Golden Tax and (not) the Jimmy Castor Bunch

Stupid dogs hogged all the blankets so I woke up freezing today. But my semi-cryogenic state seemed to make for unhurried, detailed dreams. (That I’ve already mostly forgotten.)

In one of them I was in a mall with my friend Ray Taylor and we decided to try out the video game arcade next to where we were eating. Just for old times’ sake. We poked our head in and it looked OK, if a little dingy, but after we cleared our tables and packed our dad-bags with leftover water bottles and stuff we paid our buck and went in.

After we got in, it was a lot worse than it looked from the outside. A lot of stupid kid games where it’d take your picture or something and nothing else, like they have at Chuck E. Cheese, and a lot of knockoffs that had they had enclosure labels similar to popular games (from a long time ago, not 2013 type popular). But they had totally different and inferior play, like GOLDEN TAX instead of AXE and HAUNTLET instead of GAUNTLET, and you couldn’t see the weird letter or word until you started.

There was a small family in one corner dressed in church finery, suits and colorful Sunday dresses and hats, and they were trying to have a birthday party but there wasn’t really any place to sit or have one, so they had this bright FD&C Blue #7 Cookie Monster cake just sitting on top of the token machine and it was kind of sad. Dingy carpets, and bad, dim light like in an old diner, not cool/moody gallery lighting, slightly peeling veneer on the counter, dusty fake flowers in pots. Just kind of grim and not meticulously maintained.

I tried one unfamiliar video game on a whim, but after it started it turned out the “action” button was just missing so from the outset there was not way to accomplish much, but it was a really easy game so I had to just wander around aimlessly in the game and it took forever to finally die. In the dream, I wondered if it was supposed to be a metaphor for life and if the button was missing on purpose, and when I looked up, the title of the game was “Life.” I can’t swear that’s what it said when I first walked up to it, stuff changes around in dreams when you look away. I wondered if this video game was a better metaphor or the boardgame with the same name was, the one where everything that happens to you is determined by the spin of a wheel and where by the end of the game you inevitably end up with a car overfilled with pink and blue pegs representing all the children that happen to you along the way. (From wheel spins.)

There was terrible music playing, but it didn’t bother me because it seemed appropriate. Like elevator music they would have played at Montgomery Wards in the 70’s. The people who kept ending up next to me argued about it constantly. One guy kept going, “I think that’s the Jimmy Castor Bunch,” and the other guy would argue and go, “Fool, that’s not the Jimmy Castor Bunch. Why do you keep saying it’s the Jimmy Castor Bunch?” and the first guy would go, “Well, I like the Jimmy Castor Bunch,” and the other guy would say, “Well I do too, but what I like’s got nothing to do with what they’re playing.” It was always about the Jimmy Castor bunch, song after song, game after game. It was like they were the only speaking extras they’d paid for so they’d just keep ending up where I was.

I realized that a lot of my life is like that, where there’s music playing that I didn’t pick, and it made me appreciate the times where I do have some say. I eventually woke up laughing at them as one their arguments got more heated.

That was just a tiny slice from what seemed like days of exploration and experience. Nothing monumental or even especially memorable, just out doing stuff somewhere else, which was kind of cool.