Monday, December 3, 2007

A Horse of Another Choler

Shelly Lowenkopf woke up from a night of uneasy dreams to discover he had turned into a writer. This put him somewhere between Gregor Samsa, who did not come out too well, and Italo Calvino, who had been abducted by a group of space aliens who dictated a rather strange novel to him.

As such things go, it was neither a bad thing or a surprise to Shelly that he should awaken in the writer mode because once again the events of his waking life had intruded into his dream life. All too aware of the pressing needs of two editorial assignments and the fact that this week, the first week in December, is the final week of the semester, which means all twenty-four of his students will be turning in semester projects of at least sixty pages in length. Under such circumstances, Shelly is used to the arrival of an idea for a story, an idea that grabs hold of him and makes of him more of an insect than was made of Gregor Samsa.

Elmore Leonard's warnings against recounting dreams to the contrary notwithstanding, Shelly's dream began innocently enough with him navigating a windowless hallway that grew progressively more narrow as he proceeded. Reaching the dream equivalent of a dead end, a wall with neither door nor window nor indeed room in which to turn around, Shelly was made to feel the impossibility of backing his way out of this hallway with any degree of comfort or certainty, ratifying his growing concern that this was indeed a tight squeeze, as convincing a trick of the dream mind as a trompe l'oeil is a convincing artistic trick of the eye. Nothing for it but to wake up, resonating with a clinging sense of dread.

Relieved at length to discover that he had not transmogrified to an insect state, Shelly whiled away the time necessary to return to sleep by considering the nightmares of various professions and types:

The actor's nightmare is forgetting lines.

Another actor's nightmare is remembering lines from the wrong play.

The teacher's nightmare is being buried under a pile of student papers.

The writer's nightmare is being offered a contract on a book the contents of which are completely foreign to him/her.

The crossdresser's nightmare is appearing naked.

The editor's nightmare is having to explain to the writer the need to cut five thousand words.

The lawyer's nightmare is being convinced of the moral strength of his opponent's position.

The artist's nightmare is being understood.

The mailman's nightmare is a block in which every home has a pit bull.

The bus driver's nightmare is a passenger who pays the fare in pennies.

The auctioneer's nightmare is conducting an auction before an audience of individuals afflicted with Parkinson's syndrome.

The psychotherapist's nightmare is a patient who sees the truth on the first session.

The lion-tamer's nightmare is a lion with strabismus.

The politician's nightmare is being asked a question where the answer is a simple yes or no.

It is enough to keep one up nights.

Stephen Foster, the American composer, had issues with spiritus fermenti to the point where his wife warned him she'd be gone if there were one more binge.

Foster couldn't help himself and came tottering home one night, whereupon Mrs. Foster said she'd had it. While she was upstairs packing, Foster hurriedly composed his most memorable song as a peace offering, "I Dream of Jeanie." Of course it didn't help. Mrs Foster's name was Florence.


R.L. Bourges said...

oh, so excellent.

wordandcraft said...

"The artist's nightmare is being understood."

That's only funny because it's true! I found your blog thanks to Tiv and Smiler. Very interesting!

lowenkopf said...

LRZ: Ah, for the day when you can come out of the closet!

momof3: Thanks for the drop-by. As John Eaton (qv) would say, There's room at the table.

Lori Witzel said...

Damn damn I sit, stealing a moment from editing a direct marketing campaign, and now you've gone and made me yearn to the point of pain to be home working on a poem, or those book spreads.

BTW, lovin' your witty snorts and retorts on my squibs.

x said...

Psychotherapists only fear the patient finding the truth in the first session if they are in private practice. Those of us on salary don't care. Also, I love the idea of writing about yourself in the third person.

R.L. Bourges said...

shelly: i now have DREAMS about coming out of the closet, and posting my face on my blog and adding an email adress and JUST TYPING FROM MY DESK and GOOGLING UP SOMETHING and...(whimper)