My Celebrity Dreams
M. V. Montgomery
I was in Iraq with Dick Cheney on a press junket. We were standing in the middle of a field where a log was a hanging by a thin band to a tree. Cheney went over and kicked it off, a photo op intended to symbolize that the country was under control. I retrieved the log, took it back to the U.S. in the plane. Then wrapped it and brought it to Al Franken, whose Minnesota campaign office was in rear of a gift shop.
I dreamed that my daughter, Ellen Page, couldn’t speak to her teacher on first day of school even though she had carefully rehearsed what to say and had been assigned to write a letter of introduction. Frustrated, I pinched her cheeks to get her to talk, then awoke instantly, ashamed. Same dream the next night and the next, this time Ellen Page morphing into a Chinese exchange student. Next week at the university, I stood up for ESL students who had been getting no support.
Tom Brady came by to visit w/family and seemed relieved for a break from the limelight. Said he would become free @1:00 after Super Bowl to join my friends in game of cards—“Hearts with Sticks and Grains in it.”
Visited Alfred Hitchcock in a retirement home. He was interested in hearing about the film course I taught, wanted a for-instance of how I approached style. I pulled out a pen light and illustrated different lighting techniques. He indulged me in this, though he didn’t consider lighting the province of the director—rather, in his mind, only an adjunct technical feature.
I was in church: Barak Obama was my pastor.
I was a cast member of Saturday Night Live and brought my new blonde companion to read her earnest poem on air. It got mixed reviews. I tried to defend her to the rest of the cast, comparing her to Victoria Jackson and saying it wasn’t always necessary to go directly for laughs. Then again, I had to wonder if that was really helping the case of someone whose poems had not been intentionally ironic, or simply exposing her to further ridicule. After the performance I waited for Victoria in the limo. Either she had gotten lost en route to the lot, or pulled away with someone else.
Alfred Hitchcock was showing my class a Werner Herzog film while a small alligator ran about under our feet. Nothing to worry about, just watch the toes. A good way to discourage the wearing of sandals. The film ended quite unusually for Herzog with removal of fourth wall and the conquistadors looking straight into the camera: It’s not us, you’re the reality. And the breakdown of civilization and decay of law back into nature are images of your world.
I was Charles Foster Kane. In my bedroom I had Asian art, including a live woman sitting in silent tableau who represented the spirit of poetry. She had overheard that today was a holiday promoting the arts and had broken her silence, coming down from her position on the wall. I was astounded that she was a living woman, and a beautiful one at that, but waved her onward to do as she wished. Later, I came across her at an airline desk, desperately trying to catch a flight back to China with no money.
I reflected: here was a woman who had been witness to my private life, who had watched over me for every night for years as I slept. There followed a melodramatic conversation: It’s not your services I require any longer: I want you to be my wife. I (or rather Charles, the perspective shifted to 3rd person) began to babble in Chinese and a pact was sealed.
Flashforward to ten years later, a child in tow. A stop-off in the Kane library where a book binder was botching the covering of an old book. Reprimanded, he responded by pretending to be engaged in a highly technical art and offered to involve Kane, who was all too easily duped by falsely collegial tactics. Then Kane tromping back to rejoin his wife and daughter. Two incongruous dogs in tow, a large wolfhound and a chihuahua.
A film somewhat like Rashomon, also by a Japanese director, albeit with “superior film grammar,” according to my professor, who resembled Richard Dreyfuss, and who excitedly told me he had written an early paper on it as I dashed around the film hall (outside) after the screening with him.
The plot concerned the kidnapping and death of a precious pet bird, reputed to be buried on the estate by a nobleman, who callously recounts what he has done. After all, it's only a bird: so he is not punished and walks away contemptuous at the end. What detectives have done, to actually exhume the animal, ends up looking ridiculous. As in The Maltese Falcon, it turns out to be a fake. Some ambiguity re whether we are referring to a bird or a person throughout, so revered was the royal pet.
Two similar Seinfeld-related dreams. The Seinfeld connection served to put me into a large city and instantly define a background group of friends. The first: George gets lost en route to rejoining group. Has to negotiate series of tunnels and slides leading from apartment to entertainment venue. Is not fully dressed. In the middle of the city having to locate replacement shirt, pants, gloves, etc. The shirt is found immediately, filched from sample rack. The other articles have to be bartered for or garnered from lost & founds. Arrives wearing a ridiculous hodge-podge of clothing, only just on time.
The second: Elaine has tickets for a play and man is to meet her later. She has playfully written a message on his head, but the chemical has burned to the scalp and caused partial memory loss; the man, who looks like Michael Stipe, can’t remember the venue or read the top of his head. He ends up wandering through town, back to a campus dorm where he had once lived, sees his name (Michael) on an old housing list. Bumps into an old friend/girlfriend, still somewhat bitter but unaware of his condition. Along with her friends, they go out together.
At park, digging in a sandbox, the man is becoming more and more of a simpleton, but is happy to have found a group that seems willing to take care of him. Later, at an apartment, message in his hair is noticed and ex-girlfriend angrily shaves it. Down to the scalp, where the chemical burn becomes apparent. One friend there begins to sing song from alternative pop group. Michael begins to sing along, pitch perfect, and is recognized as the singer. "You mean I’m rich?" he asks. "You mean we could all be rich? Would you like to be rich too?" Still not fully remembering, yet excited he has done something right.
A party in So Cal at which Wayne Gretzky was a guest. We hung out together.
The Incredible Hulk was rampaging through the city, bearing down near my parent’s home, his yelling and growling a constant noise in the background. He was as large as a water tower, larger, and each dragged foot was enough to wipe out a city block. I myself was super-sized, and along with another superhero was punching and pushing at a sea of water, lifting and directing the waves at Hulk, trying to bury him in the tide. The curling water wasn’t quite high enough, but made him sufficiently angry to growl and head our way, so we lured him away from the populated area. I then abandoned my partner and returned home.
There, the power was out; I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and tried to find my toothbrush in a pile near the sink. The growling could still be heard in the distance. I prayed my partner could continue the deluge. The power clicked back on, and I suddenly saw my young brothers and sisters huddled around the stairs, looking shabby but relieved that the pogrom with its terrifying siren-like drone had passed over our house.
On site of a Hollywood scandal: a lake house murder. Actors gathered to reconstruct the characters and events. A naked Madonna, bathing in a tureen of tomato soup.
M. V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Marietta, Georgia. He teaches world literature, film, and humanities courses.