When I was in law school, a friend was assaulted on the street by a homeless man. The homeless man walked up to my friend, made a fist, issued some inapposite accusation, and then in windmill fashion hurled his fist on top of my friend's head, making a huge knot. When my friend called a policeman, the policeman explained that arresting the man would be pointless. This was the early 1980s, and nobody was going to get a troubled man the mental health care he needed, merely because he was inflicting corporal punishment on passersby.
The story is the sort of stark, Reagan years, I can't believe this happened type of thing that really did and does happen all too often. But the story is part of this post for a different reason--I'm pretty sure the same thing happened to me as well a few years later. I have a recollection of being hit by a man as I walked down the street in Los Angeles. I was walking tonight by Towne Lake Park, the peaceful large lake park in McKinney, when this memory came back to me once again. The problem is, though, I cannot remember if it is really a memory or if it is really a dream.
When I was a young teen, the "hot" album for everyone to have was
Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band". It was so cool!
It had a great title song that mentioned the most famous groupie from my home state, the redoubtable "Sweet, sweet Connie", who, of all things, made the acquaintance of one of my law school acquaintances in a mild brouhaha over a man. The story is just bizarre enough that I am unwilling to post it publicly, for fear it might be apocryphal, so I'll return to the Grand Funk story. Grand Funk was a special band for me--it was my first rock concert, the first LP length cassette I ever owned. I still remember all the words to "I'm Your Captain", the great narrative song about some poor joker who suffers a mutiny (but wonders if he is having a dream). Grand Funk Railroad was also my first rock concert, in roughly 1973, in Barton Auditorium, where the band was simply wonderful playing their odd brand of metal-lite in a haze of marijuana smoke that could have passed for a rope manufacturing facility. As I never imbibe controlled substances, and certainly did not at 13, it was very odd indeed to experience this novel form of second hand smoke. I smelled like a chimney when the show was over, albeit a chimney of things Dick Van Dyke never dreamed about cleaning.
The problem with "We're an American Band" is that one day I told a friend after junior high football practice that I had finally gotten the record for my birthday. My friend told me that I had already claimed to have gotten the record. I'm not the lying kind, so I wondered--did I somehow convince myself I had it, and then tell someone I did, merely because I wanted it so badly?
What about that road trip on Highway 10, on a September day, just north of Little Rock, twenty years ago? Did I really see a herd of tarantulas cross the road, causing me to have to stop, or did I just read about it in a book, and then have a dream in which this took place? I think that one was real, but I no longer am certain.
Usually, it's not that hard for me to sort reality from dream.
In dreams, the plot usually advances much further than in real life. The plot threads often add up to understandable narratives in dreams, while in real life they add up to so many threads, kinda like turning kittens loose in the yard factory. In real life, I experience a certain inward "thud" that tells me that "this is real".
But I have a few memories that I question, and that bothers me.
I question almost every time I think I've overheard a derogatory
comment whispered about me by people standing yards away. Are they real, or Daydream Memorex? I know that first kiss was real, because I handled it so gracelessly, but did I really "get it" when I thought a soul or two was flirting with me, or did my imagination just invent it?
I just went to a convenience store to buy a single piece of Cajun chicken that they make at the convenience store. Don't ask me why, but that cajun chicken is incredibly tasty--it's not Popeye's or any brand I never heard of, but it is so good I will set aside my usual avoidance of fried foods, to buy it from a gas station, of all places. The clerk asked me what I wanted, and I said one thigh and one breast. Then he began shovelling piece after piece after piece into a box for me, and then charged me as if I'd only bought 2 pieces. Now this was understandable and it really happened--it was Sunday evening, and giving away the chicken before it went to waste made perfect sense. But the whole thing was surreal, because he kept muttering to himself, and I could not understand a word, and it could have been a dream. But it wasn't.
Maybe that's why it's so hard to sort through memories and detect reality from daydream from dream. I am pretty darn sane, and on my good days, absolutely boring. But life is so surreal, and that makes dreams seem so much more real.
I guess I should start a journal, or something, to sort out reality from dreams.