- Dylan is walking down a crowded road with his family, it is nighttime.
- They are on their way to the ferry terminal in a large European town
- They’re trying to get on the largest, and last, ferry along with everyone else around them
- People are panicked and confused, but still reasonable orderly
- The attack hasn’t happened yet, but they’ve heard on the news that this is the last place on the planet that the aliens haven’t come yet
- Dylan and his family are American, and Dylan’s father is an important government official.
- They are able to get into the ferry, and make their way to the windows inside the large room inside the main deck.
- They look out over the water and see other ferries, some of them sinking, capsized or something.
- Then the attack begins as swarms of alien ships come out of the sky leaving green trails behind them.
- The ships fire on the people on land, the ferries, everything.
- Dylan realizes that it is hopeless, this is the last place that the aliens attacked and it’s clear that there is no escape – everyone will die.
- There is an explosion and Dylan is knocked unconscious.
- Dylan awakes in a bed. He looks around the room and realizes it is his bedroom back at home in the United States.
- Slowly the events come back to him: seeing the news reports on TV about the first attacks, his father rounding up his family in the hotel, their crazed dash to the ferries, and the final attack.
- How did he end up in this bed?
- He gets up and goes downstairs to find lots of people in the house, it seems most of his extended family is here.
- They all give him a solemn look as he walks by.
- Finally he finds one of his cousins who runs up to him and gives him a large hug.
- “I’m so sorry man. I can’t believe it.” the cousin says..
- Bewildered Dylan says nothing.
- “I mean, it’s amazing you made it, but that everyone else in the plane crash didn’t is just crazy…” the cousin realizes that he probably should not continue on such a sensitive subject and stops talking.
- Through a few more conversations Dylan finds out that everyone here seems to think that he and his family were in a plane crash, and that everyone on the plane but him died. Everyone is here for a wake for his entire family, and nobody has any recollection of the alien invasion, or the major cities of the world being completely obliterated.
- Dylan returns to his room to be alone and try to process what is going on. Maybe he’s crazy and the entire alien story is some sort of coping mechanism by his brain.
- He finds his camera that he brings with him everywhere and turns it on. When he presses the play button a video begins to play. It’s a video of him and his family at a birthday party – in the European city where that final attack happened.
- Dylan begins cycling through the pictures and videos and realizes they are all of this trip that he was on. There are even a few final snapshots of the ferries being loaded, the mass confusion, and one blurry shot of an alien ship firing on a building in the distance.
- It’s his only evidence that any of this happened.
- He needs to find and reveal the truth.
- In the old Country Market in the town where I grew up
- Buy a sandwich at the deli
- Go to pay
- Realize I don’t have my wallet
- Tell cashier I will be right back after checking truck
- I know my wallet is not in the truck because I realize I am wearing new pants, not the ones I normally do, so I must have changed into them and forgot to grab my wallet
- Decide to leave and drive to house to get wallet
- About to leave parking lot when I remember my cash hiding spot
- Check my “secret stash” spot in the ashtray and find cash in there. 20, 10, 5, and some 1s
- Go back to park again
- Have to drive around a lot looking for a spot
- Realize there are hoards of people following me around and some of the other cars and people as well
- They follow you kind of like a school of fish everywhere you go
- They are homeless people trying/waiting to ask you for money
Finally had another dream worthy of writing down!
- Big Brother
- Middle Brother
- Little Sister
- Guy on Horse
- Family on the beach: Mother, oldest son, middle son, youngest daughter. From oldest to youngest the children are something like 17, 14, 12.
- It’s the end of the day and the mother and youngest two are lounging in the sand at the boardwalk that goes back to the parking lot and exit. The day is over and other families are leaving with all their stuff. They are waiting for the oldest son to meet them here before they can all leave together.
- The daughter gets up and leaves to go for a walk.
- The mother and middle son sit together for a while watching the people leave. “I wish I was as pretty as them.” the mother says. At first middle son thinks she was talking to him, but he realizes she is thinking out loud and daydreaming.
- She continues to watch the people passing by so middle son decides to leave and go look for his sister.
- As middle son is walking down the beach looking for his sister, everyone is still walking out the opposite direction and he scans each face as they go by. Some are girls his age and he smiles at them, sometimes they smile back. Soon the stream of people has thinned to the occasional straggler and he looks at the landscape around him more. “I wish I had a camera” he thinks as he looks at the sand dunes. The sky is getting towards sunset, all the colors are washed out and the sky is a light lavender color. Some sort of mist hangs in the air above the dunes which makes each dune top lighter the further away it gets. The dunes furthest away are indistinguishable from the sky. Everything looks like it’s been drawn with shades of blue, purple, and lavender pastels.
- He finally sees his sister standing at the rocks at the end of the sandy part of the beach.
- As he gets closer he can see she is either crying or was crying. She is wearing a blue bathing suit, and it stands out against her pale white skin and red hair which is still wet from swimming earlier. Her red hair is odd because the two brothers have black hair and their mother’s is blonde.
- When he gets there he tells her “Big brother is probably back with mother by now, so we should head back, plus it’s going to be dark soon.”
