Monday, May 12, 2008

Too Cold For Reptiles

In the dream, I am the most polite of all the soldiers. When someone extends a hand to help me onto a rough stone bridge crossing a stream, I say thank you, even though we're supposed to be sneaking up on the enemy. When someone else looks down into the clear water, obviously fearful of crocodiles, I say, Hey there, pal. Don't worry - this water is way too cold for reptiles.

The real point of the dream was this. At one point in it, I observed a bullet strike a young man's helmet which he then removed to admire the dent. And I literally begged the dream (which is not exactly the dreamer) that this young fellow not now be struck in the head with a new bullet. It's already been done in Saving Private Ryan, I said, and it was kind of a Reader's Digest moment then, too.

No - that's not the point of the dream. The point of it was that when I woke up a lot more time had passed than I expected. It was morning already! And I thought to myself, you can have certain theories about loneliness but in the end, if there's a warm body nearby, you tend to gravitate towards it.

I guess what I mean to say - what these twenty sentences hope to land - is that family history lends itself to many theories, some of which are at odds with one another. Each of us has a different idea, for example, of what you were thinking when you went out in the woods that morning. The summer I was eighteen, my mother went around telling people that the average age of the soldiers in Vietnam had been nineteen. It was the title of a song, I think. She said it so much that I began to feel ashamed that I wasn't gearing up for battle instead of mowing lawns, fooling around with my girlfriend, and getting ready to leave for college.

You can't please everyone but you can create a lot of problems for yourself - now and in the future - by trying. The other thing about the dream was there were lots of games - basketball, baseball, twenty-one. And yes, war.

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