Chapter Two: Dwayne's Dreams
Dwayne is having beers with the drummer in his band, Henry, and some of Henry’s friends. This is the typical Wednesday hump day gathering for Henry and his friends to which Dwayne has an open invitation, but to which he comes only sporadically. The bar is a mega, select the game you want to watch establishment with televisions in every corner and a large screen for a featured game above the bar. The table of men are at the large round table in the middle of the bar. Dwayne came tonight because he wanted to talk about dreams. He guides the conversation. Did they ever dream of people they didn’t know? No, not celebrities or historical figures, but common people they had never seen and didn’t know who they were? Dwayne explains that recently he has been seeing a woman, the same woman, in his dreams every night. After some laughter and some questions related to what she was wearing, Henry says, “You have to have seen her before, you just don’t remember.” Henry says he just read something about it online. In dreams you remember things you couldn’t awake. They live in Los Angeles. How many people did they pass in the street each day? Dwayne presses because it seems like too easy of an answer. Why would one person randomly passed on the street show up in a dream? Is it something special about this woman? Does it mean that a person could have meant something more if he had consciously noticed her while walking by and stopped to talk to her? Could dreams mean more than what we typically think? Dwayne says he read that dreams were answers to questions we didn’t know we needed to ask. Or maybe he had heard that our dreams today answer questions we would only know to ask tomorrow. Dwayne avoids telling these men about his recent research on dreams and that these theories were based on the work of the psychologists Freud and Jung and the psychic, Edward Cayce. Dwayne hasn't found the answers he is seeking in this research. He is hoping these men could provide more real world answers. He asks a more general question. When you dream what are your dreams about? These guys are used to talking sports, but not used to divulging personal information. In a very short time, the men are talking sex dreams.
Guys are bad enough exaggerating about their actual sexual activities. It is interesting they feel they have to embellish in their dreams as well. This conversation offers no answers to Dwayne’s questions. He mentally withdraws a little from the conversation and begins to look around the bar. He notices a leggy blonde, years younger than him, looking directly at him. Dwayne never really likes talking about sex. He doesn’t see the point. It is one of the topic areas that causes Dwayne to label himself as a social introvert. Sex is one of several topic areas which made him often feel like he is on the outside of a group looking in. No one else in a social gathering would see Dwayne as an outsider. He has a great sense of humor and an ability to make others feel comfortable and at ease. People are always happy when the charming and handsome Dwayne Hucks accepts an invitation to a party or a group event. It just that he doesn’t think that social gatherings like this are usually the best use of his time. These guys are nice enough to be around, but he doesn’t expect that he would ever get to the point with any of them, except Henry, that he would really call them his friend. Henry is his friend because they play together in the band. Dwayne thinks of all the people in his band as friends, but in the way he had always thought of team members in sports as friends. Most of the people he calls friends he doesn’t take the time to get to know well. When he takes the time to think about why he doesn’t have friends who he feels especially close to he always thinks that it is just the reality of being a guy. Few guys he knows ever talk to each other about anything real.
Dwayne’s one exception to this is another band member, Alex. Alex and Dwayne talk about music and that is as real as it gets for Dwayne. Alex never comes to Henry’s Wednesday night hump day gatherings. Dwayne and Alex see each other when the band plays or practices. During the eight weeks a year when the band travels on tour, Alex and Dwayne are constant companions.
Dwayne used to think of himself as a loner, but changed his self-label to social introvert. A loner is someone who avoids the company of others and prefers to be by himself. He is a song writer and a poet and he needs to experience people to write authentic songs. He is not a loner, but he often wants to be alone. He doesn’t think of himself as belonging to a group of friends or any one set of people; except for his band. So while Dwayne is not a loner, he is not by nature, a joiner.
The sex talk now reminds Dwayne, again, of the reason he feels like an outsider in social situations with other men. He has tried unsuccessfully for years to figure out why men like to talk about sex so much. The guys seem to be bragging about how often women ask them for sex. He has to admit there are some funny stories, but he doubts the accuracy of most of the stories. Henry gives Dwayne a knowing look, but Dwayne stays quiet. Henry knows that Dwayne gets more than his share. His band members often tease him about it. Dwayne has never been able to talk casually with men about sex. Someone makes a comment about Dwayne’s age and he gives them a funny reply. Dwayne thinks to himself that most of what young people think getting old means is all ass backwards. He is the oldest man in the group by twenty years probably. He will be fifty this summer, but he has as many physical needs as he has ever had and is enjoying sex just as much as he ever had. The leggy, younger blonde is still looking directly at him. She drinks from a straw seductively when she sees he notices her. She is wearing tight jeans and a tight black t-shirt. He does like black on a blonde woman. The more the men talk, the more he realizes he is probably getting more than any of them. Making fun of him for being older! A few funny comments run through his head, but why make them feel bad? What is the purpose in that?
