What’s all this, then?
Am I asleep?
How can it be neither?
Easy: You know that kind of asleep kind of awake feeling that you sometimes get, where the television is on but you don’t really recognize the show (it’s Colbert but your brain won’t wrap itself around that) and you’re still sort of sitting up, and your Kindle is still sort of on your lap and Slate magazine is still sort of available to be read and you’re still sort of annoyed by the article you read about how 50-year-olds are the only people who remember what 33 LPs sound like?
Is this that?
Is that this?
Let’s inventory: lights on? Lights off?
Or my eyes are closed.
So that’s a wash. I could try to open my eyes and see if the lights are on but my eyes were closed, but what if I open my eyes and it’s still dark? That might prove that the lights were off and my eyes were closed, but it might just mean that I dreamt that my eyes were closed and dreamt that they were then opened, and then dreamt, for good measure, that the lights were off. So it’s entirely possible that I am sleeping, and dreaming about whether I am sleeping or awake, and that in my dream I would open my eyes to see the lights off, at which point I would be no better or worse off than I was at the start.
Unless, and bear with me here, unless I am almost about to fall asleep and if I open my eyes I’ll be back awake and will feel like I should go back to work on that arduous article about the debt ceiling talks, which somehow managed to be so tedious it made me feel more awake.
Let’s start from square one.
I wonder how long that has been an expression?
It must have started around the time that board games became popular, right? That’s the only place people start from square one.
Except comic strips, man! You always start from square one in comic strips, which were a big thing, weren’t they? Popeye was a comic strip back in the turn of the century.
Wow, that sort of snuck in there out of left field. Popeye? That’s where we’re going with this?
OK. So: back to the basics. Eyes: seem definitely closed.
Hands: seem to be holding the Kindle.
Television is definitely on. I’m definitely not dreaming that because who would dream commercials? Especially commercials for Christmas albums starring… oh, crap: Christmas albums starring Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass! Which almost certainly is not on the television now as it’s only October and it’s NOT 1962 so nobody is advertising Herb Alpert which means you are definitely asleep, fella, definitely not awake anymore, which means that you are dreaming that you are trying to figure out if you are awake or asleep, which honestly is a waste of a good dream, if you ask me. Maybe we ought to spice it up.
Or space? Astronauts?
A birthday party outside in the yard for the twins, with a bounce castle?
Who are you kidding? It’s going to be that girl from Starbucks, right?
What did she look like?
That seems unlikely. Or did she have red hair?
Does it matter?
It seems like it matters.
I mean, if you’re going to try to add her to your dream… remember that thing you read where you could lucid dream by imagining yourself spinning counterclockwise as you fell asleep? Remember that? That was years and years ago, and you haven’t tried it since. Or is this a lucid dream?
Did she have red hair?
Was that the television?
I don’t think she had red hair.
Spin like a top.
Is that my hand?
What’s all this, then?