The Mall Dream

A dysfunctional, post-apocalyptic world had arrive in the U.S. It wasn’t extreme. Shit had happened. Infrastructure and governments were failing, oil and gas were limited, food and water were scarce, and security was precious.

Somehow, I’d taken over a large mall.

I established myself as its ruler and then set up a society to live within it. I’d managed to make it secure, acquire food and drink, and we were generating power. Details aren’t available.

Friends of different times in my life heard of it. A large horde of them arrived as refugees. Everyone from childhood to the recent past were represented.

After greeting them outside on a sunny day, I took them in, assigning them spaces and familiarizing them with basic concepts: everyone works, no physical violence or abusive behavior, and respect one another. Break one of these, once, and you’re gone.

They quickly settled in. One favorite old friend, Don, became de facto representative of that particular group. He ended up hanging out with me a bit. They had suggestions for improvement. I thought them good and adopted the suggestions.

Meanwhile, I had two Mazda Miatas and gas for both. Both were green but different shades, with the new one being darker, almost forest green. I often drove the older one around. On this day, I decided to take the newer one for a ride. I invited Don along.

But first, I went around pissing on the mall floors. I pissed copiously, everywhere. I was then ready to go, but then regretted pissing everywhere. “I shouldn’t have done that,” I told Don. “I need to clean that up.”

Don, his cheerful, relaxed self, answered, “Don’t worry about it. We got you covered.” He pointed out there, where everyone was already mopping up my mess.

That’s where it ended.

Would I Lie?

I enjoy watching “Would I Lie to You?” Hosted by Rob Brydon, Lee Mack and David Mitchell lead two teams. Two guest celebrities appear on each team every show, people like Bob Mortimer (who shares hilarious tales), Jo Brandt, Richard Osmen, and Greg Davis. The team members then tell a story about something that happened to them. The other team then guesses whether it’s a lie or true. Points are awarded. Yes, it’s British. My favorite episode involved Germane Greer and cannibalism. I love how the panels and Rob really get into the premise.

I stream it on Britbox via Amazon. I’ve watched many episodes more than once, tests to see how well my memory works as I try to recall if they’re lying or telling the truth. I’m usually wrong. I don’t think that bodes well for me doing my taxes in the future.

Whenever I watch the show, I think, what tales could I share? I’ve come up with one. First, the opening statement. That’s what’s used to launch the premise and cross-examination.

I once passed out three times trying to give blood just so I could have a doughnut.

They would ask the usual questions. When did this happen? Where? How old were you?

I’d answer, “I was in my early twenties, working at a bank in Pittsburgh, PA. The American Red Cross was having a blood drive in the lobby. If you give blood, you’re given a free doughnut. I really wanted a doughnut, so I took my place in line. Then, well, as I approached, I fainted.”

For some reason, as I write this, I imagine it being spoken in David Mitchell’s voice.

You fainted, will be repeated. I’ll nod, affirming that’s what happened.

Then?

“They put me on one of the little beds they had set up and gave me some orange juice. I returned to my desk, but I really wanted a doughnut. I got back in line and fainted again.”

They would ask me, “Was this your first time giving blood? Have you ever fainted before? Do you have a history of fainting?”

It was my first time giving blood. I’d never fainted before.

The ARC again put me on one of their little beds with orange juice. After I felt better, I returned to my desk. But…

I really wanted a doughnut.

I returned to the line, worked my way forward, and fainted again.

“A third time,” people exclaim. “Boy, you really wanted that doughnut.”

“Well, it was free,” I reply, “and I like doughnuts.”

“What kind of doughnuts were they? Were they special doughnuts?”

“Glazed.”

“Were you hurt whenever you fainted?” They would ask. “When you say, fainted, do you mean that — what do you mean?” (Lee Mack is questioning me; I hear his voice.)

“I swooned,” I answer. “My vision grew dim, my legs grew weak and then buckled, I lost consciousness, and found myself being helped off the floor.”

“How long were you out?” Lee asks.

“Not long, a few seconds, maybe ten seconds, I guess.”

“Did you ever get a doughnut?”

“No.”

Rob asks, “Well, Lee, it’s time to decide if he’s telling a lie or telling the truth.”

He’s lying, they agree. Nobody would get in line three times just for a doughnut. Or the ARC would give him a doughnut after the second time, to reward him for his efforts.

“It is a lie,” I tell them when the time comes. “The truth is, it wasn’t me; it was my sister.”

