Dreamed 1994/6/1 by Chris Wayan
My friend Stanley's just back from France, and wants to hike in Marin and tell me his big news. His girlfriend Caroline is pregnant! He's planning to marry her and move to France for good. He adds "I don't love her, but I like her a lot, and it may grow to love." He seems motivated by a sense of responsibility and excitement about being a father. I don't ask if they ever talked about contraception--did they deliberately allow this possibility or were they just tongue-tied about sex? Like me...
I'd feel trapped and miserable in his situation. I have no desire to be a parent. Far too wrapped up in myself; I wouldn't want to pass on the neglect and abuse I got, that I still act out all too often.
Stanley's big worry is different: that they won't get along, or that he'll fall in love with someone else. They don't know each other that well; back before he knew she was pregnant I recall him saying he was attracted to other women more strongly, she wasn't his ideal. Even before marriage, he has fears about divorce and custody. But he loved France--Toulon, on the Riviera--and her family. Finding work there will be hard, but he's determined to go through with it...
I eat hastily as he says he's coming right over. He arrives an hour late... hungry. I find things for him, watching myself give in to his pace and preferences. Finally, driving across town, he says "I need a coffee to go, I'll only be a minute." I double park and sit in the car feeling uncomfortable as it stretches to five or ten. Waiting on Stanley, as always.
Stop at Vitamin Express. Stanley effortlessly starts conversation with the girls who work there. A man starts telling him about alternative allergy treatments that helped him, and gives us free coupons, saying "The allergist hands you a vial of a possible toxin and its vibrations thru the glass get you, that's the test, and you cure yourself by holding the antigen vial in your hand."
Sheesh... no wonder the stuff is free!
Stanley goes on talking to him for fifteen minutes, I'm bored and the meter has run out, and he goes on and on. Do I risk a ticket or feed it quarters?
I want his lack of anxiety, his assumption that he charms people. True or not, it works like a charm--no one's rude enough to say who the hell are you, buddy? Never seen any stranger bristle. Only friends--as they see he doesn't much notice their feelings. I feel like I let him get away with a lot because I want to learn Stanley's great skill--assuming strangers will like him.
Sausalito. A deli. I'm feeling sick from the heat and stress of driving. Stanley buys me a sandwich. Stinks of fish. I'm vegetarian. Open it, it's not fish. Beats me. Force it down. Into the oven, excuse me the car, and I drive up to Muir Woods.
I feel better shaded by the redwoods, as if I'm under their protection. Walk up the valley. Stop and sit on a bridge high up on the main stream, above the last redwoods. Steep, rocky. An Australian woman galumphs down and says "It gets steeper and steeper ahead." Three cute girls tromp by at the speed of sound. We stay on the bridge. Long talk about France, Caroline, her father, Stanley's father who says "your career is the important thing, don't give up your career!" which is odd, since Stanley has no career.
Back at my car, a spring in the door falls out! I can't put it back, I'm not strong enough. The door opens and closes without it. Stick the spring in the back and drive on.
A lovely little valley leads down to Muir Beach. Hike out to a little cove on the right where locals hang out. Not too visible from the main beach.
Two little dogs follow Stanley and ignore me. I immediately think "Even the dogs are charmed." Their owner walks up and says "My dogs think your friend is my husband, because he's wearing the same shoes. We have the dumbest dogs in the world." Oh.
Trail goes inland along the creek. Reeds loom over our heads. By the tiny bridge, meet a man holding a huge dog in his arms. Staggers over to the water and throws the dog in, then croons "GOOD dog!" as it swims out. Picks up wet dog again and tosses it in. "GOOD dog." And again... He flushes seeing us, and mutters something about "She rolled on a dead seal." Well, that explains everything. SPLASH "GOOD dog" paddle pant paddle pant SHAKE splatter wet dog grunt stagger stagger SPLASH, "GOOD dog"...
