In one dream last night, I was in a movie theater with Sydney. While the movie was playing, I remember being more focused on the stuff that kept falling out of my coat pocket than I was on the movie, and each time I retrieved my stuff off the floor there was more and more movie garbage mixed with it. Nothing gross, just like peanuts or M&Ms or popcorn that I had separate from my keys or phone or whatever.

There was an intermission about halfway through the movie and Sydney just wanted to nap while it was happening, so the conversation we had was mostly one-sided. The theater was older and not well kept, and when the lights were on you could see how worn the maroon velvet seats were.

There was a party of younger girls behind us. Or maybe it wasn’t a party and they just always wore princess dresses like that; I’ve seen it happen. There were 6 or 7 of them altogether.

One of them in a pink and white dress and with brown, curly hair would walk up to me periodically, tap me on the shoulder, and when I turned to see what she wanted, she’d say something like, “You don’t live up to your potential,” or, “You are really not very successful,” and she’d run away to her friends and they’d huddle up and giggle together, hands over mouths. It wasn’t exactly pleasant but it was more of a small environmental annoyance than something that actually hurt my feelings.

Sydney got up to walk by them for something. The girl who had kept coming up to me was messing around with her friends, and she threw a metal garbage can toward them. It didn’t make it over Sydney and hit her in the head. I saw the whole thing, it didn’t look intentional, just a wrong place/wrong time kind of thing, but when someone hurts your kid it still makes you mad even if it’s an accident.

I paused for a moment to see if Sydney was OK because really, how hard could this little girl toss a big metal bin? Sydney was crumpled on the ground, and when she reached up to her head and started crying, I went into Hulk mode. I was instantly filled with an overwhelming desire to find the adults who were supposed to be with those kids and, I don’t know, yell a lot or something.

Right as I was about to stand up, a small boy, probably also 8 or 9, tapped my shoulder, and when I turned to see what he wanted, he shot me in the mouth with a rubber band gun from like a foot away. It stung some, and before he could run away laughing with the other boys he was with, my hand shot out and grabbed the rubber band gun’s barrel and he froze in place, not letting go of it. I was beyond angry, and as I slowly rose and straightened out to my full height, I said very quietly, “Where. Is. The. Adult. You’re. With.” I completely forgot about Sydney laying on the ground crying and didn’t see her again in the dream.

The kid looked a little shy but not terribly concerned, and he calmly guided me out of the theater and across the hall to a dingy arcade, talking quietly the entire time. The space was half empty and some of the lights were out, and there were only a few people in there; like the theater, it had likely seen better days. The boy was quietly and elaborately describing the adult we were looking for, “and there’s a dog tattoo here and he has a gold chain that’s this big” and on and on.

We stopped by a game where two people were standing and playing, and there were two really big guys there, and the kid said, “There he is.”

Like, seriously big. Not ripped, Jason Momoa big, more like Hollywood biker-gang guy big, and the smaller of them was 6’4” or 6’5”. The two men both had on different sports team tank tops and expensive looking hightops, and were each covered with crude tattoos and blingy jewelry. The larger man had the dog tattoo the boy described on his bare left shoulder; the smaller one had a navy blue bandana tied over his cleanly shaven head, and the taller one had a navy snapback on, not quite perfectly centered.

They both turned toward me with unreadable expressions and looked me over, standing there as I was with their boy in front of me and his gun in my hand. I suddenly felt like I was about 2 feet tall. Like there was literally a dramatic Malcolm-in-the-Middle camera zoom back so it looked like they were instantly 20 feet tall.

I paused for a moment, but I was still pretty pissed off and I decided I’d still speak my mind. I was a little daunted, but mostly I didn’t give a damn how big they were.

I took a deep breath and started to say, “Listen, my brothers, this young man just shot me in the mouth with this rubber band gun. Is that kind of behavior OK with you?” I felt the warm molasses rush of adrenaline as time slowed and I watched for any of a thousand tiny warnings that a fight might be starting. I didn’t care; if it didn’t happen that was fine, and if it did, I was ready.

But it took a moment to recognize (since time had slowed) that what was actually coming out of my mouth was like “LUUURRRRRRRR MMMUURRRRRR” It sounded like Young Frankenstein singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” but not nearly as loud. My spirit was willing but my mouth was weak, or something.

The large men standing over me had puzzled expressions on their faces just before I woke up. Back here in real life, I was still trying so intently to make words come out of my mouth hole that I was kind of balled up into a sit-up and mostly lifted off the bed. I had rolled up every blanket I could reach into one big bundle that I was hugging like a medicine ball, and I was half-yelling “MMMMURRRRRR” right into the blanket ball through lips once again half-glued to my gums with sleep goo.

I froze, stopped vocalizing, laid back down, and rolled the blanket-ball off me. I cautiously opened my eyes, half fearing that it would be bright and sunny, but it was still pitch black.

It seemed like a good time to get up and get some water, so I did.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving.