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castro’s back room

June 27, 2012

I’m driving quickly through a bad section of an old, weathered, seen-better-days seaside town. It is evening, and the passengers in my car urge me to drive faster and faster; they want to get to their destination before all the gangs come out. As I take their advice into consideration, I realize I’ve taken a wrong turn and pull into a gravel parking lot to turn around. I am not long in the parking lot, because suddenly hundreds of “bad”-looking cars have materialized there–the flames-out-the-tailpipe, spikes-on-the-wheels kind of bad. In other words, they a looking for a rumble.

I peel out of that lot as fast as I can and speed off in the other direction, heading for the section of town that houses all the restaurants. In that dreamy way that only dreams have, I am suddenly alone, and suddenly without a car. I am in a run-down pizza joint, being cajoled by Fidel Castro to buy a slice of his supposedly-delicious pizza. Also, he wants to take me into the back room for some fun. For some reason, though I am totally unwilling to follow him into his back room for whatever romantic encounter he has in mind, I stay in the restaurant and mull over my pizza options. What to get, what to get? Pepper and onion? Mushroom? Sr. Castro has one other employee and she looks exceptionally bored at my inability to decide on a flavor. He looks exceptionally annoyed that I won’t follow him into his sex lair. In fact, after a while of my peering through the glass at the pizza, he pops out from the counter to stand beside me. Why don’t I want to join him? I can help him rule Cuba! We would be a powerful pair, and I could have all the pizza I want. Not to mention that he’s an excellent lover, he says, and could teach me many things. The ways of Cuban love-making are exotic and passionate–none of this boring American business! I begin to wonder. 

I agree to visit his home behind the pizza parlor. Just as I do, the dream changes again. Now, we are in Fidel Castro’s apartment. It’s decked out in that pastel geometric+brushstroke kind of art that’s only found in 1986 and at the beach. The couches are a light pink and teal, with a flowing brushstroke pattern. Everything looks at least 25 years old–faded, worn, shabby in an un-chic way. Fidel sits on one side of the living room, looking at me. I sit on the other. Also there are two librarians and my brother. I pick up a book that Fidel has on his plastic coffee table. It’s a picture book of an odd shape, and it looks very familiar to me. I suddenly realize that this tall, skinny book was written by my brother for a school project and illustrated by my famous artist uncle (actually, that I have such an uncle is a real thing! You can find more about him here). I am encouraged to read the book aloud, and so I do. The book is all about a journey to find the best pizza in town, but it’s very wordy and the illustrations are terrible. As I finish reading, I wonder aloud whether my brother got a good grade. “I got the best grade in the class,” he retorts. Ah, of course. I forgot he was sitting right there. 

The librarians loved the book and found the illustrations interesting. They enjoyed it so much that they wanted to add it to the library’s collection. Just as I was about to tell them that there was only one in existence, my brother produces 3 or 4 smaller soft-cover versions of the same book, and the librarians smile in delight.

Then I woke up!

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