- She turns to him with watery eyes and says “I don’t have any friends.”
- He knows he should say something, or give her a hug in this moment, but he can’t think of anything to say and instead looks out over the water, avoiding her gaze.
- She continues, “Did I have any friends before?”
- He knows what she means, before they moved here, before their father died, back when they lived on the farm. He also knows the answer, which is that she did not, but instead he lies and says he doesn’t remember. He senses that she doesn’t quite believe him so he continues with a truth to try to reinforce the white lie, “The farm was big, there weren’t a lot of people around” he says.
- She seems to sense this is all he is going to say and turns back towards the beach exit and their mother.
- They walk back together in slience.
There was some sort of flashback / other story about the older brother and the younger brother hanging out in a pool hall. Older brother was teaching younger how to play. Someone came up and asked if they wanted to play an actual game. Older brother lets younger play the game. Younger gets crushed. “Maybe next time.” older says to younger.
The mother drives the school bus in town, and because this is a small town the last stop is their house where she parks the bus for the night. They have a chicken coop and the mother sells eggs to make extra money. Some other children who live nearby stay on the bus until it gets to their house so they can go into the coop to pick out and buy eggs for their families.
As the town children and two younger children are in the coop they hear a commotion in the front yard. They all run around to see some guy on horseback intimidating and harassing the mother. This guy has been harassing their mother since they moved here. The oldest son comes out of the house and confronts the man.
- The guy turns his horse to face the oldest son and says something dumb and cliche like “This ain’t none of your concern boy.”
- The guy on the horse had a long rifle with him. He had been holding it balanced with the stock resting on his foot, now he raises it up with one arm and goes to shoo away the oldest son.
- But the oldest son grabs the rifle away from the man and swings it at him like a baseball bat.
- Since the man is on a horse the swing is mostly ineffective, but does make light contact with the mans face.
- Emboldened by his first swing the oldest son now tries to jab at the man’s face, using the rifle like a sword now instead of a bat.
- However the man is ready for this attack and dodges the thrusting rifle, grabs the barrel, and rips the gun out of the oldest son’s hands.
…and then I woke up
Colors of the bathing suit, red hair, and white skin:
Fog layer mask
- Boy is being dragged by the arm by his father (or some sort of authority figure)
- Chained to a heavy thing and thrown into a pond
- On the way down the boy manages to free himself, but he knows it will mean death to surface right there, so he swims away underwater
- He remembers a place he can hide
- Almost out of breath he finally makes it to a part of the pond that the kids of the town/city know about, a place where you can surface in an air bubble under an overhang
- He surfaces underneath the overhang
There are a few inches of air in this spot. It is not quite close din and he can see out over the rest of the pond
- He sees the upside-down mottled reflection of another man on the surface of the water peering over the edge of the pond.
- He knows the man is looking for him
- He thinks for sure the man will see his reflection too, but then he realizes that it is so dark in this little mini-cave that the man cannot see him. as long as he stays quiet he should be safe.
- The boy stays as quiet as he can
- Eventually the man leaves, satisfied that the boy is in fact dead, still tied to the thing at the bottom of the pond
- The boy is still scared though, and stays where he is
- It starts to get dark
- Bugs are crawling on his exposed shoulders from the earthen wall behind and above him (i.e. kind of like in Lord of the Rings when the Hobbits hide from the black riders)
- The boy is finally satisfied that it is safe to exit the pond, and he is cold and shivering anyway.
- He crawls out of the pond and finds a path that leads into the woods
- He follows this path and comes upon a giant opening.
- It is shaped like a colosseum. A giant three-quarters bowl made of yellow stone.
- Everywhere are holes and arches in the walls.
- The boy realizes that each of these individual openings leads to a sewer drain, a street grate, or some type of drain from the city.
- “I wonder what it’s like in here when it’s raining” the boy thinks.
- He begins exploring, climbing up broken rocks and stuff to try to get to one of these openings
- First tens and then hundreds of other children appear from openings all around him.
- Tribal in looks and behavior, they start hooting and hollering.
- “Other children who were sacrificed, or just runaways?” the boy thinks.
After this the dream did the “dream thing” and went off the rails. All the kids broke out into song and dance like a Disney movie.
- Man is hiking through the woods
- Has this single unwavering purpose, not even sure himself, just ‘knows’ he needs to follow this path, to go this direction, to get somewhere.
- Ends up in a village
- They recognize him as “the prophecy”
- Stuff happens
- Years go by
- His sons leave down the same path he entered, everyone knows they will return in 60 or 70 years to start the process again.
Takes place in the 80s some time in a country town.
- Guy comes home from somewhere. Jail / College / Army, something like that.
- He’s always been in kind of a rowdy crowd. He calls up his old friends to see what they’re doing. His kid brother wants to come with him so he says ok.
- They all meet down at some quarry overlooking a processing plant. 3 cars, 3 guys and the kid brother.
- The third guy has this weird thing he says a lot, it’s like his catch phrase. “Here’s to you kid” followed by something that just happened.
- They split most of a 12 pack of beer while shooting the shit (even kid brother has one).
