I’ve amazed a lot of people over time with the vividness that I recall dreams, and have standing orders from some friends to share them, so I figured I would post a few of them here too. Last night I had a dream that I was keeping a commitment to write 15 pages a day. All of it was handwritten, and I was collecting them in a three-ring binder. I was writing my latest entry, which was a review of an episode of old Matlock. The TV series in my dream, though, didn’t have much resemblance to the actual TV show. One of the most important features of the show was the guest stars.
I was reviewing one of the two episodes of Matlock where Jackie Chan was guest starring as a local superhero. He and Matlock and Matlock’s sidekick were trying to rescue a woman who was being held hostage in a high school. The hallways were lined with red and blue lockers in alternating colors.
They made it to where she was being held in the lunchroom. Jackie Chan started trying to get past the beefy-looking bodyguard, but the battle was going poorly and Matlock wasn’t much help. Jackie punched her captor in squarely in the jaw and barely made his head move to the side. The hostage, a very petite Asian woman wearing an ornate green and gold cheongsam started berating Jackie Chan.
“Aren’t you supposed to be superstrong or something? You’re a terrible Superhero. What kind of rescue is this?” she screeched. After a few more failed attempts at doing any damage to the captor, and several speedy dodges away from the captor’s attacks, Jackie just gave up and picked up the damsel-in-distress, tucked her under his arm and started running away. He ran so fast that he could defy gravity. He started running along the sidewall of the hallways, with the red and blue lockers clanging loudly under his feet as he sped by. Matlock and his sidekick were still standing on the floor, little more than a white-suited blur in the background.
I recalled that when I first saw this episode as a kid, I was amazed at the special effects. As an adult, I could see how they had shot the scene: The lockers were lining the floor as Jackie ran across them. The camera was tilted at an odd 45 degree angle, the woman must have had amazing abdominal strength because she was holding herself absolutely board-straight while tucked under her arm, and her extremely petite frame made it easy for Jackie to carry her in this fashion without it throwing off his balance.
I was surprised when I got a lot of people interested in reading my review of the episode. A lot of people remembered the Matlock episodes with Jackie Chan’s superhero very fondly. One of the woman who complimented the reviews was a friend of mine from junior high school. She asked about a few things about the writing that I had done in junior high: She was pleased to hear I had scanned in some old humorous notes I had passed back and forth with another mutual friend, and asked if I had ever gotten into the Guinness Book of World Records. I explained to her that I hadn’t, and why.
Sometimes it is easy for me to pick out things that happened recently that left their footprints in my dreams. Superheroes were involved because of the discussions I had last night with Jimmydark thinking about running a superhero RPG. Andy Griffith was involved in my dream due to the recent news of his passing. I don’t think there was any particular reason that Jackie Chan would have been brought to mind recently, other than the obvious fact that Jackie Chan is already a superhero.
The lockers and layout of the school came directly from my junior high school, though I can’t tell you why that would have been on my mind in the last few days, but were could have been connected because my parents would have been watching Matlock regularly during the time I was in junior high. The reference to the notes and the book of world records takes a bit more explanation.
When I was in junior high, we had a classperiod that would be a studyhall unless people were involved with music programs. Band met Monday-Wednesday-Friday, Chorus was Tuesday-Thursday, and for those of us in Band that got drafted into the orchestra, we had to go to that on Fridays. I was in all three, so I never had a study hall, but another friend of mine was just in Band & orchestra, so she had two studyhalls during the week. She would regularly use this time to write me boring old notes. It started with things like “I’m writing a boring old note with a boring old pen on a boring old desk in a boring old room in a boring old school….” Sometimes they involved pictures. A couple months ago, I ran across a package of these with a sequence of illustrated puns that she had drawn for me in junior high. I got a huge kick out of seeing them again and several people (even those that didn’t know me in junior high and didn’t catch all the injokes) found them hilarious. I said at the time that I should scan them in, but I will admit that I haven’t yet. In the dream, I had already scanned them in.
After a while of sending me these boring old notes, my friend said she was going to write me a forty-page boring-old-note. I was going to outdo her. I started writing a sixty page note. The problem being that I did not have any studyperiods, so I was pretty far behind. She would ask me periodically about my progress, and I would mumble a lot and eventually told her I gave up. By the time she delivered her beautiful forty-page note (complete with cover, and decorated with dog stickers and lots of illustration and large writing in marker in order to complete the page count), I believe I was on page eight of my retaliatory note. Then she told me she was making a hundred page note.
I hadn’t quite given up on my note. I kept writing throughout the entire school year. Other people noticed. Several people made guest appearances, particularly when I had a section just for drawings. It was thick enough that I had to staple the note in sections. People were whispering. My friend figured out that there was some sort of conspiracy going on, but didn’t know what it was. It felt like everyone else in my classes was keeping the secret, and the two of us were low enough on the social food-chain in junior high that people could have any reason for whispering about us behind our backs, so she did not leap to the immediate conclusion that I was the one to blame for it all.
We both had birthdays in June, shortly after the end of the schoolyear. I think it might have been the same birthday party where she gave me Ainsworth and Bisby’s 6th edition Dictionary of the Fungi with a special appendix on Lichens. She knew my sense of humor well. I had found this shimmering silver foil bag from American Airlines that had plastic handles. It was large enough and sturdy enough to contain the entire boring old note I had written to her. The look on her face when she opened it was absolutely priceless. Suddenly, she knew what months of conspiring whispers around her had been about. There were questions about the Guinness Book of World Records at the time.
Later in the summer, she let me know that she had counted every word of the note to see if it would get us into the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s longest letters. We were close. All we needed was 138 more words and we would have surpassed the current recordholder. We discussed the idea of me writing another couple of pages, but it felt a bit like cheating to add an amendment to the note. We quickly came to the decision to leave our note as it was after finding out about the reason behind the recordholder: He was a soldier who had written a very long letter to his wife while he was stationed in another country, and we did not want to interfere with the beauty of his actions just to get our names in print.