Just a cute story …
by David Rippe
(excerpted from Listen–The Sounds and Silences of Our Secret Lives)
Listen up. Lean in. I have a story to tell. One you will want to hear.
It’s a short trip between cool and fool–two letters actually, alphabetically speaking. You’ll have to decide which one am I. Sorry to be so brash. It is not my way. I’ve been shy all my life, barely inserting myself when necessary. I seldom speak up, preferring to allow others with more to say, stronger beliefs, to be the attraction. That doesn’t mean I’m a doormat, only that I favor the background. But I am too electric to let this pass. So here goes.
I woke with a revelation. One of those bright, dream-induced visions that solve all the problems of the world at once. It was a lucid dream brought about by weeks of financial anxiety and night after night of sleeplessness. We, my wife and I, didn’t weather the collapse of the financial markets any better than anyone else. Who could? With foreclosures through the roof, home prices through the floor, the stock market in the tank and banks stealing trillions with a capital “T” from taxpayers, no one is safe. Everyone’s nest egg is in danger of being carted off by greedy predators. Am I being too harsh? I think not.
Dreams have always been a fascination, a sleepy wonderment, the conscience quietly processing and organizing all hopes, thoughts, fears and disappointments. Worries go here, aspirations over there, that kind of thing. A massive filing system to keep one sane.
As I said, I woke with a revelation. Bursting with enthusiasm but tempered by grogginess I stumbled to the bathroom to perform the standard regimen of personal hygiene–expel waste, brush teeth to minty freshness, wash aging face, comb wildly ill behaved hair. All the while keeping the details of my dream vivid in my mind.
The sensual aroma of sausage, eggs and toast wafted upstairs. The wife was cooking. She’s a good cook. Despite our relationship having become one of utility some years prior during an unremembered period when things switched unnoticed from love to convenience, I was aching to tell her my news. I had figured out the entire world. It all made sense. It was too big, too glorious, and too brilliant to keep to myself. Someone needed to know.
I headed into the kitchen. She was standing over the sink doing dishes, her back to me. “I had the most profound vision last night, dear,” I said with the most enthusiasm I’d mustered since my first raise at work, twelve years ago. “I dreamed that people the world over decided that money was just paper and therefore was worthless. People had gone off it, didn’t care for it, making it useless. At the same time, everyone owned a nice dog or two. Man’s best friend and all that. We loved our pets. Were devoted to them. As such, we decided–me, you and every person on Earth–that dog biscuits were the most prized possession one could own. Dollars were confetti. Diamonds just clear hunks of coal. Gold became a shiny paperweight. People were oobie-scooby over dog biscuits. Overnight dog biscuits became the currency for all goods and services. People waited happily for hours outside PetSmart hoping to horde Beggin’ Strips, Rawhides and Milk-Bones.”
Water and soap sloshed off china and glassware. Steam rose from the sink as my wife labored on. I sat down to a warm breakfast and speared a sausage link. “The President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the President of the World Bank were all on TV begging, imploring people to come to their senses.”
I took a swig of orange juice. It tasted sweeter, more full of life, the most delicious drink I’d ever tasted. “Don’t you see, honey? We’re all just jumping after dog biscuits. We’re a trained circus act. In real life, we’re chasing what doesn’t matter–money! We’re slaves to our passions–you to your shopping, and me to my work. And for what? To make more money to buy more stuff? To fill our attic and garage with crap we don’t even remember we have? We think we’re so sophisticated with all our meaningless trappings. But really we’re just baboons with credit cards and table manners.”
I dug into my scrambled eggs, warm, fluffy and wholesome. “It’s time we grasp a piece of reality. We’re all running around panting, sniffing for clues, yelling ‘Snausage!’ It’s insane. We’re in competition with our selves. We need to simplify. Uh huh, that’s the ticket. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”
She turned off the water, grabbed a dishtowel, dried her hands and turned to me. She stared at me her violet eyes twinkling, moist sapphires, searching mine. She said nothing.
“Isn’t it all so clear?” I smiled. “It’s what James Madison and the founding fathers warned against. Citizens so in debt, so driven by material goods, that they are too distracted to pay attention to what really matters. We’ve been brainwashed and converted from citizens to consumers. While we’re busy jumping after dog biscuits we’re being robbed blind. That’s my revelation. We’re all just jumping after dog biscuits! Doesn’t it all make sense? What do you think?”
My wife grinned wide and genuine. “Woof!”