- From the overlook you can see the entirety of the plant and all the machines moving stone around. It’s nearly automated so there’s not really anyone to catch them drinking beer up on this overlook where they shouldn’t be.
- They decide to leave and kid brother wants to ride with guy #3 – they live next door and kid brother wants to see if this guy #3’s kid brother is home (who is our kid brother’s friend and who he wants to brag to about hanging with the big guys drinking beer). Ok, fine says big brother.
- They all race their way out of the quarry because it’s fun on the dirt roads, you can fish tail around corners and stuff. They are dirt roads and giant clouds of dust form which looks wicked cool but also is an advantage if you’re in the lead – not so much if you’re one of the cars behind. Right now it’s the main character in the lead, the second car, and then the third car (with the kid brother and other guy driving) fighting to get in front of #2.
- They go around a large corner, a small straightaway, and then are back up onto the main road.
- Main character turns left, second car turns right, and the third car can’t be seen in the rear view. Oh well, they must have slowed down because they couldn’t see. He’d see them back on their home street. He leans into the gas and accelerates onto the highway.
- Main character gets home, takes a shower, and then is getting dressed. He notices the other guy still hasn’t come home yet (he can see guy #3’s driveway from his bedroom window).
- Main character calls second guy, “Hey have you seen #3? He’s not home yet…maybe he broke down, his car is a piece of shit you know”
- They decide to go check.
- It’s getting towards sunset now and they are re-tracing their path into to quarry when they see a break in the bushes and tire tracks leading to it in the dirt road.
- They stop, get out, and walk through the bushes to emerge out on the top of a very steep hill.
- At the bottom of the hill they see the #3’s yellow car’s taillights, trunk, and some of the roof, but the rest of the car is buried under stone, and more is slowly covering it because it had slammed into into a pile that was being built up by one of those stone conveyors.
- They run down the hill to the car and get to the driver side first. It is blocked from being opened, half because it is crumpled, but half because there is a large rock on the ground keeping it from opening all the way. They move the stone and get the driver’s side open.
- Stone chips just like the ones that are covering the car come pouring out…the inside is filled with stone. They frantically scoop with their hands but can only find a pair of feet on the driver’s seat with the legs leading towards the passenger side where the kid would have been sitting.
- They run over to the passenger side and open that door. This one also opens roughly but not as bad as the first one. More stone chips come pouring out and then they see the rest of guy #3’s body covering / laying on top of the kid who is still in his seat with his seat belt on.
- Guy #3’s fingernails have stone chips embedded everywhere under them. He had been trying to dig his way through the stone with only his hands. His hands are raw, like he’d been digging for a long time. At first probably just to try to get to the door handle and get the door open, but afterwards in a vain effort to keep the ever-deepening stone away from their faces (remember, they are underneath a conveyor which is constantly pouring out more and more stone chips).
- They see a cookie – one which kid brother had brought with him from home – and it was miraculously preserved. It had a single bite taken out of it and was still in kid brother’s lap.
- Big brother looks at guy #3’s face and thinks to himself it looks like he’s saying: “Here’s to you kid – I tried.”
In the actual dream it was peat moss and not stone chips but I don’t think they move peat moss on conveyor belts so I changed that, and there wasn’t beer in the dream but that seemed like a good addition. I also couldn’t remember exactly what the “catch phrase” was that guy #3 had (i.e. “Here’s to you kid”), but I think that might be right.
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2/3 cup confectioners sugar (I use a little less because I don’t like them so sweet)
- 1teaspoon vanilla
- Blend above together until smooth
- 2 Cups Flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt and blend until flour is completely mixed
- Mix in 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- Take about 1 Tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. (I fill the cookie sheet because these cookies don’t spread,)
- Bake 300 degrees for about 20 minutes or until bottoms begin to get a little color.
- Roll in confectioners sugar twice while warm. (I only roll once, again because of the sweetness.) I actually like this cookie without the sugar coating. They’re just not as pretty.
This was a huge dream that I was happy to remember when I woke up:
- I think it started off in a water park or something, and an entire group of people finds themselves at the end of the ride and at the beginning of a new one called “The Game”
- The Game is a problem-solving game, and only those who find the solutions advance to the next room. Advancing to a new room is called “getting older” in the vernacular of The Game.
- It starts off very easy and everyone makes it to the next room.
- This next room was a little harder and required you find a lever or something which they saw you find and would usher you through to the next room.
- It becomes clear at this point that the participants are being observed by the people running The Game.
- In this next room there are only ten or so people, and there are two glass walls. One looks out into the “next” room that we are trying to get to, and another looks back into what appears to be the previous room. In the previous room is a single girl who looks confused and perhaps frightened because she is alone. She is clearly trying to find her way out.
- We bang on the glass to try and get her to realize where we are and give her a hint to where she needs to go.
- We realize we have guns (aren’t dreams great) and start shooting through the glass to make holes in the glass and noise. The girl in the other room sees/hears these and runs over to start pounding on the glass.
- Meanwhile, everyone else in our room is trying to get to the other, “next” room.
- I am eventually able to get the other girl in to this room, and it turns out that’s what you needed to do in order to advance. The observers are about to send someone else into the room but she speaks up, “No, it should be him that gets older, he brought the other girl here.”
