some people I ran into from my sketchy-cool neighborhood were going to some midnight show in an old theater building– so I decided to venture out and go too since I knew people I knew would be there. it was a hipster scene, so I got all dressed up in my edgiest clothes– tho I feared they were sadly out of date and low-quality and -rent. it was an enormous old space with industrial galvanized metal circular stairways between levels, and the place was packed with the uberhip, and I started to regret coming.
I also visited my conservative friends in their big suburban houses and left feeling like an alien.
I went to work at a new place in the front offices of something like a sam’s club or costco– and I was busy, but other people were overwhelmed, so I offered to help with checking food in in the back– the guy said, remember, you have to touch it and look at it— presumably to see if it was bad. i went to try to find the bathroom and discovered an entire employee lockerroom facility with a big pool and people swimming laps.
my grandfather picked me up and took me to visit my father– we were driving on side roads– he was driving so slowly it made me nervous, especially as we were coming up on a merge onto the highway– it was clear though, so he cut over without a problem– and seemed to keep going as if he wouldn’t stop before he was in oncoming traffic lanes– I said, stop! here!— and he was already correcting, in the lane for the lefthand turn, I now remembered belatedly that we were supposed to take– he took it, and I realized just how very long it had been since I had visited. I said something about this and how I wanted to more adventures, and he said, you should, it’s good for you to go explore little islands.
I got invited out with some people I didn’t know very well and so was kind of tagging along. we entered a big building, and I had no idea whether it was a club or a party or a show. we sat waiting in an anteroom with some strangers, and I thought maybe restaurant– but then it started. it was a big interactive game that ranged throughout the rooms– we were given scenarios and then had to act, quickly, in response to them– everyone else seemed much more adept at this than I was. at one point during a dress-up bit, I tried to cut loose, see if I could really get into it, was twirling a belt around over my head and hoo-ing in character– but then the buckle hit something and clanged, and I stopped and felt, in retrospect, that it had been in poor taste and not particularly ingenious. I just wasn’t getting the game, and it was incredibly embarrassing and frustrating.
and then when it ended we all filed through and received little assessment cards, and as I stood in line my competitive side kicked in– and then I got my card– I could hardly look at it– but I thought it had a D written on it– and I’d seen others get As. I was having trouble reading the handwriting– there was a little note which might have illuminated it, but I couldn’t make it out. with the near-certainty that I’d utterly failed, now documented, I felt like a complete and utter waste– I was crushed– I had liked the game, wanted to play it, and simply was frustrated by my own clumsy slowness.
there were a bunch of electronic consoles scattered around– at several points during the game there had been two or three challenges going on at once– people would be selected out and go off for whatever bit and return to the group and pick up wherever we were at the time– one of the things going on seamed to be taking place on these monitors. so after everyone left, I tried my hand at it– and was utterly flummoxed– the operating environment was like nothing I’d seen before, full of many navigational choices, complex and graphical and clean and bright– and I thought, here is the future, and I can’t keep up.
then there were my glasses– for some reason I discovered that I was unable to look, to see through both eyes at once– the left eye would just stay closed and then if I forced it open, the right eye would close– I thought the problem must be the glasses, the prescription, and in the process of fiddling with them, snapped them in half.
I fell or climbed in somewhere I shouldn’t have and was captured and put in a cage. I climbed the walls on little climbing hand- and foot-holds. I found a tiny trap door at the top and pushed it open and could see a dormitory or sorority house outside– I screamed and hollered and called out to the girls, amazed that my captor wouldn’t have somehow prevented me from making my situation known. but then later the girls, when they came, were incorporated into horrible experiments. it was all a trick.
I was running across a field, and suddenly I realized I was stepping on fragile young plants and stopped– but that was no good because I realized I was still standing on them. I looked for space between the rows, but there was none, only tightly, perfectly planted patches of green and blue-green and yellow-green and pink, all so tidy, all tiny and fragile– and the gardener was there, scowling at me, and I apologized and begged for her help, and somehow she got me out of it and set about trying to repair the damage I’d done.