It Was Just a Dream
I was sitting in a pub on January 15th, and the subject of dreams came up, amongst the patrons, and they tossed it about, in a slurry sort of fashion, each contributing something just a little more outrageous to the conversation. With dreams, it kind of goes with the territory. The old gent in the fedora, just sat there, sipping on his Jameson, seemingly content to absorb it all, without making a contribution.
“Sure, and what are you saying here, Seamus, you don’t dream?” Paddy was working on his 21st pint of the day, en route to 23, the number that always brought an end to that day’s effort, and a sidling out of the door for the night.
“No, not saying that at all, just that the dream that always comes to mind, as being memorable, was actually not all that memorable at all. Nothing but a birthday party.” He swirled the amber liquid in his glass, the tinkling of the ice, audible over the juke box and the hum of the conversation, and seemed once again content to let the whole matter remain in snooze control. Then William interjected his two cents’ worth, by blurting out, probably louder than he had intended in the lull in the pub dialogue,
“Well that’s grand! I love a birthday party and I have been to a few memorable ones myself. Let’s hear about it!” He settled back as though the matter were resolved, as indeed, it appeared to be, as Seamus killed his drink, and signaled for another one. “Strictly for medicinal purposes,” he intoned.
“I’ll just be after pausing a moment here, while I wait for something to wet my whistle, before I tell you about my birthday dream. I have found it becomes a thirsty bit of business, and me throat gets quite parched. Ah, thank you, Laddie. I think I’m ready.” Being ready meant still hovering long enough to allow Seamus to indulge in his ongoing practice, of gently swirling his libation, and observing the ensuing manner in which it settled back down to a semblance of calm. The rest of us waited patiently. We had heard the other dreams, and could not have distinguished one from another. We were waiting for something that would stand out, as being a little different from your average, run of the mill, mixed up, twisted, zany, unmemorable series of improbable events.
“You see, it wasn’t the dream itself, so much as the setting.” Swirl, swirl, moment of observation, sip...
“First of all, there were five of us, and we’d been partying hard in San Francisco, and were piled in a little ’64 Nova. We were heading back to Big Sur, a distance measured in time, rather than miles, because much of it dealt with driving the stretch from Carmel to Big Sur itself, along Highway One, and then beyond. It was a treacherous bit of highway.”
He was interrupted in the story by one of his mates. “Oh would you be getting to the dream, any time soon, Seamus. Me wife is thinking about getting preggers this evening, and I thought I’d like to be there.” Bert let out a guffaw, but did nothing to hasten Seamus along, who indeed, decided that a break in the action was called for, in order to pursue the more serious business of imbibing. Down the hatch!
“Another, if you please. Now where was I, before I was so rudely interrupted? Ah yes, the dream. I’ll get to the dream. In the dream I was at Peggy Callan’s birthday party. We were all there, all of us in our circle, including the sister, who went missing, but was found, after the whole community had turned out, to be fooling around with a beau, in the back of a ’57 Chevy. It was not a terribly long dream and I do not remember any profound dialogue; it was just a dream about a birthday party.”
There was a moment of silence, and then one of the lads worked up the gumption to ask, “Well, now, Seamus. If it was not a special circumstance, and there was no drama, why do you suppose you have remembered this particular dream, all of these year?” It was a reasonable question.
After a moment, in which Seamus swirled his drink one last time, before sending it on a mission to help lubricate his throat for his last delivery, he said, “I suppose I remember it, because I was driving that little Nova at the time, doing seventy miles an hour on the One-Oh-One, between San Francisco and Salinas. The car had drifted to the left side of the fast lane, and was easing its way toward the rushing chain link fence, when Steve, who was riding shotgun, with a rising sense of alarm, simply said my name, sharply, one time.
Instantly, I was awake and in full possession of me faculties, as I eased us back into the center of the fast lane, preparatory to relinquishing my role as driver. I was obviously more prepared to attend a birthday party, than I was to drive on the highway that night.”
Now there was total silence. The only movement was Paddy, who got up and departed, one pint shy of 23. It must have been something he ate.