Dreamed 1984/5/20 by Chris Wayan
My housemate Harriet tells me her ex-lover, witty little olive-skinned Lucy, has decided to go home to her wealthy family in England--and to the surface heterosexuality her family expects. Back into the closet! Especially troubling for Harriet, since she had a hell of time facing her own preference and divorcing her husband. Though she's certainly been consoling herself... Ruth and Lucy and Carlotta and May and... But it's true none of them have stuck, so far. Is she still working Bill out of her system?
Though I shouldn't talk. During the same period, I haven't dated anyone at all. Who am I working out of MY system?
I'm watering the garden while talking with a girl nicknamed Sultry. The water's too strong, it erodes the soil; I half-block the hose with my thumb, to spray more indirectly. But the flowerbed still floods. So do the walks. So does the whole yard!
We wade, then swim over to the rowboat and climb in. It has a submersible bubble top, which I slide on, and we dive and glide between coral reefs with fish like flowers, burning with color. Sultry's entranced by the light and won't come up. But the hose-current's driving off the tropical fish, including one little olive-colored one who I assume is a parasite. That's a bit unfair; it could be a gill-groomer. In any case, the olive one gets washed into a closet.
Sultry's so turned on by the fish she has to stay and look for more. REALLY turned on--she's naked, her clit's erect and as big as a small penis. I get a weird feeling, half excitement/erection, half BURNING. Hot blood-waves, rather like the gut-inflammation I've been getting. I'm puzzled, then suddenly realize I'm picking the pain up from HER. The little Lucy fish (and all the others) turn her on, but her sexual feelings are sore and twisted up... by her ex-husband! She tends toward exhibitionism, fits of anger, and teasing. Lonely but avoids commitment, sleeps around but just uses her lovers for sexual relief, so she stays secretly free. Free and unhappy.
Next day, I return. The place looks like the De Young Museum, a big blocky castle with an obelisk-tower. Ask for Sultry, talk with the gardener a bit, who knows her. Admit I'm attracted, but afraid to come on to her--fear she'll hurt me. Her ex-husband really did a job on her! He's cold, critical, manipulative... his name may have become a byword for rationality, but Aristotle's hell to live with.
I'm not just guessing--I know the guy. MY ex-wife Faye, who I'm still friends with (she's totally impractical, but sweet) remarried a few years ago. Guess who her husband is... They have a child now. And she's miserable, the kid's miserable... Aristotle ignores them just as he ignored Sultry! It isn't Faye's character--she and Sultry are night and day, but he treats them just the same. It's him. His pattern. Aristotelian illogic.
But his public reputation's so formidable that few believe our tales of his personal coldness and cruelty.
I walk on past the gardens into a flat valley-bottom, studded with oaks. A crowd is gathered--it's a huge town-meeting, everyone's come to hear Aristotle preach. A high earthen bank's been raised across the valley, representing Aristotle's propositions. In fact the very force of his argument RAISED the wall!
How can I oppose him? A man who, given a place to stand on, can move the earth with his logic?
I climb the dike of his thought, and suddenly I answer him. From passion or intuition, I don't know, maybe both. But I challenge Aristotle. Out of my dreams I shape bright-colored, crystalline baffles, disk-like short walls at right angles to his great berm, intersecting it, forming collars blocking the logical flow. Each one rises from the field, climbs the slope of his dike, and sinks back into the dirt down the other slope. A bit irregular, neither a wall nor a maze, never really blocking his path--if you can't climb over my baffles you can always just walk around their ends--but it's a whole parade of challenges. Insults! "I baffle you, Aristotle!" I yell from atop one of my color-walls, across to the man on the podium.
Now my bright irritants tilt till they tip over like dominos, turning from walls into scaly terraces, like giant's stairs. Instead of blocking the path, they make the climb easy--a bridge of dreams into the sky! Held up, reluctantly, by logic.
Aristotle's red with rage. I can't help grinning. Got him at last!
I spot a friend of mine in the crowd and invite her to walk upstairs with me. We're old lovers--Jennifer's in an open marriage now, for her husband knows he can't satisfy her alone, no single man can: she needs variety. She drags along her husband and two other lovers I don't know, and says to me "What a pity your other soulmates aren't here too! Where's Faye? Where's Sultry? They both should come too. You're like me, after all." And I look up at the cold, unitary spine of logic, clashing so with the rainbow chaos of my dreams, and realize it's true. I'm not unified. Why'd I expect to find just one soulmate?
That's Aristotle's path, and he's no fun.
NOTES THE NEXT MORNING
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