Dream of: 29 November 1995 "Rabbit"

I was lying on the floor, with my head on a pillow and a white sheet over me, in what appeared to be a health club. Not far away from me 40-50 young healthy-looking people were practicing aerobics, moving in unison back and forth across the floor. I lay there observing, thinking that I could get up and join them. But I really didn't feel like participating, and I knew no one really expected it of me. I had certain other responsibilities in life which I was adequately performing, and it wasn't necessary for me to add aerobics to the list of things I had to do. Besides, physically, I was in good shape – maybe even in better shape than some of the people out on the floor, even though I was probably at least 20 years older than all of them. Some even looked as if they had a little flab around their stomachs – not much, but a little.

I finally stood up and since I was completely naked, draped the white sheet around me. I didn't think anyone there would mind if I walked around naked without the sheet, but I felt more comfortable with the sheet covering me. Besides, my penis seemed to have shrunk up so that it was extremely small, and I didn't want everyone to see how little it was.

As I walked away, I looked down at my own stomach to see if it looked paunchy. No, it looked in good shape, although I could clearly lose a few pounds. Making such observations about my body reminded me of a thought process I had experienced before, but which I couldn't exactly place at first. But slowly it came to me –

In the background the music for the aerobic exercises had been replaced by another sound: a man's voice talking on a radio. I quickly realized the voice belonged to the author John Updike. He was giving an interview and talking in general about his life. I had not so long ago listened to one of his books, Rabbit at Rest, on audio tape, and the deep gravelly voice on the radio sounded like the voice I had listened to for hours on tape.

Updike talked about how he had spent much of his life as a professor, and how teaching and writing complimented each other. I reflected how I had never had a teaching job, and how I had always rather deprecated such work. Teaching seemed trivial and mundane to me.

Updike bragged that he had written "thousands of books." I thought that had to be an exaggeration – no one could write thousands of books. What audacity to say such a thing.

Nevertheless, I had a favorable opinion of Updike and I had liked the book I had read. And I now saw how my thoughts of my body dovetailed with Updike: I was thinking much like the central character of his book, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom thought. Rabbit at Rest had been filled with Rabbit's thoughts, many of which had been about his health. I recalled that Rabbit had been far from healthy, and that he was indeed overweight. But of course in the book, Rabbit had been much older than I – he had been close to 60 – and I didn't think I could really compare myself to him.

I wondered just how much the character of Rabbit had been patterned after Updike himself. Had Rabbit been a reflection of Updike? Rabbit certainly had not been the kind of person I would want to spend much time with, and I wondered if Updike was the same way. What if I had to spend a whole day alone with Updike – how would I like it? I wasn't sure.

I wondered if I were to have to spend a whole day with some other author how I would enjoy it – Larry McMurtry for instance. The first word which came to mind was "boring", but that wasn't really fair. Lonesome Dove – which McMurtry had written – was quite entertaining. And I had read another book by McMurtry which had kept my interest. Still I had doubts that I would want to be alone with McMurtry for a whole day.

As I continued along, I realized I was no longer walking, but that I was on a bicycle. I was fully dressed and was riding along the side of an interstate highway. The pedaling was very difficult and I was having trouble making progress. But what upset me most was when I thought of where I was going: I was in Texas and I was headed for Ohio. This was crazy. I was going to try to ride a bicycle all the way to Ohio. I thought there must be a better way. I didn't have a car, but it occurred to me that all I had to do was go to Hertz or Avis and rent one. I could load the bicycle in the trunk.

It was about 2 p.m. I knew it took less that 24 hours to reach Ohio from Texas. I could just rent the car for one day. I might just keep riding the bicycle until midnight and then rent the car, so I would only have to have it for one day. Even if I had to pay for two days it would be worth it.

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