I have to share something. I once again caught myself acting like an old man, and it was quite disturbing. Rather than suppress the experience in my memory vault, however, I feel the need to let it out, like you as readers are therapists and I am a patient in search of answers, or at least someone to listen to me. Allow me to take my position on the couch.

Here’s what happened…I went to Carmax to purchase a more durable back section cover for my Saturn station wagon. Stay with me, people. There’s so much more. Upon completing the transaction, I became excited to discover that I had exact change in my pocket… genuinely excited! Let’s add this up, shall we. First, we should define the variables in the equation:

a = Carmax
b = practical car accessory

c = Saturn station wagon
d = $63 and 84 cents exactly
e = authentic giddiness

a + b + c + d + e = what the F is wrong with me?
(Solve for F)

What’s even sadder is the fact that the situation presented plenty of opportunities for me to realize I was acting old. Driving a station wagon into a Carmax parking lot, for example. Or seeing Carmax representatives ignore me and my potential trade-in vehicle. But no…the moment it became clear was when I said, “Hey! I have exact change! Sweeeeet.”, totally oblivious to the not-so-subtle look of pity from the cashier girl.

I hate to say this, but it gets worse. That story never happened. At least in real life. It was all a dream I had last week. Most people, at least mentally-balanced single men, dream of all sorts of cool scenarios. Not me, though. Apparently I have subconsciously wired my brain to think along the lines of practical living and good sense frugality. Maybe next week I’ll wake up in a cold sweat after a nightmare involving basic groceries and pages of coupons. God help me. Now, when I do go to a grocery, and I see those tabloid papers highlighting a boy who ages at a rapid pace, I think of me and try desperately to chuckle.

Indeed…What the hell is wrong with me? I honestly felt shame when I woke up from the Carmax dream, then once again after my mind somehow took me back to that world when I finally fell back asleep. That never happens, as we all know. You normally never go back to dreams after waking from them. My brain is different now. It comes with some kind of dream screen saver, but it only activates that feature during occasional night visions of embarrassment and humiliation, as if to tell me, “Welcome back, Keith. Just in case you forgot why you awoke feeling disgraced, here’s where we left off.”

Why can’t I return to dreams I like having? Like when I’m hanging out with three girls in a hot tub, or when I’m punching Hugo Chavez in the face? Evidently I’d have to envision them working at Carmax. If I can solidify that image in my head, then maybe I can trick my mind in some sort of trap. But I’m sure it would backfire. For example, I’d be in a dream, again at Carmax, and I would ask some girls there about installing a hot tub in my station wagon. But I tell the ladies that to get the full effect, I’ll have to take a test drive with them. When they tell me I need to get permission from their boss, who happens to be that jackass Chavez, I’ll sucker-punch him. When I turn back, the girls will be looking on in awe, and then right before we all make out with each other, my brain will betray me and revert back to its normal mode, at which point I would probably say something like, “Did anyone clean this hot tub? There could be bacteria and nasty residue on the jets.” And then, again, I would awake suddenl in a cloud of ignominy. I know that sounds like a negative attitude, to think that I can’t have fun in dreamland, but I can’t help it in this case. If my own brain can play ugly tricks on me during what should be fantasy time, then I’m afraid of its power even if I try to battle it.

That, by the way, is precisely what this was…an ugly trick from my brain. When a dream is vivid enough to remember in detail the next day, some people can’t help but wonder if it’s prophetic. My Carmax dream was certainly vivid. At least vivid enough to frighten the crap out of me. I don’t know about it being prophetic. Pathetic? Certainly. Prophetic? It’s safe to say that I hope it stays as fictional as possible. Just to be sure, however, I no longer carry change in my pockets.

Categories: Columns