Bumbling at Civic Center

I dreamed about Darla, and no, It was nothing like what you’re thinking, you perv (though she is an attractive woman). 

In the dream, she’d returned from her bereavement leave, and someone in the office had planned a “Dad’s Dead” lunch for Darla. Sounds like a bad idea, right? There was even a big, brightly-colored banner that said, "Dad's dead."

Darla herself told me to go home and change clothes, so I’d be wearing all black. I did, but my only black shirts are t-shirts. Then I was at Chevy's in a black t-shirt, and everyone from the office was there, in formal funeral wear, ties and tuxedos. Except for Kallie, who wore tie-dye. Darla clanged her fork against a glass, everyone hushed, and she started talking about her father.

I don't remember anything she said, but it was a sad and stupid dream. Analyze it, if you can. My guess is, it meant something about the stupidity of work life, the agony of human existence, and the finality of death. More likely, it meant nothing at all.

An unusually bad Twilight Zone episode, and I have decided not to mention any of it to Darla when she comes back.

♦ ♦ ♦

Went to a double feature at the Castro, two classics I’ve heard about all my life but never seen until tonight. You gotta see the classics, but you also gotta cross your fingers, because the flicks with the best reputations sometimes aren’t all that great.

The Lodger (1944) is your basic Jack-the-Ripper story with an unusual twist: it’s boring as hell. Right from the start, it’s obvious who the killer is, so what’s the point of making a mystery with nothing mysterious, a thriller without thrills? No point that I could see.

M (1931) is by Fritz Lang, Mr Metropolis, so it’s full of visual flourishes and interesting camera work. The story is startling, and feels ahead of its time, and ours. It’s about a serial child-murderer, pursued by police, feared by everyone, and hated even by the city’s criminal element. Sounds gruesome, and it was, but completely engrossing.

I was tense with the drama, so I don’t understand how I fell asleep halfway through it. I haven’t been sleeping well for the last twenty years or so, but insomnia is normal. Falling asleep during a good movie isn't.

Even without the middle section, though, I could tell it was great. Whenever my own snoring woke me, there was beautiful black-and-white photography, and a sense of eerie danger radiating from the great Peter Lorre as the psychopath, and then I fell asleep again.

M is a terrific movie, and I hope to see it one day.

♦ ♦ ♦

On the train ride home, I was intrigued by a man sitting toward the front, looking out the window. What was he looking at so intently? We were in a tunnel — there was nothing to see, just a blur of concrete, pipes, wires, and lights. He continued staring, and I noticed that his mouth was open. 

Church Street station. The man blinked, surprised as the concrete ended and the train arrived at the platform. He didn’t move his head, though, just kept staring out the window. Subliminally chanting? Sleepy like me? 

Van Ness. He was still staring out the window, but I don’t think he was seeing anything. As the train pulled out of the station, the lighting flickered and changed, and I could see a little spittle dripping from his open mouth. Is he brain dead?

Civic Center. He stood up, and a book dropped from his hand, or maybe his lap. He bent over, picked it up, and then bumped his head quite hard on the seat-back as he stood again. I was ten seats away and heard the thud. In a hurry to beat the closing doors, he didn’t rub his head until he was off the train, but when he did, as we began rolling out of the station, he dropped the book again.

Then he was out of sight, and you gotta wonder. There are many people bumbling about among us, and I only saw a few minutes of that guy’s life. Was it a normal snippet of his existence — the comatose look, the drooling, dropping a book, banging his head, dropping the book again — or did I catch him at an off moment? And how many more times would he drop that book, on his way wherever he was headed?

I'll never see him again, so I'll never know. It’s a big city, where we’re all more or less anonymous as we bumble about. Bumble onward, stranger, as do we all, more or less.

From Pathetic Life #5
Thursday, October 27, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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1 comment:

  1. If you dream about work, put it on your timecard.


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