i was attending an event with (my brother-in-law) Jason and a group of others (seeming to include my family, though none ever appeared in the dream). the highlight of the event would be a concert by Heart. Jason and i were in the lobby of our hotel, near the elevators. we were talking as we made our way toward our rooms. Jason asked me if i’d been awakened by the huge black snake. when it was clear i had no idea what he was talking about, he explained that he’d been awakened himself by a thrashing sound emanating from behind the wall of his suite’s bathroom. investigating, he decided it was probably something in the plumbing and, following the noise, finally caught a glimpse of a huge black snake (he estimated about 100 lbs) passing through the sewage pipe connection at the base of the toilet. as Jason was describing this to me, it was as though i could see everything happening, through his eyes. he thought it might be stuck or something, and didn’t think he could catch or kill it, but he thought he might be able to make it move on, so he prodded it with something long, through the toilet. i think he was successful in getting it to move along through the pipe. then i was back in my own body and, considering the described events, decided it wasn’t too unusual that i hadn’t heard anything, as this had all taken place a fair distance from my suite, and i’m a heavy sleeper.
there was a related, pre-concert event taking place in the hotel. there were a bunch of small, round, black tables set up with chairs (black wrought-iron with filigreed backs), each containing a pad of paper, on which the people present could plan their wardrobe. standing alone at one of the tables, i began putting pencil to paper, and it seemed to function magically: you could write what you wanted to wear, and you were wearing it. discovering this, it seemed like i no longer needed to write, only to touch the tip of the pencil to paper while thinking of my choice, and whatever clothing i imagined would instantly appear on my body. at this point i realized i was wearing a shirt, but no pants- which briefly made me (very mildly) self-conscious. i was aware that there were a few others huddled in pairs or small groups at other tables, working with their own pads (most of them women, incidentally, and seeming to enjoy this whole process), and quickly concluded that, standing close to my own table, it was unlikely anyone would notice my temporary lack of pants. there were choices supplied on the paper, and i chose something resembling burgundy painter’s pants, briefly surveying their hem at my sneakers, but as soon as i saw them i instantly wondered why i’d deviate from my perfectly acceptable “standard uniform”, and again touched pencil to paper, avoiding any supplied choices, switching to a pair of Levi’s. satisfied, i turned my attention to my surroundings.
the large room resembled nothing so much as a bistro, sans brightly-colored tablecloths. there was an area separated from the rest by a knee-high wrought iron fence, behind which Heart was finishing the last song of a short showcase set. it didn’t seem strange to me that i hadn’t heard music or noticed them as i mulled over clothing choices. i wandered a bit closer to the band, choosing a table to lean against. the song ended, and it seemed to me that the material they were presenting at this showcase was unfamiliar. there was a smattering of appreciative applause from the few people present...it was all very relaxed and low-key. Ann Wilson put her microphone back in the stand and, to my surprise, caught my eye, approaching me casually. she was friendly despite not seeming to know me. as we talked about nothing in particular, Nancy Wilson approached me unseen and hugged me tightly from behind, completely surprising me. she seemed as though she knew me well and was quite happy to see me, which also didn’t seem strange to me. i crossed my arms over hers (at my chest) and sort of bent over at the waist, pulling her off her feet and onto my back, and sort of bounced her gently up and down a bit as we exchanged some words.
then were were walking outside, kind of wandering around the area nearby but apart from the venue, and i realized we were in eastern Washington, a place resembling the Gorge, but different. i sat down on a hill overlooking the river. Nancy parked herself on the hill to my left. as she started to lean back on her hands, her right hand nearly landed on my sneakered foot, but i moved it quickly, apologizing (unnecessarily) for being in her way. i wanted to be sure she didn’t think i was crowding her, but she was unconcerned. this brief moment was the only point at which i felt remotely self-conscious; throughout our exchanges, the Wilson sisters were very relaxed and casual.
across the river on the far bank were some buildings, most of which were separated from the water by tall chain link fences. our side of the river was all open land, but the far side brought to mind a smallish, old waterfront town. one large, old, Colonial-style house sat on the opposite side of those chain link fences, enjoying access to the river denied the nearby buildings. Nancy explained that the place was privately owned, and had been there a long time. she said it would retain its privileged position as long as the ownership didn’t change hands, and it seemed to me the (unknown, unseen) owners wouldn’t do that lightly. as i was commenting that it was a fantastic spot to see concerts at this venue (incongruously as, from my vantage point, the actual venue was nowhere to be seen), Ann joined us, sitting down on the hill on Nancy’s other side.