And that’s the truth.

Thanksgiving & Wedding Dream

The dream began with a gathering and an agreement. I and two other men would take eight women around on a trip. Don, a friend, was one of the other men. I didn’t know the women but, dressed in white toga gowns, they seemed like friends.

We hopped into a big light blue convertible. I never clearly glimpsed the car, but the imprint gained was it was a large American machine from the sixties. A ’63 Chevy Impala comes to mind. Don’t know any that would fit eleven of us, though. The trip commenced with traffic lights, talk, and confusion about where we were and we were going, never with arguments, though. Just discussions. One stop was a busy water park. The other men and I hadn’t been participating in the women’s activities; we were their drivers and guides. Now, though, we stripped down to shorts and ran through the park, playing in water.

But, it was time for a wedding! That’s why we were here. And I was getting married. I needed to rush to shower and get into suitable wedding attire, which seemed to be black jeans with a black shirt. Dressing as I went, I ran to the church and — that was that. No ceremony ensued. Next that I knew, the wedding was over. The trip was finished.

The women said good-byes. Sitting on the car hood side by side, Don invited me on another trip. He was going and thought I’d be interested. Two trips were available. He described them. As he described the second (no words from it are remembered), I interjected, “That’s the one that I want.”

He smiled. “I thought you would. It’s their traditional thanksgiving, and I was pretty sure that you’d want to go.” We talked about the food. He was smiling, reassuring me, yes, there would be gravy, turkey with stuffing, and mash potatoes.

I grew hungry and excited. Agreeing that I wanted to go, we got into the shiny, light blue convertible with Don driving. The dream ended.

Stealing Batteries Deam

I’d dream I was back with folks from my military time — my final assignment, actually — but we weren’t in the military. I’d started a new job and was pleased and happy. The bosses and co-workers all seemed to take a shine to me. Things were going well. Then (you knew it was coming), one co-worker asked me to put something into an envelope for him and stamp it secret. He gave me the something, adding as he walked away, “I need to take it with me when I leave, so if you could hurry it up.”

I was eager to please, so I set right about taking care of it. Putting something in an envelope and marking it…no prob!

But, the something was a package of batteries. Eight of them. They were about C sized. Each was bundled to function as two.

Confusion struck. I was fetching an envelope but was asking myself, what’s going on? Why am I doing this? I remembered that he wanted to stamp this secret. Secret? Why?

As I cottoned to what was up — he was stealing these batteries — the bosses came around. One was a short female who I once worked for. She was just chattering away with a big smile. I was nodding and smiling back while hiding the batteries as I saw the requesting co-worker give me an anxious look over her shoulder.

Time was running out. The boss wanted something else done. “Okay,” I agreed, “but I need to finish this first.”

She wanted to know what I was doing but then veered off to another work area. I hurried to put the batteries into the envelope, seal it, and stamp it. The first thing was done but then another supervisor, a guy I worked with at a start-up after retiring, came by to see what I was doing. I hid the envelope and chatted away as the operation around me began to close up for the day. I needed to hurry. I wanted to help this guy because he’d come to me, and I didn’t want to disappoint him, even if I did wonder, was it worth it? Why was he stealing batteries? How much did batteries cost?

Then, though, I gave up. Instead, I found myself in the kitchen. Most of the others were already gone. Dishes with half-eaten food on them were on the stainless steel sink counter. Another co-worker (also from my last assignment) said, “We need to clean this up.” So, we did. The last thing I remember was scrapping a half-eaten piece of pie from the plate into the trash and then turning to wash it in the sink as the water ran.

Popcorn Night

Digital lapse was endured.

Familiar with it? That’s when you click or press and nada takes place. But, being experienced, you know that something has taken place. It’s just not revealed. Novices will think nothing has happened and press buttons or click more. The clicks and taps accumulate, causing a crash or a sudden surge of activities that take you to somewhere that you don’t want to be, digitally speaking, like the wrong screen.

I’m not a novice. I’ve been clicking remotes on digital devices for a decade. Digital lapse is an old adversary. I experience it most with our streaming devices for viewing television shows and movies. Disney Plus is the worst offender in my current stable of providers. But finally I was on the screen where “The Mandalorian” was being offered. One blessing from the Disney Plus site is that it doesn’t immediately start playing trailers. It’s just quiet. Waiting.

