August 24, 1998
All I can think of now is "Somebody voted for that guy." This is why I have my doubts about the democratic system. According to the system, that atomic explosion last Monday was a mandate from the people.
Okay, here's what I remember. I was hanging out with some friends in downtown Oakland, just me and them and these magnificent dawn-grey 1920s buildings looming around us. It was still really dark, but the business crowd and the all-night partiers were up with us, peppering the streets lightly with friendly faces.
I was enjoying the Star-Nicole dynamic. Cola's my best friend, the one who listens to Soul Coughing with me while we stay up till 2 geeking our way across the web in the Mills College computer lab. She's all round and cute and always wearing some neat little outfit, and she gets mistaken for everything from white to Latina because she's biracial. Star, on the other hand, is paler than the underside of Jesse Helms, my punk anarchist radical queer working-class ex-girlfriend, big brother, and roommate.
Apparently Oakland is pretending to be the city that never sleeps tonight, 'cause there are these two guys hanging out on their front steps. They're kinda nerdy, but I feel like some experimentation, something new and strange tonight, so I lower my standards and we ask them if they wanna hang out and go for a walk with us. (Wish it were that easy all the time!)
Star shoots us a look for inviting these random three-leggers along, but we feed her enough attention and petting to keep her happy, balancing the attention between the three boys - I mean the two boys and her - as we freeze our butts off in the stark, clean, still-starry air.
The guys are probably ten years older than us, but guys are like wine - it takes them that long to ripen. I remember mine clearly - sort of pink and balding with little wiry silver glasses like John Lennon. Maybe he is John and the whole assassination was faked - but no way, he'd be like thirty years older. I don't remember his name, but he seems like a Reggie so that's what I call him.
I have sort of a Star/Cola split inside me. Part of me is exploring my bisexuality, chatting these guys up, and part of me is studying their guy-clothes and hair and mannerisms so I can work on passing as a guy myself. Of course, all they can see is the mild flirting.
Among all the dark store fronts advertising formalwear and morning coffee, there's one that leaps out all bright and shiny. Someone's opened a fishing shop, and it's just packed with lines and lure and vests and boots and guys. Everyone's up before it's even light out to go fishing on Lake Merritt, just because this store's here, because as far as I know there's not a fish in the whole lake. Of course, I'm not exactly a "crew chick;" my entire experience of the lake is limited to a strip of grass, a walking path, and about ten feet of water, bottles, plastic bags, and birds.
We all plunge into the store, shielding our eyes against the fluorescent light. There are so many fishing rods hanging from the shelves and ceiling, I'm suprised 911 hasn't been called in to replace any lost eyeballs yet. Some of them have fuschia, orange, metallic disco-bunny clumps of feathers hooked up already, in a sort of plug-and-play scenario for the sportsman. If I were a fish cruising around in the dark green thick water with my quiet school of fish friends and someone dropped that screaming fashion victim of a fly in front of me... but as a human, I kind of like it. Makes me want to hurl it into the air and bat at it like my cat.
In my sleep-deprived stupor, I end up sitting on the yellow industrial carpeting, looking up through this decorative fan of fishing rods. On a hunch, I grab the bottom one and lift it, and the other four rods come too, tied together somehow so I can catch five fish at once if I want. There are probably about as many in this store as anywhere else in town. Maybe I got it wrong and they're going out on the bay. The sunrise will be stunning out there.
There are magenta and royal blue furry feathery things like rayon mice hanging from these rods and I sit staring at them for like ten more minutes. One of the guys comes over to see what I'm on, I mean what I'm doing, and soon the guys and I and some friend of theirs are all standing around shooting the breeze. I can bluff pretty well so we talk about fishing, the cool tan vest on the wall with twenty pockets just in front, the vast array of hooks and flies and so on.
I miss my friends and start looking around for them. I'm cycling back and forth between "I can fly-fish as well as any man!" and "Why the hell am I in here?" It's the quintessential feminist dilemma, maybe.
Suddenly this crazy alarm starts going off and they make everyone sit down, duck and cover, but everyone just starts talking at once there on the floor. Somehow I find out that this is a bomb warning, we are sitting on the floor because someone is threatening to use the nuclear bomb. I'm thinking, "hey, Berkeley is full of bomb shelters," but really I know I can't walk all the way to one in a shower of burning radioactive ash even if I knew where the nearest shelter was. Everyone is babbling at once. This is seventies stuff, man! This isn't today's big fear, right? Where are the homophobia and racism alarms, the classism and sexism alarms, the endangered species alarms?
But it's going to be okay, nobody would actually use The Bomb, this is all just a false alarm the President's using to scare some tiny essentially powerless group of terrorists - and then somehow my inner eye cuts to the dark end of night far outside, and sees the ticking in my head stop as there is a huge boom and a slightly crooked pillar of flame and smoke rises in that familiar ringed cloud.
And I can't believe someone did that, and it must have been pretty close because there is a circle of light flying out from the cloud and before I understand what's happening Reg flares up, flame consuming him from bottom to top, and I know we're all screaming but I can't hear a thing.
And just as it occurs to me that I can't possibly be going to survive, I feel myself flare up too, and my mind runs around crazily till the flame has, slow-motion, achieved my waist, and then I realize, hey, I'm still here, I'm not going to die, and then it boils up me and leaves me all black and twisted like a used match and my mind is a single bright green light in the darkness and I'm holding on to consciousness just as long as I can because if I'm going to die I sure as hell want to see what happens next.
You want to know what happened next?
Well, my mind felt really intense and minty like I was really stoned and being plunged into reality. Then I felt that bright pinpoint of my mind go out and everything faded into fuzzy warm darkness. I woke up into the middle of this life and wrote it all down.
I've modified my ideas about reincarnation somewhat now. Maybe we're all living several of our lives at once and we just switch over into one that's still running when we die. Time isn't any more linear than matter is, right?
Anyway, it was a weird dream.