A few nights ago I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am an actor on an elaborate outdoor set. The patio opens into several trails that snake around lush gardens. Overhanging willowy palms shroud the trails with a cool mist that suggests that any sudden turn may transport an unsuspecting man into “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Somewhere back in that green mask is a swimming pool with a diving board, but I cannot see it from where I am standing beside a patio lounge. I think this set is most similar to the one used in “The Philadelphia Story.” I half expect Katherine Hepburn to return from the swimming pool playfully inebriated from a love she should not be experiencing on the eve of her wedding.
In the reflection from the patio glass door I see that I look like an older Clayton Moore but without the Lone Ranger mask. I am wearing a blue Western shirt and jeans. I am one of those wholesome 1950s cowboy actors, except my age implies I am making the rounds of fan shows more so than acting in films. Nevertheless, I am here on this movie set, and I did not sneak passed the guard to get here. I am standing beside an old lady with fiery red hair who looks vaguely like Nancy Reagan. She is an elegant expression of 1940s Spanish fashion with her form fitting, Western vest, white shirt, and gray, wide leg trousers. She seems to be an old friend who has accompanied me to these movie sets for eons. I am as comfortable around her as I am wearing a pair of broken in boots.
A woman approaches us from inside the lush garden. She is a blond Doris Day type who is more pretty than sexy. She is wearing a white work shirt and tight, plaid pants that cut off midway between the knee and the ankle. She is also wearing a soiled, wide brimmed, Panama hat with the feminine touch of an inserted white rose. She seems to have been gardening, and yet the confident ease of her walk suggests a pampered woman. If she is gardening, it is not because she has to do so to pay the bills. Though I have never seen her before, I sense that she too is an actress who belongs on this movie set.
I take advantage of my advanced age to be a little forward. I open my big arms wide, and walk up to her with a debonair grin. She smiles back like the girl next door who is just so smitten. I hug her, glance back at my Nancy Reagan lookalike friend, and wave her over. She joins us in a group hug on the edge of the patio.
I am seated in the front row of an outdoor amphitheater. The stage has been replaced with a huge silver screen. It is a balmy night. The lights from the searchlights along the two sides of the screen and from the old fashioned projector in the back contrast very dramatically with the intense darkness. It is a cinematic contrast that makes it appear like we are characters in an art house movie watching a movie. Speakers on the tops of high poles project the audio well beyond the amphitheater. With the searchlights and the audio projection it is like the theater is trying to lure in more customers from miles away. Though I do not look back from the silver screen, I sense that there is nothing outside of this amphitheater but endless miles of California desert. The whole world literally is a wasteland out there beyond this picture show.
The amphitheater seats are packed with excited moviegoers. We are all munching on popcorn and hot dogs. The incessant conversation among the moviegoers very much would interfere with the dialogue on the screen, except that there is no dialogue to be heard. The movie consists of nothing more than footage of people in goggles and life vests whitewater rafting. The cinematography is clean and vibrant. It is like they are whitewater rafting through the silver screen and into our minds. Sometimes there are POV shots that put us in that raft. Other times, the rafters are coming right at us, and we behold that strange hybrid of fun and fear etched on their partially obscured faces just before they slam into us. The soundtrack consists of clips from Beach Boys music that give this footage a more retro feel.
Apparently, the Doris Day lookalike is my date for the night. I nod at her as if to tell her to hold my seat. She winks back, and then dives into another handful of buttered popcorn. I get up and walk around to the back of the huge screen. There are several concession stands and outhouses back there. I pass the long lines, and find myself standing before the last stand. There is a neon sign above that says “Movie Magic.” There is no line way back there, and the pimply teen boy at the cashier seems to be standing half asleep. I nudge him awake and ask for two slices of “Movie Magic.” He shrugs as if to say, “Whatever you want, old man,” and turns around to fetch me the two slices.
I am hovering in the air above a tree lined, manicured, college campus. On a white brick path below me is a long line of middle aged, overweight, balding, white men in identical blue suits and red ties. I understand that they are all voiceover artists. They are about to step into a Bauhaus building to lend their voices for audio books. The men look like they are defeated. They are here for their paychecks. They could be figurines on an assembly line about to be fed into the throat of a monster.