Dwayne thinks to himself that the blonde cannot be thirty yet. He wonders if he should approach her. What the Hell? He excuses himself from the table of men and tells them he is going home. Of course, there are more comments about his age and needing to get to bed early. On his way out of the bar, he approaches the woman and invites her back there tomorrow night for a drink. He walks out of the bar wondering why guys talk about it so much when it is so easy just to do? Doesn’t it feel better to do than to talk about it?
Dwayne asks his neighbor, Eugene, as they jog the next morning, if he ever had people in his dreams he didn’t know? Are his dreams realistic or did he ever dream about a place he could not imagine? Eugene asks if he couldn’t imagine it, how could he dream it? It is a damn good question.
Thursday night Dwayne meets up with the tall blonde who turns out to be much younger than he had thought the night before; barely twenty two and a student at the college where he teaches. She is wearing a black low cut blouse and high stiletto shoes which makes her even a little taller than he is. As he sits down, he notices, peaking from under her blouse on the left shoulder, a star tattoo. It occurs to him that younger people think more openly about things in general and that this is an opportunity to question a younger person about dreams. He asks her, “Are you always in your dreams?” Her face indicates she is uncomfortable and he realizes he phrased it awkwardly. He tries to figure out if she could have interpreted it as a sexual innuendo and then tries to figure out what innuendo that might have been. He rephrases the question, “do you dream from a first person’s perspective?” She giggles and says she doesn’t understand what he means when he says first person. What are they teaching these kids in college these days? He realizes that the question is one only an older person would ask. This makes him think about exactly how young this woman is. He usually does not date women younger than 30 unless they made the first move. He remembers she had looked at him first, but still, she is really a child playing grown-up. He rephrases the question. “Do you dream like you are looking out of your own eyes or do you ever dream and see yourself? Are you an actor in your dream or an audience member simply looking on?” He didn’t really get an answer to these questions. When she decides she has to make an early night of it because of work the next day, he understands and thinks to himself that it is probably for the best.
He notices a different blonde woman, leggy and more age appropriate, looking at him and goes over to buy her a drink. There are plenty of leggy blondes in LA. He decides he better not talk about dreams anymore tonight, but to concentrate on other needs. It is not difficult for Dwayne to get female attention. He is tall, brown hair, brown eyes. His nose, passed on from his paternal side, is a little over sized for his face. Both he and his brother have all the same family traits and coloring. Yet people said his brother wasn’t nearly as handsome. He couldn’t figure it out. He looks just like his brother, but he is somehow more handsome? In his teen years, before he married at age 18, he had been readily seduced by women much older. Today he has scars, skin a little tough from too much sun, wrinkles at the eyes. People say it makes him more handsome and, in the last five years, younger women seem to like this older version of him. At the age of forty, he seldom attracted attention from women in their twenties. Now, approaching fifty, twenty-something year old women were trying to seduce him. He doesn't quite understand why and is often embarrassed by it. People’s reaction to him had somewhat embarrassed him ever since he was a kid. People had always wanted to talk to him (young people and adults) as if being handsome made him more congenial and more interesting as a person. He always preferred books to people. For a while he had been irritated because he wanted so much to be smart and he didn’t think you could be handsome and intelligent. He realized, as he aged, that a person could be handsome and smart, but that you needed to hide the intelligence a little or people would find you intimidating.
Dwayne returns home from his “date” thinking about dreams. He is a little obsessed about dreams these days. His dreams have changed. His dreams had always been from a first person perspective: looking out through his eyes as he participated in the dream. His dreams had always been realistic as dreams go. He might dream that he was riding a bull even though he never had. He might dream he was back in the stock room of the restaurant where he lost his virginity 36 years ago, but the bull was a typical bull, the stock room looked like a stock room and the 20 year old waitress he lost his virginity to still looked the same. She hadn’t grown a third boob or anything. He had never dreamed he was walking on clouds, that the sky was orange, or that he had super-human powers. Before the last few weeks, his dreams had been normal; sometimes about the past or about something he wishes he had done differently. He had always been in his dreams and experienced them through his eyes.
