I’ve confirmed that a new generation of angst dreams have started. My family’s in them now, but I don’t know why it should change now as they’ve never been in them before. They still don’t cause the angst for the most part, just typical “But that’s not what I want to eat” type stuff. I’ll probably figure out something.

The one last night was in two parts. The first part, I was in a foreign country where they spoke English but mostly chose not to, something European. (I just had a conversation with my friend Jon Price who described some of his trip to Czechoslovakia like that, so that may be the tie-in. Or my own experiences in Denmark, but people there have been kind to me so not necessarily.)

The first part was me in a big, informal music store with a lot of keyboard instruments, like old Wurlizter electronic pianos. I saw one that was priced nicely and started to walk towards it. In typical Trader Joe’s fashion, two men pushed a shopping cart directly in front of it when they spotted me walking towards it and started a conversation with their back to me. I walked around it and started to play the Wurly they were in front of, and they both shouted, “Do you mind?” at me. I smiled and said, “No, not at all.” Eventually we all shared our interest in the vintage keyboard instrument, but at first, it was like shopping at Trader Joe’s, something that I equate with untranquilized neutering. Similar experiences in foreign music store, end of story.

The next phase of the dream was a little more baroque. I somehow arrived at a “family style” restaurant. (All you can eat, buffet style. Because that’s how families eat. Somewhere.) I was with my wife and kid and a couple friends with kids. The place looked like Sam’s Hof Brau in Portland, Oregon, but 18 times bigger. Dark, almost dingy, wood and quasi-German decorations everywhere. Active.

So the first angsty thing that happened was I agreed to “watch the stuff” while the first round of people got food. Because purse snatchers are known to frequent family restaurants or something, it’s just one of those things. That took like 7 hours, or so it seemed. (Just like in real life.) People had screaming kids and loud cell phone conversations right next to me and stupid Jerry Springer arguments in line and occasionally tried to strike up a conversation with me, it was as fun as it sounds. Eventually they came back, and I got to go look for my own food.

First of all, it was the densest place I’ve ever eaten in, people everywhere. Since we’ve already paid and have been seated, I somehow get pushed to the front to where the food is. It’s really odd food. It’s like the all-you-can-eat buffet your family makes you eat at, but with 10% of the normal selection. For example, there was a cheese table, supervised by an old woman I’ve seen in real life selling newspaper subscriptions in New Mexico supermarkets. The idea is interesting, but in this case, there appeared to be 15 or 20 kinds of cheddar cheese. And maybe 5 or 10 white cheeses. Round. (Because they’re white, I guess. The cheddar wasn’t round.)

Anyway, similar Trader Joe’s experiences. A food station would be empty, so I’d walk toward it. People would notice me walking toward it and freak out and elbow me out of the way so they could descend like hyenas and pluck the zebra corpse (a/k/a cheddar) clean. Just to get in front of me or get there first, and for no other reason, like actually wanting what was being offered, just to stop someone else from getting there when they wanted to. (Just like Trader Joe’s.) Occasionally I’d get something on my plate. Some old woman struck up a conversation with me in front of iron skillets of mysterious frying patties, and she said, ‘Oh, that’s Misses Tequila Chicken – you’ve GOT to have that!’ (Can’t remember the exact name, but I think it was Missus.) I picked one of the mysterious, sizzling and symmetrical nuggets out of the oil with the intention of trying it. I heard someone complain about the cheese pizza, and I thought that might be a lead. I meandered to the pizza bar, and sure enough, there was some pizza there. It was cut in a funny way; it was like someone cut the crust off and managed to catch a little topping while they did it, and that’s all there was. No delicious interior slices, just crust plus a little topping.

It was better than most of what I’d seen, so I grabbed some.

Blah, blah, blah. Other things happened and it got fuzzy. My family didn’t cause the angst, but they were there, and that was new. It’ll be interesting to see where this leads, I have a feeling this is the beginning of a new series.

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