- I am ushered through a door and into the next room where there are six or seven other people.
- Everyone is wearing headphones, and I am given a pair. There is some sort of soft music playing in the headphones. I realize there is a bar where everyone else is sitting so I go over and sit down too.
- Sandwiches are placed in front of us and we all realize we’re starving because we’ve been playing this game for a long time now. The food is devoured.
- The headphones come alive with a voice telling us to move through a new door that opens in the wall. We all walk through and find ourselves in what appears to be a standard room of a house with a fireplace at one end, a couch, and some other features. It’s decorated like an old Victorian house.
- We are all milling around for a while, unsure what to do.
- Three of us sit down on the couch, a guy on my left, me, and then a girl on my right.
- A skeleton, perhaps two and a half feet tall appears on the floor of a side room to our right. It is writhing around and lit up with some sort of internal glow. When it finally stops I nudge the girl next to me and say “You should go pick it up.”
- She does, and as she does it comes back to life and starts writhing around again.
- She screeches and throws it into the corner of the room where it lands and then stands up.
- It says something like “congratulations, you may all proceed to the next room.”
- Everyone leaves except me. I walk over to inspect the skeleton and see that it’s made of plastic with little lights inside. I then decide to inspect the fireplace and realize it is also not real. What appeared from a distance to be ashes inside of it was really thin sheets of tracing paper. There is a hole in one of them and I can see something through it.
- I tear the paper away and see that under the fireplace is another room with corridors and railway tracks. I am about to jump down in when a man appears behind me.
- “Congratulations,” he says as he guides me through a door in the wall that is not the one the others went through.
- The door closes behind me and I realize the girl who grabbed the skeleton is there, but not anyone else.
- We are atop a giant concrete platform on the edge of a body of water, and in the distance is the sound of a rumbling diesel motor.
- I walk over to the edge of the concrete platform and look over the twenty foot drop. I am trying to see if we are floating or if everything else is. Before I can find out the girl grabs the back of my shirt and pulls me back. “You could fall over!” she yells.
- We are wondering what to do next when three actors come up a gangplank. At least, we assume they’re actors because we don’t recognize them but they seem to be directing their play towards us. This goes on for a few minutes and we watch trying to gather clues about this challenge.
- Suddenly the platform jolts to the left – we are floating apparently because now it is separating from everything else in the room. The girl gives me a look that indicates “if you had been looking over the edge when that happened you’d be at the bottom.”
- Water from somewhere is rushing around the base of the platform. Walls come down and doors start to close around this giant room. The actors are gone and we are left alone in a room that is rapidly becoming a death trap.
- We begin running for a door at the far end that is closing from the top down. The girl is in front and it becomes clear that she’s going to make it and I am not.
- She slips through and lies down on the ground to look back and plead that I crawl through too, but there’s no way, I would be crushed. She’s crying. The door closes and I am left alone in the room.
- I look over off the platform and see some rubber boats floating in the churning water.
- I run and jump for one and land in the water next to it.
- I swim to it and easily slide on top of it – I am surprised that I was able to get onto it so quickly.
- From inside the boat I look around and see that the water in this basin has begun to drain. There are bubbles everywhere and there is one place where it looks like what could have been a stairwell made out of cage and tube metal, but is now more like a waterfall that descends downward to some unknown
- Seeing no other option, I decide it’s my only choice and direct my boat towards it. I crash down through the structure and water, flipping my boat a couple times but managing to right it.
- After numerous turns the boat is spat out onto a sidewalk where there are cars and people walking around.
- I look towards the road and see a tractor trailer towing some sort of eqipment made of pipes and pumps and stuff. I see that it has the same logo as the company running “The Game” so as it passes I run towards it and climb up the back.
- I find a spot to nestle myself in and find that it’s very comfortable and end up falling asleep.
- When I wake up were are in a larger city. At one point a tour bus full of Chinese people drives by and they point out the windows at me laughing, pointing, and taking pictures.
- I turn away from them and look at where I am laying down. I am wrapped up in my Top Gun towel and blanket. “That doesn’t make sense” I think to myself, “Where did i get those?”
- I look to my right and see we are entering a huge city. The colors are super-saturated making everything look like one of those crazy HDR pictures. It’s like everything is made of the color of sunsets.
- “I wonder what city this is?” I think to myself, “Maybe Gotham?”
At this point in the dream I realize I am dreaming and start to get worried that I’ll wake up. No, this is too cool, don’t wake up! If I could control it maybe I can make it even better! Of course, the super-vivid colors of this city start to fade to grayscale and then to black….and I wake up. I am unhappy that I didn’t get to see what happened. But magically I am able to fall back asleep, and the dream continues which NEVER happens. Unfortunately this “part two” of the dream wasn’t as vivid, I was still aware I was dreaming and had trouble controlling it.
- I am dropped off in front of a hotel and realize I need to go inside if I’m going to find the girl.
- I search through the hotel lobby to no avail but see an exit towards a mall.
- The mall is a big courtyard with shops along the edge and people milling around.
- Suddenly someone shoots at me and I dive out of the way.