I jumped up and set down the remote. Head down, a cat eyed me, ears moving toward my racket. “Popcorn?” I moved around my desk.

We were in the office. We are spoiled people. Although we have a sixty-five inch curved-screen 4K ultra-high definition smart TV in the living room, with surround sound, we do ninety percent of our television viewing in the home office. My wife calls it the snug. A twenty-seven inch flat screen television is mounted on one wall. My desk faces it. So does a recliner in the corner. My wife reclined there. Busy with a game on her AirMac or whatever her Apple machine is called, she nodded.

Making popcorn has become simple. Back when I was a child, popping corn required oil, popcorn, and a big black cast iron Dutch oven. Oil was spread across the bottom. The Dutch oven’s bottom, not mine. You know, inside it. Heat applied. Three kernels were dropped in. A lid applied. The kernels were monitored. Once they popped, kernels were poured in and spread across the hot oil, covering the bottom. Lid applied, a pot holder was acquired. I’d stand there, shaking the Dutch over as the kernels popped.

Jiffy Pop changed it. No need to pour everything. Just peel off the cardboard lid, hold the tin pan over the flame, and shake as the kernels cooked and the foil cover rose.

Microwaves changed it up again. We experimented with several methods before Pop Secret came along. It was just a folded bag. Put it in the microwave, one side up, and press the button. Then monitor as the popping proceeded.

Monitoring has remained the constant. The popcorn was always being monitored. Was that the last pop? Time to stop.

Deciding that we didn’t like that kind of microwave popcorn, our household had regressed back to where I’d started, oil in pan, kernels, lid, popping, add corn, lid, shake. No longer, though. We’d acquired a silicon microwave popcorn maker last year. No oil. Pour the popcorn in to the line. Apply silicon lid. Turn microwave on for four minutes. Monitor. Is that the last pop? Count to five.

It’s amazingly simple, quiet, and easy. So is clean up. I fear that it won’t last. News will break. Scientists will announce that radicalized burrblelons released from the silicon attacks your nervous system when you ingest popcorn made in such a manner. That’s how everything seems to be: something good is found and announced. We like it. Then we discover it’s bad for you or the world.

I poured the popcorn into bowls, flavored it with nutritional yeast, cleaned out the silicon popper and put it away, and headed back to the snug.

The cat had taken my seat. Curled up tightly, he didn’t bother looking up. Ears and tail were still. His eyes were closed. Probably pretending to be asleep.

Dropping to my knees on the carpet beside him, I picked up the remote and pressed play. Digital lapse was endured. Then the show began.

The Survey Dream

I found myself out with a crowd of people on a sunny day at a county fair. Rides were going on as music played. People were laughing, eating, and drinking. My wife and friends were with me. As we perused the fairgrounds, a man accosted us. “Would we be willing to participate in a survey? It’s twenty-five questions long. We’ll go over results later. You’ll be rewarded with tokens for rides, a free dinner, and drinks in another part of the fair later in the day.” Well, young and interested in free food and drinks and ride tokens, we agreed. A large group of us were given the surveys to complete and pencils. The survey form was a narrow piece of paper which turned out to be a small booklet. As my wife and I worked on it, we rode the Ferris Wheel. Multi-tasking at its finest, right?

The ride stopped at the top. I was writing an essay in answer to one question when I dropped my survey. This upset me because I was almost done. I could see exactly where it was on the ground. I also saw the man who’d given us the survey. Calling to him, I explained that I had dropped my survey and pointed out where it was. Could he get it for me?

No problem. He made his way through the crowd and around the rides to where I pointed. By the time he reached it, too much paper had accumulated there for him to find it. No problem. We finished our ride. When we reached the ground, I asked him and requested another survey. Well, he shouldn’t…but he did. I began working feverishly on finishing it in time.

Meanwhile, we’d moved toward the place where we would go over the results and get our free meal and drinks. The meal was a barbecue and I could smell it while the site was like an old television western set with picnic tables in a corral alongside a bunk house

Damn if I didn’t again lose my survey. This time, the wind took it into the corral. A split rail fence kept me from going after it immediately as the wind pushed it across dusty grounds. The survey man was with me when it happened. Laughing, I explained what’d happened and requested another survey. He was against this. Although he appreciated my enthusiasm, he was concerned that my answers would no longer be in the spirit of the survey because I was answering them so many times. I disagreed with his observation. That’s where the dream ended.

