Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Strange dream of returning to Japan

Dream: I return to Japan for work. My parents are both alive during this dream, and my Mom can speak normally; she makes me promise to call her when I arrive. I forget parts of this dream, but on the first night, I find myself in a bar run by gaijin in a suburban part of town (not sure what city it's supposed to be - on the outskirts of Tokyo, I guess). I agree to help out, because it's busy, and I serve food and drink to customers (apparently) for several hours; but I get restless. I gather someone I used to know is also in Japan, and that the Butthole Surfers are playing somewhere that night. I explain to people in the bar - all of whom seem to be foreigners like me - who the Butthole Surfers are, and that I never got to see them, and am considering it. Some customers familiar with them seem to chuckle and pitch in as I describe their live shows, but when I ask if they've seen the band, they also haven't. I'm chewing over seeing them, maybe with this person I know - a friend from elementary school whom, in fact, I have not known for decades and am not on good terms with. Still, here we are, both in Japan - why not see how he's doing?

As business slows, I decide to take a walk - maybe to see this person. I discover that I am, for reasons unclear, wearing only shoes, socks and underwear, am mostly naked as I walk down the street. I come to an office building and hear music coming out (not the Butthole Surfers); I go upstairs and see that there is a band playing, a tuneful, heavy jazz-rock fusion happening. It doesn't faze me that it's mid-afternoon and the concert is happening in an office building; I've seen that sort of thing before. The audience is a mixed gaijin and youthful Japanese crowd, seated; I watch the band for awhile and realize that my former friend is playing drums. I'm shocked, but he's good. I make my way to a space on the floor, give him a thumbs up when he spots me, and watch a few songs, thinking that maybe he'd join me for the Butts, wondering if he'd take a magic mushroom with me to enhance the weirdness of the show. Maybe; I contemplate asking him, but we have yet to talk to each other, and he's obviously busy.

I then start thinking that I should be getting back to the bar. I take advantage of a strange break - everyone disappears but one musician, and, continuing to perform a song on guitar, he leads the audience outside of the room, Pied-Piper-like. I make my break - I have to pee, anyhow - and, after finding a toilet (I think), I go back downstairs. It's gotten cold, and I think, "Did I bring a coat? Did I really walk here next to naked?" I see a coat that looks a lot like mine, and try it on, to discover that it doesn't quite fit and there's something in the pocket that I know is not mine. I don't want to steal a coat, so I take it off and head for the door. I step outside and find my appearance shocks a family of Japanese walking by. I say "setsumei wa muzukashii," which, though I'm not sure I could consciously remember the words if I tried, I think is pretty much coherent way of conveying the idea that "my appearance merits an explanation (setsumei), but it would be difficult (muzukashii)" - so apparently there is more Japanese still in me than I realize. I am less certain that my ending the statement with "naa" is appropriate, and I exchange a brief unfriendly couple of syllables with the Japanese mother, who hurries her children along. At one point, she says "go," though I'm not sure if this is English or something in Japanese...

I duck back inside the building, feeling now uncomfortable with my near-nudity. There are several trenchcoats inside the door. What should I do? I try one on, step outside, realize that the pockets are once again full, and feel guilty about stealing people's belongings. I go back in again, resolving to come out in my unclad state and just walk back like that - it didn't bother me before, obviously - but when I find myself once again on the street, walking back to the bar, it appears I have stolen a trenchcoat after all, the most threadbare one I could find, with nothing in the pockets and holes in it. I feel inner conflict about having done this: it's an old coat, so it's ready to be replaced anyhow, but on the other hand, given its condition, I deduce that whoever was wearing it either had strong sentimental attachment to it or else was quite poor. I resolve to get to the bar, get my clothes back, and return it. What if it belongs to one of the musicians?

I remember as I near the bar that I'm supposed to call home, but I do a quick calculus of time zones - again something I didn't realize I remembered how to do, following the easy rule of adding thirteen hours while subtracting a day, which sounds about right - and determine that it's too early in the morning to call; my parents will still be asleep. I shouldn't call them until 9 or 10 at night. Then I spot a record and DVD store that I hadn't seen previously, with an "open 24 hours" sign on it, and elect to shop. I check my surroundings - I'm on the right road - and go in to look at their horror movies on DVD. They seem to have separate categories for regular horror and perverse horror, which they describe by some other term that I don't now remember, so I resolve to look at the perverse horror section next. The last thing I remember from the dream is looking at the movies on the shelves, head tilted to the side, still wearing the threadbare trenchcoat.

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