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Yakety Yak

Dreamed 1984/5/1 by Chris Wayan

Grampa's leaving Grandma. She's been bossing him sixty-four years, and he can't stand it any more. My mom drives us over to help him move out. In the car, my mom mentions she's planning to dump my dad, too. Says "You kids will have to split up or live on your own, I guess. I don't want you with me, Chris; maybe I can stand one of your sisters, but not both." So she's dumping us, too.

My dad shows up. He's mad about money, says "I want my share of the family inheritance now." Demands a three-way split, especially since Mom is dumping the kids on him. But when the shouting's over, Grampa and Mom keep all the money--my dad doesn't even get change for a bus ride home! He's red with rage.

Now I become my father. I see Grampa (my father-in-law) as my birth-dad, though he's not. I stubbornly want my share of the inheritance. So Grampa/dad says sourly "Fine, I'll get you some money" and leads me into the gas station next door and pulls a gun and tells the attendant "Gimme your cash!" The kid, white-faced, obeys... and Grampa-dad shoots him dead. Sheer spite. I/dad stand paralyzed. Grampa hands me a wad of blood-spattered cash and says "Here's your share, now quit your complaining." Facing the gun, I take it, though I don't want to, and feel ashamed I didn't stop the murder. Yeah, right, with no gun, no warning, no power.

Grampa orders me to drive the getaway car. I do it--at gunpoint. The only way I can express my grief and rage is to drive recklessly, way too fast. I HOPE I crash! I want to kill him before he murders more. Feel so guilty I don't care if I die too.

The dream shifts again. I realize I want to live--now it's my parents in the car who keep nagging me to speed up even more, though I'm already screeching on corners. They sneer "What's wrong with you? Coward! Floor it!" Do THEY want to die? But they feel more angry and reckless than guilty.

We drive to the Isle of Mona, which in the dream is off San Diego. Grampa says "I want food NOW!" and he has the gun, so we pull into a horrible truckstop. Dad eats rare beef. My mom picks at a salad. I'm a vegetarian with food allergies: every single item on the menu here is toxic for me, so I sit and starve. They say "Well, that's YOUR choice."

I think about returning to school and becoming a therapist. I could help others in dysfunctional families.

Then a short brown guy with a skull-thin face and big famine eyes, dressed like some fifties slum kid, in a torn bomber jacket and a squashy cap, walks up to me, ignoring my folks, and says...

"You and me, in high school we thought about college, thought we'd learn and get ahead. Now I know I ain't suited for it, and neither are you. We can't learn from college, we ain't intellectuals, theory don't mean shit to us. We learn from real life--from work, and pickin' up girls."

My parents stand up and chorus "Don't listen to him! He's not RESPECTABLE!"

A saxophone brays a laugh, and the background music suddenly rises to drown out both harangues. I know this tune--what is it? Then the Coasters sing:

You just put on your coat and hat
And take these clothes to the laundromat
And when you're finished doing that
Bring in the dog and take out the cat!
Don't talk back!

Don't you give me no dirty looks
Your dad is hip, he knows what cooks
Just tell your hoooodlum friend outside
You ain't got time to take a ride!
Don't talk back!

And as the Coasters take over my dream, I wake.


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