By Dan Haag
Recently, I had a bad day at work. Everything I did failed miserably. Feelings were hurt, promises were broken, milk was spilled and cried over. I left the office questioning my existence, my purpose and my willingness to ever return. I had recently seen a bumper sticker that summed up my attitude: “I’m not quitting; I’m just leaving and never coming back.”
The drive home left me edgy and irritated. It was from the day’s events, but also because my car radio received nothing but a classic rock station in Lincoln City. Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” blared from the speakers and lacerated my head like a cheese grater.
Safely home, I parked with all the care of an elephant landing the space shuttle, dumped miscellaneous work papers unceremoniously on the garage floor, and stomped upstairs. I don’t recall, but I may have left the truck running and the garage door open.
My wife, recognizing the mood, poured me a vase-sized glass of wine and pointed at the couch. There was an inviting fire in the wood stove and she smiled at me in her particularly heart-warming way that said “I love you. Now shut up and drink your wine.” Greedily, I did. Warmed with one part wood stove and two parts wine, I soon drifted off into a peaceful snooze.
I dreamed I was at an extravagant gala. An orchestra played in the background. Friends and family were chatting and enjoying themselves, dancing and sipping champagne and nibbling. There was one slight catch: we were all Muppets. Strange, yes, but thankfully light years away from the tension of the day. Despite being cast as Gonzo, I felt oddly content.
But suddenly I was awake again, on the couch in front of the TV. I jerked upright, registered the half-empty glass of wine still clutched in my hand and immediately threw it in my face. It stung my eyes, ran down my chin, gathered in my collar.
I glanced around and discovered that Janell was in the kitchen and Governor Kate Brown was speaking on television. Amazingly, neither had noticed what had transpired. I lurched groggily to my feet and down the hall to the bathroom, my shirt cupped in front of me, trying to stop the pool of wine that had formed there from sloshing over.
As I rinsed my shirt in the sink, I tried to recall details of my brief sojourn to Muppet dream land. It had seemed real, but the clock noted I had only dozed for barely 30 minutes. Despite the strange Jim Henson twist, the party had been a formal affair with nothing untoward happening. Yet I had thrown my own drink in my face. The questions were endless. Had I made a pass at Miss Piggy? Had I picked a fight with the Swedish Chef? Was my sub-conscious waking me from subliminal Governor Brown messages? I’ll never know.
Freshly changed, I mumbled ‘goodnight’ to Janell and shuffled off to bed. It was barely 6:45, but with the way the day had gone, surrender seemed the only logical option.
Usually, my dreams aren’t all that strange. I stick to classic latent anxiety stuff – forgetting my high school locker combination, giving a speech in my birthday suit, etc. My family, however, is another matter.
Once, my wife shot up in the middle of the night and declared “Tug boat! Big red tug boat!” When I pressed her on it, she had no recollection. I thought nothing of it until the night she rolled over and said “Pillsbury Dough Boy! Muffins and pie!” I began to worry that perhaps she was a KGB operative receiving some sort of activation signal.
For sheer strangeness, the dream my father once shared with me registered a 10 on the odd scale. He had piloted an aircraft carrier onto the sand in Cannon Beach and was serving mashed potatoes from a bucket on the flight deck to excited crowds of tourists. They apparently needed a massive starch fix while they admired Haystack Rock. I can never decide if this dream is humanitarian or totalitarian.
The next morning, after a thankfully dreamless sleep, I was relieved to discover it was the weekend. My head felt like a bunch of orangutans fighting over a tin can full of nails. I sipped coffee and hoped Gonzo and Kermit weren’t nursing hangovers.
I was putting the incident behind me when Janell called from the bathroom. I entered to see her frowning at the wine-stained t-shirt I had left in the sink. The collar was decorated in multiple dark red splotches while the rest of the shirt remained white. It was as if a cat had taken up tie-dying and quickly become bored.
“What happened here?” she demanded. I shrugged hesitantly. I felt uncomfortable sharing the details with someone who might be a foreign sleeper agent.