My wife tells me that she very often has dreams in which she is forced to diffuse bombs. My wife, of course, has no experience diffusing bombs and in her dreams this is no different. What she knows about bombs all comes from the movies — there are wires of various colors and they must be clipped in a careful and exact order to render the bomb inert.
On mornings after having this dream, my wife is understandably tense. She is also often irritated with me. Not sharing my wife’s specific dreams, I myself am never present at the bomb diffusion sites. I am evidently present during these dreams but of little help. In fact, I stand near my wife and constantly tell her to stop doing whatever she’s doing and wait for the authorities.
She told me that in this latest incarnation of the dream, I was wearing a basketball jersey, holding a basketball, and carrying tickets to an important game.
“Just give it up, Becky,” she tells me I said. “You can’t do this. You’re not trained and you’ll get us all killed.”
So Becky, the morning after the dream, complains to me for nagging her, especially in such a tense situation.
I apologize for my behavior in her dream, but I insist that my dream-self and my regular-self are not the same, in an attempt to distance myself from him.
“He doesn’t make sense anyway,” I say. “Why would I have an actual basketball if I’m only going to a game? Am I expecting to provide an extra ball if all of the official balls run out?”
“I don’t know,” Becky says. “You’re just not supportive.”
Despite his obnoxious persistence, I tell her that he makes some valid points.
“What do you mean by that?” she asks me.
“Well,” I say, “do you know anything about diffusing bombs?”
“In my dream, no. I have so many of these dreams, I feel like I’m learning more. In the dream last night, I was pretty confident I could’ve done it, if you would have just given me space. But regardless of all that, I do know stuff from movies and TV shows.”
I assure her that the way they diffuse bombs on TV and movies is not the way they do it in real life, though I realize I have no idea as to whether or not this is actually true.
She echoes the sentiment I am thinking but have not yet said. “What if the scenes on TV are totally accurate? Maybe they are the most accurate representations of things on TV and movies,” she suggests.
I can’t deny this logic, but I’m not sure what point it proves. Still, I worry about her. She has this dream all the time.
I ask her how often she’s had it lately.
She tells me it was probably the fifth time this year. We aren’t exactly deep into the year yet.
“Do you think there’s something wrong with me?” she asks earnestly.
I pause. This isn’t the most effective response.
She crosses her arms and refuses to look away from me.
I recover. “Maybe you should talk to somebody about the dream,” I say. “To see what it represents, all that.”
She arches her eyebrows. My response has not deflected her gaze like I hoped it would. “Like a therapist?” she asks, clearly agitated.
“No, I didn’t mean that,” I say, although that is exactly what I meant. “I was thinking more about your mom. Or Stacy.” I am fairly certain she has a friend named Stacy she has labeled a “good listener.”
She doesn’t believe me. “I don’t really think I’m ever going to encounter a bomb and need to diffuse it,” she says, as if my concern about her dream isn’t over the fact she’s had the same disturbing dream several times over the last few years, but that it might be prophetic.
“All right,” I say. I twist open the blinds in our room and the day slides inside, slicing the room with light.
This is a Saturday and neither Becky nor I have to work. She specializes in small loans at a bank, and I work as an assistant manager of a shoe store. We don’t get a lot of Saturdays together off, so we decide to take this day to go shopping for a new dining set at a large Scandinavian furniture store.
She spots a desk that she claims to truly and absolutely love. Her level of adoration for this desk seems a bit excessive to me, but she seems sincere and she damn near straddles the piece of furniture to prove her affection.
I am okay with the desk. I think it is pretty nice. I tell her this and she acts like I have ripped her very heart out of her body.
“I love this desk,” she says as families and children walk through the section we are standing in. “And you don’t give a fuck about the things I love.”
A woman quickly cups her child’s ears and they run into a different section of the store. I am wide-eyed and silent. I try to say something but am too mortified and embarrassed to actually speak. My efforts at speech become incoherent noise, sounding less like words and more like the sound a cat makes when it is picked up when it doesn’t want to be. Only my sound is deeper and more human-like and perhaps even a bit more desperate.
“I love this desk,” she says. “And you might not be able to say anything about it, but you never support me, whether it’s in my career, in starting a family, or diffusing a bomb. You never do anything to support me!”
I am taken aback, not just by the amount of accusations, but by how completely untrue they are. I find my voice. “I like the desk!” I start. “I think it’s very nice. Very nice! But we don’t need another desk. I guess I wasn’t as passionate about it as you were because I realize we don’t need one. I guess the fact I didn’t mount the desk in the middle of the store and start humping it tells you I didn’t like it. That isn’t true. I think it’s very nice!” My voice cracks and screeches out the last sentence more than I either expect or anticipate, and it ends up sounding less intimidating than I originally intend.
Two guys working at the store walk over to us and ask if everything is okay. I smile and say, “Yes. We just like this desk.” I put my hand on it, a gesture I intend to use in order to show my affection for the desk, but it ultimately only looks like I’m squashing a bug.
“Fine,” one of the guys says. “Just keep your voices down and watch the language.”
We agree and walk hastily into another part of the store. The store itself is separated into different fake rooms, each room showing off the styles and furniture available in the store. It almost looks like an actual person’s actual house if an actual person left all the price tags on the things he or she bought. We duck into a fake child’s bedroom and step into the fake closet.
“And I do support your career,” I say in an angry whisper. “And I want a family, more than anything.” I pause and look around the fake child’s room and get lost in the painting of a clown playing baseball and the headboard filled with children’s books. I see a copy of Roald Dahl’s BFG and assume it’s in Swedish. I look back at her. “Don’t you think I want a family? Don’t act like I’m the bad guy here. I want it as much as you do and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make you happy.”
She is tired all of a sudden and much quieter. “What about the bomb squad thing?” she asks.
And I push her against the walls of the small closet and I kiss her hard and directly on the mouth, moving my hands toward her waist and inside her shirt. I shut the real doors to the fake closet and I pull off her shirt and she unbuttons mine and we make love at the Scandinavian furniture store. We know embarrassment and ejection from the store wait on the other side of the cheap balsa wood doors. We don’t care about anything except the heat and anger of each others’ bodies.
We emerge from our closet, frazzled from the sex and the spontaneity of it. We sneak out carefully, cautious to not be spotted in our post-coital bliss, but are immediately struck by something in the store.
It is completely empty.
We race through ideas — were we in there for hours, until the store had closed? The lights are still on; it’s just empty of customers. And, as we look more closely, it is also empty of employees.
But I grab Becky’s wrist and twist it quickly to look at her watch. It is still the middle of the afternoon. We consider other ideas. (more…)
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