my gaze moved to our side of the river, along the steep, undeveloped hills of the river gorge. the area closest to us differed from most of the topography of the area, being mostly covered in light-colored sand, and the top of the ridge held a dense line of thick pine trees. as i was looking at the trees they suddenly dropped, en masse, a large part of their needles, a green wave that roiled and rained down to the sand, kicking up a huge cloud of dust and rolling down the hill. the whole thing moved in slow motion, and as it settled i noticed figures appearing throughout the mass, tiny little people being tumbled along in the wave, eventually poking their heads out and shaking themselves off, as the mass came to a stop. they didn’t seem to mind at all.
i indicated my astonishment at the whole scene, but the Wilson sisters seemed to take it all in stride. i commented that i figured i must not be used to seeing pine trees, explaining that i’d grown up on the east coast, where they’re not as prevalent as hardwoods (which brought to mind a brief image of using fine hardwood to build guitars). i knew this explanation was overly simplistic, but it seemed sufficient to make the point that this area and phenomenon was completely foreign to me. as i finished talking, the trees repeated their needle-dropping wave, and we all watched it play out, again in slow-motion, right down to noticing the tiny little people tumbling and emerging at the end. as all came to rest once more, Ann commented that this motion was where the term “crash and burn” came from, and though i’d never known this, i knew instantly that she was right. i joked that, considering the overall motion, and the way the tiny people seemed to get pounded at the end of the ride, maybe the term should have been “burn and crash”. all three of us immediately “got” the unintended pun and laughed: “burning” (some marijuana) and “crashing” (falling asleep). Nancy vocalized what we were all thinking.
as we sat on the hillside, it grew dark. random geometric patterns of yellow concert lighting played across the far bank of the river, moving across the land and buildings and on the low clouds (the first indication that the aforementioned concert venue was actually present here in some form).
then it was day, and i was standing on a concrete patio, by a railing. Heart was working out their set list, deciding what to play at their show. i was kind of just hanging out, not really involved, and not really paying much attention. someone broached the subject of my playing a song with them during their encore, and Nancy approached me, asking me if i played music (which, incidentally, indicates that although others had known she’d been unaware). i answered, simultaneously proud of the work involved and aware of how unremarkable the experience actually is, that i’ve played for 26 years, more than 10 of them in groups. the group floated different ideas of songs on which i could join them on the encore, and while the idea sounded fun (and i pictured myself onstage doing it), and though i felt confident i could fake my way through some of their more well-known material, i wasn’t really eager to join them onstage. i was flattered to be asked, and i would have loved to join them, but i considered being included an unnecessary friendly gesture, and felt i’d detract from their performance unless i knew the material better.
the scene changed again, and i was looking for a good place to settle in and watch Heart, who were now onstage performing the actual concert. it was a bright, sunny day, and the outdoor venue was immense, big enough to walk in freely despite a huge crowd. the ground was flat, and there were no chairs. people were variously standing and watching the show or walking around, many of them carrying clear plastic cups of beer. i found a spot i liked, the plywood sound gear platform in the middle, where i could sit on the edge. there were some other people sitting there already, back from the edge a ways, and i sat down somewhat tentatively, not sure if i’d be blocking their view, prepared to move if anyone complained. no one did.
as i turned my attention to the show, i occasionally felt something bumping lightly against the top of my head. it seemed strange, and i hardly noticed at first, but it became more persistent. i finally looked up to see a little bundle, consisting of (strangely) a cat and a little branch, both held in a ridiculously huge hand at the end of the outstretched arm of an enormous man off to my right. seemingly uninterested in the show, he was holding this little bundle over my head and bopping me with it, trying to annoy me. it worked. he continued to hold his bundle over my head (though he’d stopped bopping me with it) and made no effort to conceal what he’d done, appearing to want me to confront him about it, and i did- which appeared to gratify him somewhat. he made some rude comments to me, including something about my inability to stop him from doing whatever he wanted to me, basically daring me to do something about it. he was right about that; i had no illusions that i could physically force this guy to stop, and i considered just moving along, but i liked this spot, and i was angry. i took a step toward him, poking him hard in the chest and expressing my annoyance. this only amused him, and he verbally antagonized me some more, including making a rude comment about how difficult it must be for me to satisfy women with so small a penis. our exchange continued for a short time, until i concluded the jerk posed no real threat. as he was most interested in annoying me, i began ignoring him and turned my attention back to the show.
immediately i skipped forward to some point after the show. i was walking along with (a previously unseen, imaginary, male) friend, recounting my experiences at this event. many others seemed to be making their way along the sidewalks toward their cars or hotels, etc., and we walked along talking, passing shops and various things. i bummed my friend a cigarette and lit it for him. he stopped and talked for a moment to a guy in an overcoat leaning up against a chain link fence, and we continued on our way. looking down the side streets, i saw a canal, and realized that if we’d come to water, we’d passed our turn-off. alerting my friend to this, i headed down the side street, crossing the canal to backtrack the short distance to the hotel.
it was at this point that my neighbor’s fully annoying, perennially ignored, ceaselessly barking dog woke me up.
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