Drive back. Stanley pays the toll but doesn't buy gas as he promised, doesn't have enough on him, says "I will though." I drive along the Marina toward home, so tired I'm worried about driving safely. Drop him off--he says "Hey you want to have dinner together? I have to come by your house anyway to get my bike, I'll bring stuff." I hint very unsubtly that I want to just eat and rest alone, but he doesn't take the hint. I park down the block from my house... and lock my keys in the car! The house is dark--Sean is home and lets me in, but I had to wake him up. Joy may be in Berkeley, he hasn't seen her. I can't find a spare house or car key so I'm stuck here till she comes back. Tomorrow? Who knows? The car may not be here by then--keys sitting in the ignition, door damaged. Anyone beefy could open it, though I can't.
I'm in a foul mood. Staggering around like I aged twenty years in the last hour. Cook soup, bake potatoes. Make bread but it doesn't rise--same exact recipe as last time. Liquid too hot, did I kill the yeast?
Doorbell, but it isn't Stanley. A Sierra Club volunteer wanting money. I just want to eat. She talks to my nice persona which holds me at the door helplessly, while I scream inside "I just want to eat and lie down! LET ME GO!" Ten minutes of soft sell, I can't get away... I start to eat just as Stanley finally shows up. No money, forgot to bring anything but eggs. I just ignore it all, intent on eating. Stanley rearranges the letters on the fridge to "Bite my busy homo fuck head..." I feel angry and embarrassed (as always) when he puts down gay men and say "why don't you add some racial slurs while you're at it?" He doesn't even get it. I find myself apologizing for him: He's come a long way from being a juvie junkie in Brooklyn.
Sean leaves the room. Stanley's a hit, all right. Midnight before he goes, and all the while I was split between a part encouraging him to stay and offend me, and a part that's sick of him.
I'm glad Stanley's leaving. That French girl will have to deal with him now. But I've paid a price just being around Stanley's lack of anxiety. He taught the anti-change parts of me that social confidence leads to being a pushy asshole. So, they argue, why learn confidence?
Confidence corrupts, and absolute confidence corrupts absolutely.
I dream I'm riding a bus through the San Francisco night. The driver takes us beyond the official end of the route to a rough abandoned street near the Bay, where a secret convocation meets: the Midnight Fraternity of Bus Drivers! Busses loom from the dark to form a Stonehenge ring. The Drivers wear long dark robes. A group of them, all women, stand on a pier--I want to stop and join them, some are quite sexy. Not all wearing the long robes either--some seem more fun, less formal.
But no, the driver takes us to his own destination: his branch of the order, all-male, meeting very solemnly to mourn a member who died of AIDS. I'm handed a robe. Its sleeves are rolled up, makes me feel silly--skinny with poofy puffy things, like a human poodle. I roll them down to cover my arms.
I have mixed feelings--the candle-lit march and funeral procession, which is also an ongoing political protest about AIDS funding, is important, but I just don't want to do it. I want to eat, rest, and join the women, who weren't solemn looking at all.
On the podium is the evening's featured speaker: God. God lectures us about death, suffering, service... I feel pinned down again, can't escape... mustn't be rude to God!
Wait--did I ask to come to this funeral? I don't even know this guy!
I step through a gap in the wall and start to sneak away from the ceremony. I slink off in the dark.
Meet a man who hisses at me. Oh. Stanley. He whispers "We're gonna blow up the Pyramid, man! C'mon!" The Transamerica Pyramid, symbol of the corporate army occupying our town. He leads us up through the Pyramid. Up close, it's several stages, each an asymmetrical sculpture! Only the rough outline is pyramidal. The sculpted shapes are beautiful. Never mind who owns it, I don't want to spoil this building!
But Stanley doesn't notice, says "the only way straight up is by the double stair. None of the elevators go all the way through, they end at each stage, you have to transfer. Stupid design, vulnerable--get the stair and you got em, those greedy, insensitive pigs!" The stairs aren't straight, they're a double spiral.
DNA! Genes! I'm climbing the genetic code!
In a tower of greed. Greed's in our genes. Oh, Stanleyism will never change. We'll never change.
Or so I think as, yet again, I follow Stanley, up the stair...
IN THE MORNING
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