Stardate 73521.3 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream Interpretation)

Telluride Daily Planet, Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dust motes hang in the watery late-afternoon light. Recumbent on a velvet couch, I am stroking the sensuous fabric. But my skin is dry. There’s a hangnail. Where am I? How did I get here?

I suddenly feel the weight and form of a pastry in my other hand and glance down. Viennese. I guess I am a tiny bit hungry. As the pastry nears my lips, powdered sugar puffs into the air, and forms a small cloud in the dimly lit room. In the shape of a bunny.

Dr. Fr: [from behind] If you wouldn’t mind, eating is not permitted here. No oral fixations of any kind. Or crumbs.

MCW: Hm? Hey, what is this? A dream or something?

Dr. Fr: You tell me. Does it seem like a dream? Feel like a dream?

MCW: I don’t know…. Last I remember, it was a cold January night in the mountains. Full moon. I was in bed – restless — trying to decide if it would be worth returning some Cuties that were past their prime. God, I hate it when they’re soft.

Dr. Fr: [pauses] Now it’s sounding like a dream. And a rich one.

MCW: Oh, please: Cuties are diminutive oranges. Anyway, this doesn’t feel absurdist or fantastical or overly metaphorical. Then again, I did materialize a piece of perfect strudel, and I’m talking to —

Dr. Fr: No, you’re not. You’re talking to a holographic version of him, a dream within a dream, if you will. Which hardly even counts.

MCW: Really? I thought they were the most advanced kind. The kind when you actually think you’re awake within the drea–

Dr. Fr: Not in this case. Your subconscious mind found it necessary to frame an inquiry of yours within Star Trek’s holodeck. Which is where you are. Trying clumsily to parse an inquiry about the recurrent dream that’s back, the one about going off to–

MCW: Stop! Please

Dr. Fr: …to you-know-where.

MCW: I hate that dream! Why can’t I just let it go? And have holodeck fun in my holodeck dream?

Dr. Fr: Not you. Not tonight. You wanted me here and I’m here. Why does everybody like this silly holodeck so much?

MCW:  Because: the holodeck is pure escapism, Mr. Fantasy Pants.

Dr. Fr: I’ll spare you my launching into the real origins of that pun. And would you mind not putting the soles of those shearling slipper-things on my couch?

MCW: The couch again? Really?? Better be careful or I’ll plug other characters into my holodeck-programming subconscious. Bullwinkle. Or, no —  the real housewives of New Jersey! You wouldn’t have a clue what to do with that.

Dr. F: You underestimate. Nor are you in control of your Dreamland, little girl.

MCW: I’m not a little girl.

Dr. F: All women are little girls just like all men are little boys. And you’re a little girl back in college—back at the crossroads of life.

MCW: Dammit it, Freud! Did I ask you not to go there?

Dr. F: Don’t be shrewish. [sing-song-y] Crossroads, crossroads, crossroads.

MCW: Eating a single pastry in an isolated instance isn’t an oral fixation, either, Freud-face.

Dr. F: That was a joke.

MCW: Now I know it’s not really you. You’re a projection I fabricated, erroneously, based on popular knowledge, in order to make myself feel smart. I generated your sense of humor, too. Which you probably never had.

Dr. F: Yup: your daughter will be going off to college soon. Which will leave you–

MCW: The dream is unrelated to that! I’ve been having it since I was twenty-five years old.

Dr. F: But this time, you bolted awake, panicked, right when you were supposed to find out who your eighteen-year-old roommate would be.

MCW: [expiring on couch] I know. I know! [shoving strudel into mouth] What — you have some great insight? Separation anxiety masking as roommate anxiety? Fear of death? Fear of competition with my daughter? Might as well just tell me so I can wake up.

Dr. Fr: [puffing on cigar, making bunny clouds of his own] Oh, so now you want me, a fabrication of your limited mind and comprehension, to corroborate your limited self-diagnosis? I’d say, bring in Bullwinkle and the housewives. Might add nicely to the mix.

MCW: [dream smiling] Really? [pastry disappears; then couch] “Thank you, Dr. Freud.” I’ve always wanted to say that. Maybe that’s … [fading to a black and dreamless sleep]… what this dream was all about.

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