Courtesy of the incomparable and divine Rebecca Hengstenberg.
One of my least favorite moments in one of my most favorite children's books occurs at the end of Alice in Wonderland.
She wakes up, and the dream is over. And as she wipes the sand from her eyes we catch a glimpse of some of the so-called benign objects that perhaps influenced her foray into Wonderland: A deck of playing cards, a chessboard, her cat Dinah, wildflowers, and a book without any pictures.
I've always found that bitter pill a little too hard to swallow.
Really... these ordinary items induced a dream about insensed queens, jabberwokies, insects smoking hookahs, lions fighting unicorns, and babies turning into pigs? I wasn't buying it.
I used to be obsessed with watching as many film and tv adaptations as I could get my hands on, just so I could see how they solved the "problem" with the end.
Still do (thank you, Netflix).
But I now see Caroll's logic. Or un-logic, as it were.
I've just woken from my own Wonderland of sorts.
It began with me walking along a very quiet and residential corner of Manhattan's lower east side on a very overcast and gloomy Sunday afternoon when a strange feeling overcame me and I paused at a crosswalk.
I can't tell you exactly how it felt.
I just remember that it resulted in me staring at the trees. They began to wave quite vigorously, and yet there was no wind to warrant such behavior.
I then recorded both the silence and the stillness that seemed to follow their rustling.
I also took note of the vacancy of all peoples in my private corner.
And then... movement.
The street began to tear in great jerking waves quite near my feet.
A car alarm went off beside me, and I suddenly noticed that I had been parked by a police car.
The cop inside looked as startled as I was, and seemed not to know how to go about escaping from his vehicle.
Before it could register for me to help him, another alarm from another police car began to peal across the street in front of me; snapping me out of my thoughts.
I swiveled around to run, took to my legs, and was suddenly skidding to a halt in the living room of my former house-rental in Chicago. After a moment of mentally righting myself, I discovered that I was also not alone. Standing there were two guys around my age who look also to be struggling with like confusion and disorientation.
I went straight for the bathroom.
Made sense to me.
I could almost hear their crisis thoughts: "He looks like he knows where he is going. Go with him."
Before my hand could reach the knob, the door blasted open and splayed in front of us was a scene straight out of Dante's Inferno. Teeth of stalagmites and stalagtites closed-in from the depths of a gaping maw of fire, ash, and broiling steam. Billowy clouds of grey smoke surged, sporadically slashed with beams of light of a sickly green and yellow hue. The cavern seemed to dwindle into an infinity of yellow fire beyond, while the foreground displayed a black and oily rock which boasted a man-sized demon --- scaly, horned, and fanged --- sprawled on top of it.
It called out to us in a keening roar. But not beckoning. It pleaded for help.
A general knowledge descended then:
The Hellmouth had opened in my bathroom as a direct result of the sizemic earthquake in New York City just days ago (thank you, Joss Whedon).
People had started calling it The Big Ass Quake, which was closely followed by the Big Apple Quake.
However, the latter was quickly abandoned when the hip general public began not only to feel sorry for the victims of said quake, but also, felt the name was a bit too on the nose.
My companions wasted no time and sprang into action. Crossing the threshold, they proceeded to marvel and argue in front of the demon exactly which one of them was going to save the world from a fate worse than death; each declaring their own prowess and obvious qualifications.
My head, meanwhile, was still reeling from the news.
I turned away from them only to find two more young companions --- both female --- who also seemed to suddenly struggle with appearing out of the blue.
Champion 1 & Champion 2 left the bathroom/Hellmouth, shutting the door behind them. Unaware of the ladies, they crossed the living room, and stalked off to the two nearest bedrooms, slamming their doors in a huff.
It was at this point I realized that I REALLY had to pee.
And since the bathroom was occupied, I bid the ladies turn around while I did my business in a toilet bowl that suddenly materialized near the entrance to the kitchen. They giggled and shared a moment of quick reparte making themselves fast friends, and, finally, turned their backs on me.
Halfway through my constitutional I looked up to discover that they had broken their contract and were openly perusing my privates, which they seemed to enjoy.
Each took an instant shine to me, which I did not enjoy; citing such reasons as:
"Its so BIG!"
"Hey, that's not half bad."
"Look at his abs!"
Affronted, I quickly zipped, and it was then that Champion 1 & Champion 2 reentered, led by the voices of damsels that would inevitably be plagued with distress.
At that moment --- freeze frame --- General knowledge descended once more:
The world of Game of Thrones has just melded with our own reality.
As we communally and psychically absorbed this new information, huge oaks, pines, and ferns sprang up in our periphery. The air become both cold and humid, misty.
The laws of Lucid Dreaming took over completely then. And my heart began to sink as I started to see myself as the unwitting star in a new webseries playing the part of an under-alpha dog; saddled with two gorgeous multi-racial hapless heroines, both vapid in their expression of their feelings towards me. And flanked by two verbose, 'though unskilled, over-alpha dogs (Champion 1 & Champion 2), beleaguered with bafoonery. True to form, both looked like they could have been brothers of actor, Danny McBride; famed for such movies as Pineapple Express, Your Highness, Eastbound & Down, and Tropic Thunder.
And here I was, your hero --- brown, gay, and introspective --- caught between them; destined to save them, and the rest of the world, if it came to that (and it most certainly would, of course).
So, I forced myself to wake up.
And when I did, it took me far too long for my brain to recognize the world I actually live in. I had accepted the former so completely; howsoever Wagnerian.
As I wiped the sand from my eyes --- pieced the dream together, and considering how it would make an adequate Facebook update --- I revolved in my bed only to be reminded that it was littered with a few pre-nap tell-tales:
- A copy of Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes
- An actor's cut of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew
- And the second installment in an epic fantasy novel by Terry Goodkind (a book without any pictures)
All underscored, apparently by my iPhone thinly snaked with headphones blaring the 3rd act of Philip Glass' opera on the life of Ghandi (another under-alpha dog).
Oh! And did I neglect to mention that I'm currently sequestered in a large pre-war house somewhere in the woods of Massachusetts; of which I had just taken a long walk within said woods only hours prior to this oncoming midday nap?
... I smiled inwardly.
I had only myself to blame.
... Alright, Caroll. You win.