March 31, 2020

Wake Up, Obsessive Dreamer

By John F. Chisholm •

My wife informs me that I kept her awake last night.

I was dreaming.  I owed Paul Violet $28.57.  I have no doubt about that amount even though, to the very best of my memory, I’ve never met Paul.  Neither do I have any idea why I owed him anything.  With the variable focus of dreams, I can still see the checks I wrote but can’t make out his features.  People crowded around, jostling me as I wrote.  I couldn’t see where we were as a result.

This morning in bed, ribs bruised from the constant elbowing ― most of which I slept through ― I told Wendy all about it.  “I couldn’t make out a single check properly.  First I misspelled his name, Paul Violette.  (He insisted there was no ‘e’ at the end.)  I tore up that check before missing the amount on the next.  On the third, it was the date I tripped over.”  I groaned, remembering.  “How could I have written 2014?”

“What happened?” Wendy demanded, interested despite her lack of sleep.

“I kept screwing up.”

“No,” my wife corrected me.  “How’d it end?”

“I don’t know.  I was down to my last check and somebody woke me.”

Outrage echoed in my wife’s reply.  “You kept me awake all night and then made me listen to your dream without knowing the outcome?”

“Hey!  That’s your fault.  How am I supposed to figure out the end of a dream while waking?”

It was clear our discussion was headed downhill ― fast.  Amazingly, we had the wisdom to stop before diving over the edge.  That’s not what usually happens.

Instead we got up.  The cows were fed, the chickens watered and the dogs walked.  Breakfast came and went.  We emptied and refilled the dishwasher and completed a hundred other chores.  But amidst all that trivia, I couldn’t shake Paul Violet from my head.

That’s because I think I know the answer.  Well, part of it, anyway.

All writers obsess.  Is the right word in its proper place?  Are the ‘i’s dotted, the ‘t’s crossed and the periods pointedly parked?  Some writers do everything in completely contrary fashion.  They speak in dialects, orate in tongues.  That doesn’t matter.  They obsess just the same.  In fact style doesn’t impinge on this issue.  What you have to realize, everything is deliberate regardless.  Precisely deliberate.

I’m no different.

That’s the problem.  It’s gotten to the point where I dream about it.  Worse, I don’t know that I’ve ever written anything correctly despite all my efforts.

That’s because it’s not up to me to say.  The judges are the hes and shes with the hazy and indistinct faces behind the ‘they’ of poor writing fame.

At least that’s what they tell me.

It certainly is what they say.

It leaves me wondering though.  What about that dream?  Perhaps ‘They’ finally has a name.  That might help.  It’ll give me a place to start, anyway.

Alas!  There’s still a problem.

Is Violet spelled with one ‘t’ or two?