He wonders if dreams change with age. There was nothing about that in the research, but it seems plausible. His dreams stay with him longer and he remembers the details; even though there are fewer details to remember. These days he dreams from an outside perspective. He is in his dreams. He can see himself, but he isn’t seeing through his dream’s self’s eyes. There is only one other person in his dreams; a tall woman. She is always moving just out of his vision. The world of his dreams is only the color blue surrounding him everywhere, the color blue in a world without shadows, hues or dimensions, an image of himself walking somewhere in the blue, and this woman in another area of the blue. The two of them never meet in his dreams. They are always in different parts of the blue world.
They are different ages at different times. He believes that, if this woman exists in real life, she is near his age. He isn’t sure why he thinks this. He sees himself at age 14 and he remembers the shirt he is wearing. He remembers the day he used his own money and picked it out himself. Geez, it was an ugly shirt. He sees himself older than he is today which he thinks is an interesting experience. He can always focus in his dreams to see himself. It is the woman he wants to see clearly, but she seems always to be turning her head or her body or floating to a different part of the blue just as he is focusing in on her. He sees her dancing. She wears her strawberry blonde hair in a bun. She is twirling and kicking. Professional dancer! She is sometimes blonder and closer to his age. Her body language is a little defeated. He sees her once sitting cross legged, yoga style, but she floats out of view. Only once has he seen her clearly. She is a teenager sleeping. Her hair is red, long and thick floating out from around her against the blue. She has such long legs and arms. It occurs to him he is staring at a teenager sleeping and he looks away. When he looks back, she is gone. He wants to see her more clearly; especially when she appears as his age. He wants the he in his dreams to see her and talk to her. He wants to know why he is suddenly having dreams of her.
He finds himself not concentrating as well as he should while teaching the music appreciation classes at the community college or while giving guitar lessons. He is glad the summer is almost here. In the summer his country band tours a little. They travel either to the Pacific Northwest or into the Southwest and Rocky Mountains. It is mostly during this time that he writes songs and poems. He gave up long ago on fame. He had a little taste of fame once and it almost destroyed him. Giving up on fame has not lessened his desire, his need, to perform and to write songs. In terms of the poetry, he thinks it is a little ridiculous; a man almost fifty and writing poetry. He couldn’t seem to stop though. How ridiculous to spend his time that way! He jokes that there ought to be a twelve step program for poets. Who would write poetry if they could avoid it?
It makes him happy just thinking about the summer. In the summers, he is his most authentic self. It is his reason for living. The only thing he feels great passion for are those eight weeks when he gets to travel, perform, write songs and, yes, poetry. He plays local bars year round and writes a little, but it is in the summer in the tour bus with the guys driving through a desert or through a mountain pass when he most feels like writing. He hasn’t written much in the last few weeks. He started a poem-wasn’t sure of the inspiration-but hadn’t seemed able to finish it.
He wrote the verse the morning after his first dream of the woman and the blue world.
In the darkness of a new moon,
I did not see her eyes take flight.
Her fright was hidden from my sight.
She hugged me once quite tight
Whispered I had asked too soon
Before she turned to flee
From me on bended knee.
Wasn’t sure why he had felt like writing about a proposal. His ex-wife had answered yes quickly, so this wasn’t a memory. He also didn’t understand why he couldn’t finish the poem. Seems like the next verse should be clear. The man would pursue the woman, try to find out why she was so afraid. Strange how he hadn’t written anything else since he had been having these dreams.
He isn’t sure why he is having these dreams now or why his dreams changed, but he tries to tell himself that it will turn out to be a good thing. Hell, they could drive him crazy as they have been or he could reckon them a good omen of the summer to come. He might as well be positive. The woman is sure to become clearer in his dreams and be the inspiration for one or two great songs. Why else would he be having these dreams? He thinks again about Jung, Freud and Cayce. Are dreams the answers to tomorrow’s questions or to today’s questions which he hadn’t known needed to be asked? If she is the answer, what is the question?
Dwayne thinks about the color blue. In his dreams the world is a sky blue. The more he thinks about it, the more he is sure the color blue will be part of his summer songs. There is a lot of imagery in the color blue and a lot of great rhymes. He gets ready for bed anticipating eagerly tonight’s dream.