Oscar Wilde once wrote: ” A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave,” and I firmly believe that to be true. My mind misbehaves. My mind puts thing together in weird, creative, terminally-f’ed-up ways that make people look at me with their heads tilted and their eyebrows raised: especially when I say those thoughts out loud, which I often do, and which often makes me “that guy” at the party. But this is normal for an author: see people like new things in their fiction, and when we make new fiction we get positive reinforcement in the form of money and recognition: so our brain learns to do that messed up thing it did. It’s like Pavlov’s Dog meets Cards Vs Humanity: just a very bad positive feedback loop.
I say all this to prepare you for what may be an ongoing segment: Matt’s Dream Journal. We all have messed-up dreams, that’s true of us all. Dreams are our mind misbehaving, finding connections where there were none before… for someone who has taught their mind to be this way 24/7, this takes on some new meaning. You were warned
I’m at a bar, I’m not sure where where. It’s a hodge-podge of different bars I spent time in in my youth, with two floors. It’s dirt and grimy the way a lot of bars in downtown St. Johns are, when you get right down to it.
I’m standing on the stairs, in the doorway to the downstairs of the bar. It seems like a full house. Everyone’s having fun, there’s red solo cups everywhere. Which is a bit of an anachronism now that I write it down, because you don’t really see red solo cups at bars. But whatever.
So I’m standing in the stairs with my drink and I’m in the place I think I would have called “half-way there” in my twenties, which just adds to the illusion of the reality of the dream: drunk time has the same sort of unreality that dream time has, somehow. I’m standing in the stairs having quick three-second-long conversations with people as they walk by, because those are the type I’m best at: three seconds is the exact amount of time it takes for me to assess the situation, say something mildly witty, but not long enough that I take it too-far. Three seconds is really the ideal amount of time to enjoy Matt LeDrew.
One of the people that walks by me is Chris Walsh, author of the Gold and Steel series of novels. I’m not saying this to name-drop, that’s just how the dream worked. It’s part of what made it so memorable: what’s Chris doing here? That’s weird. Anyway, Chris is chatting for a moment and he happens to mention, under his breath and rather passively, that he’s won a Nobel Peace Prize.
I do the face-lurched forward, almost-spitting-my-drink face that I do when I’m surprised. “As Fierce as Steel won a Nobel Peace prize?” I ask, astonished.
“No,” he says, smiling at his feet. “I wrote a paper on astrophysics in my spare time.”
This is around the point where I think, typically, I would have been aware I was dreaming. But no, my brain buys this completely: Chris Walsh, wrestler and fantasy author, also dabbles is astrophysics. I’m not saying he’s not a smart man, he is, but there are only so many hours in the day.
Hearing that my peer has had this momentous achievement, I stop him from going upstairs (despite his protests that he’s going to be late) and do what I always do when I find out someone did something amazing: I drag them into a group of strangers and let them know. That’s not dream-logic me, that’s real-life me. In a move that’s equal parts “you should be proud” and “let’s make you blush because I have never known what shame is and find it interesting in others,” I present my talented friends to total strangers for my own amusement. I’m a bit of a dick like that.
So in clasp a firm hand onto the meat of Chris’s shoulder and bring him over to a circle of strangers talking. Or at least, I thought they were strangers, because in wonderful dream-logic fashion I knew every one I looked at. One was my friend’s wife Kim, and their daughter Chloe. They were hugging one another just like they do in their Facebook profile picture and laughing at me as I stumbled with Chris into this crowd.
It’s a group of women, and I believe I’m trying to play a game of “Haaaaave you met Ted?” but with Chris replacing Ted. I’m a little funny on this point of the dream logic. As far as can discern, I’m trying to pull a bait-and-switch on these women, to present Chris as a muscular nice-guy (which he is) and then shock them with the revelation that he’s also a certified genius (which he may be, I don’t know. Possibly?)
“Hello ladies,” I say as I cut into the crowd. “I’d like to perform a little experiment if you don’t mind participating, sorry for interrupting.”
For those of you going, ‘wow what a weird dream’… no I have and will continue to do this. I’m that guy who can walk up to a crowd of new people and just be like “pardon, attention please,” and about 3/4 of the time I get it. Not sure why I haven’t been punched more, honestly.
I point to a young woman across from me, who happens to be an acquaintance of mine named Lisa. Why Lisa is here, I’m not sure. She’s a five-foot-nothing bleach-blonde that weighs all of ninety pounds as has a laugh you can hear for miles and these great, huge eyes. I point to her and say: “You! Play along with me for a second will you? What do you think about this guy?”
Lisa starts to laugh into her red solo cup and walks past me, heading up the stairs. I think she bumped my shoulder as she went! I was as shocked by this in the dream as I am in real life! Lisa’s such a sweetheart! Great! Intelligent! Friendly! What’s going on?
I turn back to the group with my eyebrow raised, and all of the other women are kind-of scoffing with their lips curled. “Don’t mind her Matt. She just realized she’s hot and thinks she’s better than everyone now.”
Not that anyone out there in the Internet will know who I’m talking about — Lisa being a terribly common name and all — but she ain’t like that.
So I ask for a volunteer and nobody steps forward. I try to pick one or two people and they just laugh, Kim and her daughter are laughing at me, because it’s all just funny now: my failure at this social endeavor is overwhelming their desire to be nice, and I feel Chris trying to shuffle away.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, Ashley Boone steps out of the crowd like a mother-lovin’ superhero to pick up for me. Ashley Boone is currently working on a comic-book adaptation of one of my stories: again, not sure why she’s here, not trying to plug, just the way it happened.
Ashley steps out of the crowd and says: “I’ll play. What’s going on, Matt?”
I steam ahead, all shame gone now that I have a player, much like real life: “What do you think of this guy?”
She muddles through a polite response as any kind person would.
“Well,” I say, savoring my drum-roll moment, “This guy just one a Nobel Prize.”
The entire bar stops, with that kind of silence that can ony really exist in movies. Everyone is shocked and awed, looking at the blushing Chris Walsh, who is smiling despite himself.
Out of nowhere (really, he hadn’t been there a moment ago), a bully who picked on me in grade school steps out of the crowd and gives Chris a congratulatory slap on the arm, then embraces both of us in a bear hug, as he yells: “A mother-f’ing Nobel Prize? Shit man that’s amazing, you mother-f’er!” He then buys us both a round.
We eventually all head upstairs, where there is, inexplicably, a giant wrestling ring. This is what Chris was going to be late for. he steps into the ring and proceeds to embarrass me by calling me out and thanking me for all my support from one of the big hanging-from-the-ceiling square-microphones that only exist in wrestling it seems. This fantasy-writing astrophysicist then proceeds to be the main event, pile driving anyone who wants to take him on into submission to a crowd that cheers him on.
So that was my night. That woke me up at 4am with deep thoughts of WTF is wrong with me.
… I think it’s about Peer Acceptance. Seems to be a common thread through the whole thing, right? I’m on the stairs, caught between two things but never being a part of either. I see a friend and want to share in his glory, but I get laughed at my the attractive members of the opposite sex, until finally we reveal our worth and then, for some reason, an unresolved antagonist from the past comes in and announces his acceptance of us as well, and then everyone is on our side.
Yeah I think it’s safe to interpret this as an anxiety dream about longing for peer acceptance, although I’m open to other interpretations.
Like I said, my brain is a weird place, and it misbehaves.