When I worked at Mazda out in California I knew a guy named Serban. I’m a bit ashamed to say that I don’t remember where he was from but only a bit. After all it’s been more than 20 years and memories get bored and decide to fuck with you after a while. I do remember he was a neat man. He had an accent but was easy to understand; he had a great smile and was incredibly friendly. He looked older (or what I thought was older back then. He may have been in his 30’s or 40’s!) but his demeanor was very young. I remember when he started working with us, my boss told us that Serban majored in math just like he did. I asked Serban why in hell anyone would want to major in math. I remember thinking how useless it would be. Psychiatrists major in Psychology, doctors major in Biology, Wall Street dudes major in business or economics or both. But math? I remember thinking that Serban could certainly be a math teacher if he wanted to. So I asked him about it. And I’ll never forget what he told me. Not because it was Gettysburg Address important or meaningful, but because it was an unexpected answer. Plus I really dug the way the man talked. Not because of his accent but because of how his words were arranged. His delivery was like it had been feng shue’d for maximum effect. It worked. He told me (and I’m sorry, words diminish those important moments in life, that’s what the great Stephen King says and that fucker is always right) that the reason a person would major in math is that math just gives you another way of looking at a thing.
It was one of those moments in life I’ll never forget, and I’m glad it’s a good memory. For some reason my brain prefers to hang onto the shitty ones. As though they were suckers licked for an hour and then cast aside by some careless toddler. They stick around is what I mean. They’re impossible to clean away and just nasty to touch. To visit. Serban’s words come back to me time after time, and I apply them to all kinds of situations and they always fit. They’re like a universal jig saw piece, a wild card (twos and jokers baby, twos and jokers). I use them with Ash. I use them when training others at work. I use them because they’re true.
Now, as usual, I’ve gone way off point to get to my actual topic this morning. But I just ask you, if I hadn’t, would you know what the hell I was talking about? You might. But would you take my meaning? Fuck I don’t know. Maybe. But I like to think that you wouldn’t. If for no other reason than to think my gray meat works this way for a reason.
I’m my own worst enemy sometimes. And today this took on new meaning for me. (Slow learner and all that). I dreamed terrible dreams all night last night. They were still Seussy, because that is one exception my brain never makes. My dreams are all gibberish nonsensical bullshit but the bad ones always seem to mean something despite their lack of sense. I have nightmares about the hatchet man. Sure I do; don’t you? But most of the time my bad dreams have nothing to do with that fucker. The “bad guy” in most of my dreams is “being alone” or “doing it wrong” “being laughed at” “being fat” “being left behind”. By everyone. Bear, Ash, the rest of the people in the race. While they’re all paddling or running or flying northward, I’m a full lap behind and am therefore going southward, against a sea of people who just want me to get the hell out of the way. Only at the same time I’m trying to do all the laundry and pack all the suitcases so we can leave in the morning. And that’s all I want to do. I want to get my family and our stuff and leave that place. Before they realize they like that place better than they like me. They like the other “winners” while I’m the one that couldn’t get all the way to the finish line.
Now here’s the really shitty part, and also a bit of a tangent. I swear it’s like every part of my head gets distracted by shiny things. Normally when I dream, if I have to pee in real life I also have to pee in my dreams. Good dream, bad dream, doesn’t matter. The pee takes over the dream like a virus. I wake up and pee and go back to sleep. I haven’t yet peed the bed but it’s probably only a matter of time. Poor Bear. Did my pee take over last night when Bear and Ash were hanging with Amy Shumer and her people and the rest of the people that weren’t left behind? Fuck no it didn’t. One of Shumer’s people tied my dream bladder up and stuffed a dirty rag in its mouth to keep it at bay. Or so I assume. So not only did I wake up feeling sad and ashamed for not being able to keep up, to tie my shoelaces fast enough or stay afloat on my raft at the same pace as the others, but I also woke up with a bladder which is now in more discomfort than even my stupid head. And the worst part is– well, maybe not the worst; the bladder discomfort was pretty bad– that because my dreams are Seuss dreams, I didn’t even understand why I felt the way i felt. I felt sad and inadequate and mean. What a shitty way to start a day. I’d rather have woken up with the damn stomach flu. Instead I’m sitting in my chair, snuggling Simon and watching Lincoln. Letting Daniel Day Lewis’s voice soothe me and make me feel better like it always does. That man’s voice is the pepto bismol to my diarrhea.
Enough time has passed that the details of my dream have begun to diminish. The feelings though, they leave residue every time. Like skid marks in Fat Bastard’s sumo wrestling thong.
I’m not depressed or anything like that. I make enough distinction between dreams and real life for that. Not “real” depression. Just disorientation. I’ll forget about it in time. If not by the time Lincoln ends then at least by the time we get to Tattoo Convention today. I’ll be in my element. Instead of Amy Shumer and her people, it’ll be me and my people. And that’ll be just fine by me. Fuck you Shumer.*
I’m glad Serban told me about looking at things in a different way all those years ago. It helps me to let the bad dreams dissolve and sometimes to keep the good dreams alive. So thanks Serban. Wherever you are. I hope that you are successful and I’m sure you are. And I hope you still have that wonderful and infectious smile. In a way, I suppose your words to me were a bit Gettysburgy after all.
Couple of post scrips here: I’m getting DDL as Lincoln tattooed over some unsightly old lady spots on my leg. So that’s awesome.
Second, I get to see my good friend Mike today. He also happens to be the best damn tattoo artist in the whole damn world.
Third, Peach Treats always has a booth at Convention. I see new earrings in my future.
*Sorry Amy Shumer. I honestly have no idea why I woke up hating you. I’m sure I’ll get over it.