The White Crocs Dream

Friends and I were gathering to celebrate. What a great experience, to be with friends, right? Yes. There was fourteen of us. The plan was we’d met the night before, sleep over, and then begin the celebration the next morning. Unfortunately, nine white crocodiles were hampering activities.

The crocs ranged from four to seven feet long. They’d been beaten out of the room before but now they were creeping back in. It was an odd sight: white crocodiles moving forward on plush light blue carpet, trying to hide under beds and chairs. Noticing them getting close to a friend, I called out a warning, then grabbed a piece of wood and beat the croc back.

Other crocs were coming in. I told everyone, “Come on, grab a stick, beat them back. If we don’t, they’ll be there, waiting to get us in the morning.” Finding bats, sticks, lumber in this plush room, we beat the crocs back together.

We left the room to begin the celebration. I kept a stick with me, just in case. We went outside and sat together at a dark green picnic table. A parade was going by. We were honoring MH and MQ. MH was there with us, but MQ had passed away almost six years before. We decided we’d drink something in MQ’s honor. Well, his favorite drink was compardri, someone declared, producing a thick red drink in a champagne flute. I’d never heard of the drink and had never seen MH drink it or mention. Well, whatever, though.

Two women were assigned to assist me. They sat down on either side of me and promised that they’d make sure I’d have things to eat and drink. I thanked them. MH talked about going to get something to eat. The parade was still going on, so we decided to drink more. MH asked me what I wanted to drink. I indicated I’d stick with the compardri.

MQ showed up. I was delighted to see him. He handed me a phone. I didn’t want to talk on the phone and told him. He answered, “I think you want to take this call,” with that gentle voice and smile he often employed.

I accepted the phone and said hello. A woman said, “Thank you for caring about our older people.” She then went into a short but boring speech. As I prepared to hang up, she said, “MQ was given two fellowships, and he’s chosen to bestow one of these on you.” As I realized what was being said, shock hit and I began crying in gratitude. I said, “I don’t deserve this.” MQ, standing beside me, looked at me and smiled. Ed Sherrin’s song, “Perfect”, began playing.

Yeah, weird song to finish with.

Monday’s Theme Music

Thickening fog is graying out this Monday morning in southern Oregon.

Hi. Today is February 22, 2021. The temperature is 39 degrees F. Sunrise and sunset are 6:57 AM, 5:52 PM, presenting us almost eleven hours of daylight.

My mind has been busy with dreams, reading, writing, and thinking. Among the thoughts. They mentioned on the radio that, oh, surprise, people are creatures of habit. Surveys show that eighty percent of Americans have daily routines that they follow. They eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, go to the same places to shop, watch the same shows, etc.

Well, hello, yes. Much of this is driven by routines but by prices, selections, availability, health, and convenience. My breakfast, for example, is usually oatmeal. How it’s flavored varies. I add different fruits and nuts to it, or raisins, or peanut butter, or sometimes all of it. Yogurt with granola stands as an infrequent breakfast alternative. Once in a while, probably once a month, I’ll buy a breakfast burrito from a store. Once in a while, maybe every other month, I’ll have a doughnut or pastry for breakfast.

These things, though are driven by nutrition, taste, cost, availability, and convenience. I used to make and eat other things for breakfast. Metabolism changes, life style changes, and weight gain all started nixing how often I do that, along with convenience and laziness. Making a more elaborate breakfast (besides being pricier) is time consuming, and there’s cleaning up afterward.

Boy, I sound defensive, don’t I? But they’re right: we shop at the same seven places for our groceries when we go out. Those seven: Shop N’ Kart, Trader Joe’s, Costco, The Food Co-op, Market of Choice, Bi-Mart and Albertson’s. They’re all within a twenty-minute drive. They have decent prices. The food quality is good. We’re checked out places, but these are the ones we trust.

Enough whining. On to the music. Today’s theme song is “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fear, 1989. Don’t ask me why; it came into my head this morning, and I had no reason to not select it.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get vaccinated. We’re still a few weeks from being eligible for the vaccination, ourselves. Here’s the tune. Enjoy.

Surrepflooftious

Surrepflooftious (floofintion) – Something done, made, or acquired by an animal through stealth.

In use: “Crystal, the small black velvet cat with the large jade eyes, was a surrepflooftious food thief. For example, she loved stealing powdered sugar doughnuts. No one ever saw it happen, but the missing doughnuts and white sugar on her paws and face always told on her.”

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