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Jan 20, 2004


Estwing Nylon-Vinyl Grip Framing Hammer
Photo: estwing.com

Back in 1997-1999, I wrote a few short pieces for the Independent Weekly -- first for their "Notes from the Single Life" column (which they used to run alongside the Personal Ads), and later for "Front Porch." Writing for the Indy was a lot of fun and it's only a shame that I didn't try to do more. But I had other things on my mind, so I moved on and hardly did any "creative" writing for years until the Archer Pelican came to life last month. In today's weblog, I'm self-publishing a true story that I submitted for "Notes...", which I was told would run but never actually did. It's been waiting five years to see light of day -- thank you, Typepad.

On the Interpretation of Dreams

Back in 1993, I lived in Chicago for a few months, and it was very cold. But one consolation was that I got to visit with my long-lost friend Paula, who had moved there from our home state of North Carolina. One week, we made plans for dinner and met up at her apartment where I was briefly introduced to her boyfriend, James. James was a handsome but surly fellow who didn’t say much. They kissed goodbye, and Paula and I drove off to dinner.

While we were eating, Paula told me about a recent dream in which she and James had been sitting at home with an important but unidentified other woman. “It was an odd triangle,” Paula said, “I couldn't tell what her relationship was to me…were we friends, or lovers, or what? But I knew that she and James were intensely connected... I’m not sure what to think.”

“Did you mind that she was there?” I asked.

“No,” she said, so I continued with an interpretation:

“I don’t think you’re looking for a ménage a trois, and I don’t think you’re interested in ‘sharing’ your boyfriend. I think you’re looking for another woman to start dating James so that you don’t have to. That’s why she’s important, and that’s why you approve of her presence.”

“Ummmm, no." she replied after a pause. "I don’t think that’s it.”

“Well, we’ll see,” I said. And then we talked about other things.

Soon after that dinner, I moved back to North Carolina and didn’t see Paula again until 1997, when she returned to Chapel Hill with her new partner Carl. She called one morning to ask if I’d help them frame a little cabin they were building in Chatham County, so I grabbed a hammer and drove out to lend a hand.

We worked through the afternoon, talking little. But after one long stretch, Paula paused from her hammering and said, “You know, Phil, I never did thank you for helping me break up with James.”

Slowly, I recalled our long-past conversation. “Ahh…,” I said, “So my dream interpretation was correct, and another woman did come along to take him off your hands?”

“Umm, no,” she replied, “What happened was that James was such a jealous ass about us going out to dinner, I finally saw what a jerk he was and broke up with him.”

“Oh,” I said, “Well, that’s good, too. Hand me that box of nails, would you?”

10:18 PM in Stories | Permalink


damn, nice hammer.

Posted by: lisa | Jan 21, 2004 12:29:43 AM

that's my kind of story, phil! hammers, relationships... what kind of shoes was paula wearing at dinner?

Posted by: christa | Jan 21, 2004 10:45:59 AM

Christa: Most likely, Paula was wearing leather work boots.

Lisa: "Stop. Hammer time!"

Posted by: Phil | Jan 21, 2004 10:57:26 AM

oh my god, you did not invoke "hammer time".

Posted by: lisa linn | Jan 21, 2004 1:44:51 PM

Lisa: I wish I could retort, "hey, you started it!" but really you didn't. I can only blame myself. Or maybe MC Hammer. Or maybe Rick James, for the background track. But I will *not* blame Sugar Hill.

Posted by: Phil | Jan 21, 2004 4:08:30 PM

no, really, neither rick james nor sugar hill can be blamed for *that*.

Posted by: lisa | Jan 21, 2004 4:26:57 PM

what a darling story! now, i'm wondering what you can tell me about the dream i had last night. i dreamt that my now deceased grandmother was alive and kicking and about to marry her fourth husband. he was some sort of tycoon. my grandmother had lost lots of weight and had a closet full of clothes that i envied. the really bizarre thing was that she was holding my kitties captive in her apartment and wouldn't let me have them. the whole dream revolved around me trying to sneak into her apt. to get my kitties back. while inside the apt. i admired her clothes and stuffed several things into a grocery bag. each attempt at rescuing my cats was thwarted.

any ideas?

Posted by: joy | Jan 21, 2004 7:02:51 PM

my interpretation, joy, is that you should go shopping! :-)

aaah, i'm so one-dimensional sometimes...

Posted by: christa | Jan 22, 2004 4:52:30 AM

Joy: Oh dear, I was hoping things would stay secret longer. But I guess not, so now we’ll have to tell you everything. Four thousand and four year ago, residents of the planet Ty890*2 detected that their home planet’s core was unstable, and that it would eventually explode, killing all of its inhabitants. Earth was the only planet they could move to. Not being the jerky-sort, the Ty8-tians didn’t want to just kill the humanoids, but instead figured out a way to meld and interbreed with us, to create a new race that would prosper for the next megallenia. Your kitties are familiars who live in a symbiotic relationship with the hybrid race of Ty8-rthlings. Your grandmother and her fourth husband are part of the special class of guides bred to help ease the interplanetary cultural when earth denizens realize which way things are going to go. Your dreams mean that your own Ty8tian genes are now beginning to express themselves, and that you will soon be invited to wear the unifom (the new clothes). You and your kitties will need to be separated for just a few pari-weeks while they complete their training, but don’t worry, you’ll be reunited with them just as soon as we establish your linking-post. Stay tune for further directions. Paris and Nicole will let you know. Gr0zjo Aznioard5 (“Peace and stability through accelerated evolution.”)

Posted by: Phil | Jan 25, 2004 9:41:59 PM

and to think, i just thought it was some sort of anxiety dream. sheesh!

Posted by: joy | Jan 27, 2004 12:22:07 PM