathe without feeling pain in his ribs, but the memory of seeing the house across the street in the space between my brother and the ground as he bounced tickles my ribs to this day.

 

Finale

I may be the only person that feels sad when they think about the series finale of Wings. Well, I suppose the actors probably felt sad. I dunno. Anyway, as a kid, I felt like I was watching people leave on the last day of camp. I couldn’t tell you what happened, or even any of the character’s names, but I remember that feeling so vividly. To this day, I dislike the ends of sitcoms. Not even just the finales, I typically stop watching when the story arc is on it’s downward swing.

I think it’s because I become invested in the characters, as any fan of a show does, and don’t want to end the relationship with them. A good TV show gets you to understand these characters like you know them in real life. They have motives, they have dreams, plans futures, failings, flaws.

And we get to talk about them.

Constantly.

And not even feel bad about it!

Unlike real life, though, I don’t need to watch the finale. Ross will always be chasing Rachael. Fonzie never gets on that motorcycle. Mel Gibson never guest stars on the Simpsons. I can stay where I want to stay, see the story I want to see, and never reach an ending.

This may sound unhealthy. You may be thinking, “Well that’s life, buddy. Things end. Get over it.” That’s the thing; things in life do end. There’s often nothing we can do about it but watch something we had grown to love come to an end while a clip-show wrap-up runs through our head in slow-mo to Time of Your Life or whatever kids are crying about these days. We just have to go through it.

I know that the bitter makes the sweet, and you need to see a story through, but life throws enough endings at us as it is. For me, Bob Hope will always be dreaming.