- I see one of the stores is selling antique guns or something, so I make my way over there and steal a couple of them.
- I return fire to the people shooting at me and I think manage to hit one of them.
- I run to the other side of the courtyard to escape and continue my search.
I know there was more to that second part but I can’t remember it. As a note, “The Game” is a similar movie with Michael Douglas so I’d have to change that if this became a story somehow, but the “plot” of this dream is certainly not the same.
- Sitting in a bar waiting for friends.
- Girl arrives and sits Indian style in the seat next to me.
- She pulls out her phone (which I can’t see yet) and says “yeah, it’s not a flip phone”
- I look over ans see it indeed is not a flip phone, but is also not a “smart phone”, just a mini phone about half the size of a large spice bottle.
- I laugh and pretend to be talking like I’m talking to someone else but I’m really talking to her (the thing where you cup your hands over your mouth): “Oh my god, look at that, it’s not even a flip phone.”
- She laughs and says “Yeah, not even a Razor”.
- I continue, “Yeah, it’s not even a Razor….I think she’s from even farther in the past than that…or perhaps the future.”
- Scene cuts forward to a nearly-empty bar/restaurant and we’re still talking. I’m showing her pictures from this book I happen to have of all my travels. I show her a picture from a pool in Las Vegas where you go down a water slide adventure and then are floated into a room that has only a couple to a few feet of water in it and explain how you could sit at a swim up bar, swim over to do some gambling, walk up to a platform where there are bathrooms, etc.
I think this could be a story about Lucid dreaming where the main character is so infatuated with the girl he meets at the bar he tries to get back to her. He can’t, until he learns about Lucid dreaming. He trains himself to be able to do it, and then starts reconstructing her, the scene, an entire world perhaps. But then something bad has to happen, not sure what…maybe she starts to realize she’s not real and attempts to deconstruct the dream herself. He of course can’t understand how this would happen because he created her…something like that.
- Skiing down a mountain at nearly night, I’m the last one on the mountain.
- Get to the bottom and get on a lift that takes you to the parking lots
- I see a phone blinking blue LED in the snow below.
- I get off at the mid station which is a ski rental shop. I notice that if someone wanted they could rob the store (it is closed).
- I walk out of the store and there are people everywhere.
- I turn around and make my way back to the area under the lift.
- I pay a hotel bellboy $0.25 to help me look for the phone
- For some reason there are drunk French tourists also walking around – I realize they are walking back to the hotel where I found the bellboy
- I find the phone which is a broken Motorola Razor (the top part of the flip has broken off)
- Somehow (because it’s a dream world), the phone still works.
- I walk back to the top of the parking lot and there are even more people
- Somehow I realize that there’s about to be an attack with a “pumpkin bomb” (did I look at the phone and see their plans?
- I see a truck drive past me on the road but realize it’s actually two
- The second one is a contraption of two parts, one which is pulling another.
- I realize the second one is the “pumpkin”
- I start running away, and am almost run over by another truck.
- I look to my left to follow the truck and see it has stopped in the road — blocking a fire truck’s access to the rest of the area.
- Fire truck can’t move
“What was it about the rice?” you say.
“Ah yes,” I reply, “the rice was what made me realize this entire situation.”
“The situation?” You have been traveling yourself, and haven’t had time to inspect the surroundings. But you have seen your fair share of hotels, and from what you have seen this one bears no special differences from any other mid-tier hotel you have been in before.
“Yes, the situation,” I reply, “Have you not seen the paintings on the walls?” I motion with my head towards the art on the wall, “Do you see anything off there?”
You turn your gaze in the direction of my nod and see two paintings on the wall. “I see nothing special about those paintings except for the fact that they are unexceptional,” you turn back to meet my eyes and in them you can see that you have missed the point. “Well,” you continue, “perhaps if I look again?”
“Yes,” I reply, “take another look and tell me what you see.” I take a sip of my red wine while waiting for your second inspection. After setting my glass down on the table I twirl the thick stem of the hotel glass in my fingers. The wine has no legs, it’s the kind a hotel provides for free at their evening social.
You look back at the two paintings hung on the wall, trying desperately to see what I am trying to lead you towards. The frames are black, cheap bulk industrial frames no doubt. Between the two paintings is a TV that is blaring tonight’s Wheel of Fortune, but that is just a distraction. What could it be about these paintings? And then you see it.
“The matting!” you shout too loud for this lazy hotel lounge.
“Yes, so you’ve seen it too now,” I lean in closer, “why so much on the bottom? It seems intentionally off doesn’t it?”
The paintings are being dragged visually to the floor by an over-abundance of matting. There is the print, and then as much unused matting under the print as the print is high. Perhaps an artistic choice, or perhaps some frame shop’s idea of a joke. In any case, it’s unattractive and looks annoyingly out of place. Once you see it you cannot stop seeing it, the giant white blank spots of matting scream out at viewers from across the room.
“So,” you ask turning back to me, “that’s the situation?” You give me an incredulous smirk, “that’s why you distracted me from my buffet salad?
