Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Strange dreams.  §

I felt hopelessly tired in the middle of the day. I don’t know why. And so I laid down for a bit, and then—before you know it—I fell deeply asleep. Not only that, but I had a dream, which is rare. (It is, at least, very rare that I ever remember having dreamt, much less what any dream might have included.)

— § —

In the dream, I’d taken the kids for lunch to the Sconecutter drive-through (almost a surreal dream in and of itself, if we stopped there), but couldn’t order because in fact the area next to the menu sign was blocked by someone in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume on a skateboard. I got out to speak with them assuming them to be a kid but was promptly grabbed and held with a switchblade knife at my neck and no particular demands. Luckily I wrestled my way out of it and beat the turtle (such as it was) fairly hard, then climbed back into the car, brushing off my hands.

By the time I’d seat-belted myself in, I saw that this “turtle” had in the meantime seized another person—a kid on a skateboard—and now held them the same way, so I quickly hopped back out, got into it with the turtle, and rescued the kid, this time giving the “turtle” an even more substantial beating. And calling the police, who came and picked him up.

Well, after that we ordered our food and began to make our way by car to the house of a white-haired old uncle (who did in fact exist in real life but is long dead now) who had spent years as a cowboy and was now lonely and in need of visits from family and friends. We were to call on and have desert at his house in the afternoon.

On the way, I got a call from the police, explaining that the suspect I’d helped them to arrest was a 43-year-old man who came to the area where we’d tussled every day in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle garb to ride on his skateboard and harass the locals. Only this time, thanks to my help, they’d be able to get him on weapons and assault charges. In his possession when arrested were a 9-inch stiletto switchblade, a long centimeter-wide sword embedded in a cane, a simple but razor-sharp dagger, and a fold-away scythe with a 43-inch curve blade, all tucked into his costume.

I felt a deep sorrow and compassion for the man for some reason. But the case was, of course, also remarkable and chilling, so when we arrived at uncle’s house, I shared the story. We had much discussion of youth and youth culture and also of 43-year-old men who ought to know better, and of mental illness and personality disorders and our ability as a society to cope with them.

Then, just as I was about to excuse us for the evening, he mentioned in passing that he was on his way to Europe shortly. “Oh, wonderful!” I said, “Vacation?”

“Oh no,” he repied, “I work for the European Union. I’ve got to attend to some on-site tasks at headquarters!”

“Not a Brussels-styled technocrat in addition to a cowboy?! I had no idea!” I said in disbelief.

“Well, of course!” he responded and detailed how in fact he’d flown out at least once a month for years and operated as a commissioner of some sort with a heavy responsibilities, doing a lot of calculations, providing judgments about their meanings, and also participating in Very Serious Deliberative Gatherings from time to time.

We then had a little bit of merriment at our newfound understandings of each other—him of my valor against warlike turtles, mine of his latent technocracy—during which he told me that he didn’t drink but had always enjoyed and been just as intoxicated by sweets—and thus enjoyed his trips to Brussels all the more.

Then there was some dancing around the table on his part for some reason, much giggling on his part as well, and also much time during which he sat at the corner of the table, half in shadow, eating Turkish Delight and getting sugar all over his vest and mustache while begging me not to go yet and offering me sweets, which I declined each time.

Eventually I said that I really had to go, as it was after 9:00 pm, far too late for the kids to be out, and that I’d originally intended to leave by 6:00. I rounded them up from the other room where they were playing happily and, on the way out the front door, asked:

“Popular sovereignty or not?”

“Oh of course not!” he said, making a sour face, and he laughed good-naturedly.

“Well, as a sociologist, you know I have to be on the other side!” I said, laughing myself, and he began to laugh again too.

On that congenial note, we exited his apartment, closed his front door behind us, and the kids and I took the fire stairway down from his floor (setting off the fire alarm for a moment when we entered it), hopping two stairs at a time, hand-in-hand. We blasted out the front door of the building (where several large dolls sat in the foyer strapped to Native American style baby-boards) and hopped into our car, which was parked just out front.

And off we went in good spirits.

— § —

I have no idea what this dream means, or why I should have had it between approximately noon and 2:00 pm on a Saturday in June in the middle of the darkest period of my life.

But there it is, for all posterity.