I have to think now, how to explain the oddness of this place, how to best explain it, and then I remember what first made me realize the ridiculousness of it all. “No,” I say, “it was the rice.”
“The rice. You mentioned that before but I didn’t know what you meant,” you nervously nudge your glass of white wine a millimeter across the table with your finger.
“It was what I noticed before everything else. This buffet we both ate at tonight, they had rice, cream of mushroom soup, Italian-type sandwich-sized bruschetta things, salad fixings, and more. But two people,” I pause to make sure you’re still with me, “two people just had rice,” my voice trails off as I point out that last detail.
“Just rice?” You’re unsure how to respond except by reiterating my last words in the form of a question.
“Yep, a giant bowl of rice and nothing else. Big mounds of it in a bowl. And they just dug right into it like it was perfectly normal. Like it was the best bowl of Cheerios they ever had!” I can see now that you understand and my own voice has risen above the din of the hotel’s makeshift dining room.
You correct my eagerness by continuing softly, “Well, perhaps it was perfectly normal for them?”
“No, I think it was something else,” I say, “I think they just have no clue how to put food together, as in seriously no idea at all. So instead of risking putting the wrong thing in the wrong place, they just ate an entire bowl of rice because it was safer that way.”
“That sounds horrible,” you say.
“It is!” I stop and point at your plate, “Look, you put salad on top of your rice. Right? And I put the broccoli soup on top of my rice. Both perfectly reasonable things to choose. Something any normal human would know to do.”
“Yes,” you say, an unsure frown forming on your lips.
“Neither of us in our wildest dreams would have thought that filling up a large bowl with plain white rice and eating it was a reasonable thing to do!”
“No, clearly not,” you say.
“So why them? Why would they do that?” I ask, “To say nothing of the pool. Have you seen that yet? That’s even worse.”
I entered the hotel restaurant leaving the noise of the lobby behind the slow swoosh of a large glass door. Inside the restaurant it was dark, like all upper crust restaurants seem to be. Standing at a small podium were two young people, probably in their early twenties.
“Table for one, sir?”
“Yes please.” I said.
The hostess removed herself from behind the podium, grabbed a sheet of thick paper that I took to be a menu, and marched off through the sea of mostly-empty tables. I followed.
Soon enough she stopped and pointed towards an unremarkable table, “Will this be acceptable?” she asked?
“Yes, thank you.” I replied.
She handed me the menu. “Justin will be with you shortly.”
“Thank you.” I replied.
I scanned the menu looking over the short list of available items. That’s another thing about fancy restaurants, small menus. I immediately discounted the fish options, not my cup of tea. Some of the other dishes looked good but had at least one ingredient that ruined it, there always is in fancy restaurants. In addition to chicken and potatoes, they feel the need to add pine nuts and water chestnuts. Or instead of beef and potatoes they decide that it would be better with edamame and fish sauce. At least small menus make the decision easier. I picked the braised short ribs. They sounded like they hadn’t been too bastardized. There were Brussels sprouts, but I felt I could eat around those if I had to. I placed the menu on the table in front of me ti indicate to the staff that I was ready to order.
Another young person walked towards me. It was a male, and looking right at me while he quickly closed the distance. This must be Justin.
“Hello, my name is Justin. Can I start you with a drink?”
I had prepared the response in my head even before he asked the question. Before he had arrived actually.
“Yes, and I’m ready to order as well.”
“Ok, great! What can I get started for you?” I find his enthusiasm slightly off-putting.
I broke eye contact and stared at the far wall instead of the eager eyes of the waiter in front of me. “I’ll have a Tanqueray and tonic, and for dinner the braised short ribs.”
“Ok, excellent choice sir! I’ll bring some bread out for you too.”
That would be great, thank you.” I said.
As Justin left another nameless waitstaff appeared. He filled my water glass and removed the wine glass that I would not need. As quietly as he arrived he left. Never said a word. I was fine with this.
While waiting for my meal a couple arrived. An older woman and a younger lady. I watched as the same hostess who had led me through the dining room now led these two. To my surprise she sat them directly across from me. Odd choice I thought. I was sitting facing the windows and street, their table was turned ninety degrees from mine and about ten feet in front of me. They faced each other, and I faced them. With nothing else to look at I decided I would watch them.
The younger of the pair was also the fatter of the two. Modern society I figured, too many french fries and too much ice cream. She was easily less than half the other woman’s age. Mother and daughter I assumed. They both had that southern look, it’s hard to put your finger on it but you know it when you see it. Lips that stay pursed except when speaking and a little squint in the eyes, this latter an artifact of too much sun I supposed. Jewelry on view, big rings and large necklaces. All of this on display over draping clothes that could also double as curtains.
I watched as the younger of the two began to cry. How unexpected! My gin and tonic arrived just in time for the show. I squeezed the lime into the clear drink and took a sip. I placed the drink down in a couple places on the table, trying to decide where it should go. The fat girl was still crying, but was also buttering a second slice of bread in between sobs. I wished that I could hear better.
The older lady buttered bread too, but with much less emotion. No emotion in fact. Those pursed southern lady lips only parted to allow the bread to enter. The bawling girl two feet in front of her was having no effect. I decided that the fat girl probably cries a lot and the old lady is tired of it.
My meal arrived and I barely noticed. It was a good thing that the meat was “fork tender”, I had mentally checked into the conversation in front of me, a knife would have been beyond my ability.
Once the fat girl turned her head towards me and me made eye contact. Yes, I thought to myself, very awkward. I allowed my lips to form a smile, not a I just won ten dollarssmile, just enough to say yes, I am aware of your presence in front of me and I can do little else but watch you such is our proximity and the angle of our seating arrangement, I’m sure you can understand.
As I finished my meal Justin returned. We went through the paces of him asking if I want desert, me declining desert but ordering another drink, and him saying very well sir, I’ll bring your check but please stay as long as you would like.
I watched the couple a while longer, the fat one stopped crying eventually and I never did get a clue what it was that set her off in the first place. As I was getting ready to leave an old Japanese man arrived who walked hunched over due to some old person’s debilitation, like his skeleton was folding in on itself. He sat on the same side as me, facing out the windows towards the street. I thought to myself that this must be where they put the single guys. Me and Japan Man sitting facing Fat Girl and Old Lady.
The Man entered the restaurant leaving the noise of the hotel lobby behind the swoosh of a large glass door. He crossed the dimly-lit entranceway to where two young twenty-somethings await his arrival. Both were fine arts majors at the local community college, they had chosen this restaurant to work at due to its proximity to the museum. Tonight however they were waitstaff at this upscale hotel restaurant. It was Jenny’s turn, so as the man approached she said the same thing she would say a hundred times tonight, with minor variations, “Table for one, sir?”
The Man seemed distracted and responded with something that Jenny couldn’t quite understand. She didn’t think he responded in the negative, so Jenny grabbed one of the thick paper menus stored at the hostess station and began walking towards the line of tables. The man followed her, they always did Jenny thought. She looked good tonight and she knew it. The hotel required that restaurant staff wear black, but they didn’t say what that had to be. Jenny had long, straight, black hair and she was wearing black everything else tonight: eyeliner, form-fitting dress that ended at her thighs, black tights, and black platform heels.
She stopped at a random table and gestured towards it, “Will this be acceptable?” she asked knowing full well what he would say in return.
“Yes, thank you.” the man replied.
She handed him the menu. He was dressed differently from most of the men who came into this restaurant. He didn’t look like the normal business men who came down from their company-paid hotel rooms to get whiskey drunk with their friends and make lewd comments towards her. Those men were easy to spot with their business-casual sport coats, tan khaki pants, and slicked-back hair. He also wasn’t a family man, too casual were his gestures, too empty was his finger, and too reserved his mannerisms. It didn’t matter, she supposed, she was a hostess tonight and her job was to put him at a table, she had done that.
“Justin will be with you shortly.”
“Thank you.” he replied.
Jenny walked back to the hostess kiosk wondering if the man was watching her go. She hoped so. Not because she found him especially attractive, but just because she liked the feeling of being watched. When she reached the kiosk she turned quickly, flicking her hair in an arc away from her face as she did. That usually did it. To her dismay the man was not watching her at all, instead he appeared to be lost in thought gazing out the window. Oh well. His loss. Jenny grabbed the stack of menus and straightened them like a deck of cards. They made a satisfying thump on the table as she did so.
Jenny watched as the waiter Justin made his way slowly over to the man’s table. Justin had asked her out on multiple occasions and every time she had giggled and said she was sorry but she was busy. She didn’t mind Justin, but he was too geeky for her. He was an engineering student, there was no way he could understand the things she did about fine art, it just wouldn’t work. Better to let him down easy by leaving the door open instead of a flat out refusal. She was of course aware of the effect she had on men of all ages, but she couldn’t bear to completely shut them down. Besides, you never knew.
Jenny was interrupted in her thoughts by two women who had arrived at her podium and were waiting for her to say something. The older of the two was clearly in charge, so Jenny directed her question to her. “Table for two?” Jenny asked.
With the negotiations complete Jenny went through her ritual of picking a table. How about another table for Justin’s section? She led the couple over to a small table by the window. She asked if it was ok and it was. She told them Justin would be with them shortly and made her way back to the hostess station. She giggled at the thought that perhaps one of the women was watching her leave like the men usually did.
After arriving back at the hostess station she turned and gazed out over the sea of tables. From here she could see nearly every table in the restaurant. It was still early, and most of the tables were empty so she resigned herself to watching the two tables she had just sat. The man had a drink now, something clear. Vodka tonic perhaps? Or maybe a gin and tonic? She couldn’t tell if there was a lemon or a lime in the drink, that would certainly help to narrow down the options of what else might be in the glass. What was it one of her professors had said about art? Form, space, color, line, and texture. She unfocused her eyes and attempted to see the whole room at once. How many colors were here? Brown wood paneling, amber lights, blue from the glass candle covers, and black shadows. Outside the sky was on its way through the blues, about to descend into the ultra-dark blue of night.
Motion brought her back to her senses. It was one of the waitstaff bringing the man his meal. From here she could tell it was the short ribs, the white bone sticking up in the middle of the plate was a giveaway. Jenny watched as the man picked up a fork, the wrong one, and began to eat. She noticed as he was eating he seemed to be watching the two women in front of him. Perhaps it was a bad idea to set them so close together like that. The women might complain, and then she would have to find them another table. If the manager found out then she would get a talking to about personal space, and how the customer is always right. Which is bullshit, of course.
Jenny watched the man watching the women. Most people who ate alone in the restaurant looked at their phones the entire time. Sometimes this happened with tables full of people too. Maybe he knows one of them? Or, maybe he knows both of them! That was much more exciting to think about. Jenny began concocting an elaborate story in her head of a love triangle that was sure to erupt into a finale in front of her. The man with two lovers who sees them both in a restaurant eating together. If the movies she had seen all her life were true, there would be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the whole thing but the shouting matches would start before anyone had a chance to explain. To Jenny’s dismay this didn’t happen. Instead normal life continued on in its dogged pace. The man kept eating, the women sat at their table, and an older gentleman was now standing in front of her at the hostess station.
“Table for one?”
Ahh Justin, what are you doing? Your’e supposed to be studying for your fluid dynamics exam but instead you agreed to work a double shift tonight. You had to look at the crew roster didn’t you? And you had to notice that she was working. Her. Jenny. You think she’s wearing that short dress again tonight?
You exit the kitchen to enter the dining room and have your question answered. Just as you exited the swinging double doors, the kind with two round windows in it, she was there walking some dude to a table. And yes, of course she was wearing that short black dress. She probably did it on purpose. Of course she does you idiot. She seats the man at one of your tables. Well, you think, the solo guys usually tip pretty well. At least it’s not one of those bible thumper groups, they are always the worst. Once you worked a table of five of them and when you looked at the receipt nothing but “God loves you” was written on the tip line. That’s great, you thought at the time, but God’s love doesn’t pay for my textbooks.
After an acceptable amount of time, you make your way over to the man’s table. You wonder on the way if she might be watching you. Maybe you should ask her out again tonight? AS you get closer to the table you wonder about the customer. Will this be Mr. Important, or Mr. I’m Too Busy To Look At You? Maybe it’ll be Mr. I’m so Lonely Will You Please Talk To Me. Looks can be deceiving, you’ve learned your lesson there after three month of being a waiter at this hotel restaurant. Okay, here we go Justin, show time.
“Hello, my name is Justin. Can I start you with a drink?” Ugh, how many times will you say that tonight you wonder.
“Yes, and I’m ready to order as well.” This customer is looking up Justin. Probably going to be one of those eats quick, tips well and gets out guys.
“Ok, great! What can I get started for you?” You hate that you have to say that, but the management has made it clear that what they order is always a good idea. It might even beone of your favorites.
“I’ll have a Tanqueray and tonic, and for dinner the braised short ribs.” the man replies.
“Ok, excellent choice sir! I’ll bring some bread out for you too.” Did you put too much emphasis on the excellent choice part?
“That would be great, thank you.” the man says. He doesn’t seem to have noticed whether or not you over-sold your enthusiasm. So much the better. You make a note of his drink and dinner and turn to return to the kitchen.
There she is Justin. Standing there at that hostess station. Yes, that settles it, you’ll ask her out tonight again. There’s a new movie coming out with superheros in it, she’s artsy so she probably likes movies. You think back to the other times you asked her out. She never said “No” did she? No she didn’t Justin, you’ve got this, you’ve got a shot.
You make your way to the kitchen trying not to look at her on the way. This is impossible of course. You settle for looking but not looking, a skill you’ve mastered since you hit puberty.
Back in the kitchen you enter the order into the computer system. You briefly wonder at the slight magic of it all. You enter the order here and printers across the restaurant spring to life with whatever the customer has ordered. The bar gets one for the drink, and the kitchen gets one for the meal. In the office the main computer records the sale, updates the expected quantities of alcohol that should be at the bar, updates the sales figured for the night and who entered it. That would be you Justin.
It’s a slow night so you go back to the double doors to look at Jenny again. If she turned she could probably see you looking out the window at her. If she did you would have to push through them like you were on your way out anyway. Always planning ahead Justin, that’s the engineer in you.
You can’t see your table from here, but you don’t care. There are runners for the food and drinks, you only have to take the order, check up once during the meal, and then arrive somewhere towards the end to ask about desert and coffee.
She seems to be looking out over the dining room and you can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking of. Certainly not math equations and physics. The engineering girls think about that, but the engineering girls don’t look like Jenny. What does a girl like Jenny think about? You asked one of the other guys in the kitchen about her once but he only laughed at you. “You think you have a chance with that?” he had said.
You return your gaze to her. Be careful Justin, there’s that line. The line between gazing affectionately and staring. Just a little bit more you think. She would have said no right? You’ve been over this a thousand times in your head but still cannot come to a conclusion. She would have said no if she wasn’t interested. She didn’t say “I have a boyfriend”, she didn’t laugh and go “ohmygodno”. She had only said she was busy. That’s basically a yes, right? You’ve got this Justin. Now you just have to think of what to say. Maybe if you look at her again something will come to mind.