Dream of: 07 May 1996 "A Sensitive Point"

I was in the Stockyards area of Fort Worth, Texas, in a large building which had originally been designed to hold cows when they had been brought on cattle drives to Fort Worth. The building now, however, (as part of the tourist attraction of the Stockyards area) had been converted into many small specialty shops catering to tourists.

I walked into one shop which was supposed to contain antiques, and I looked around. I soon found something which interested me: a disassembled flute. I picked it up and put it together. Although it was designed like a typical transverse flute, it appeared to be made of wood instead of metal, and as I pushed the foot piece into place, I was uncertain that the flute would hold together securely. But to my surprise, once I had assembled the flute, I found it quite sturdy.

When a man who worked in the store approached me, I began negotiating with him about buying the flute. As we talked, at one point he broke away to make a phone call to get more information about the flute. It seemed that if I purchased the flute I might also be entitled to lessons. When the man returned to me, he again continued talking, but I pointed out that he still hadn't given me the information he was supposed to get when he had made the phone call. He looked embarrassed, as if he had completely forgotten what he was doing while he had made the call. I didn't press the issue, but instead I decided to try out the flute to see if it would play.

I put my fingers on the flute in the position of the second D above middle C, placed my lower lip on the head piece and blew. Somewhat to my surprise, a rather pleasant sound came out. The note was just a little squeaky, however, and I was uncertain whether the squeakiness was due to some problem with the flute, or due to my being out of practice. I started to run my fingers rapidly up and down the scales until the man interrupted me. He indicated that no one was allowed to play any instruments in the store because doing so disturbed the other customers. I didn't argue with him since I had already made up my mind about the flute. I hadn't been able to tell for sure if the flute had any problems with it, but I had seen and heard enough to know that I wanted to buy it.

About the same time I realized that my father was also in the store, and that he had come in with me. He had been looking at a large stack of old pictures, perhaps old Life magazines, or perhaps just old photographs. At any rate he was also engaged in some complicated negotiations to buy the old pictures.

As I listened to him barter, I realized the scenario which I was witnessing exactly resembled the situation when my father had been a young man and had started his first business. At that early time in his life when he had just been starting out on his own in the world, my father had been quite poor. He had owned a small amount of property, including a small mobile home, which I called a trailer. He had traded away his property, including the trailer, for items which he needed to start his first business. Through the years he had proven to be quite successful in his business ventures, rising above – and putting far in the past – his original poverty.

However, through all the years there had been one sore point: my father had never had a nice door on any of his homes. It seemed that in the original bargain which my father had made – when he had traded his belongings for the goods to start his business – a door had been involved in the trade. I was unsure whether my father had traded away a door, or whether he had obtained a door which he had used in his business. But I did know that the door to his home had always been a shabby affair, a rather shameful object to look at. Yet for some reason, no matter how successful my father had become, he had never been able to change the ugly old door and replace it with a decent one.

Two rather elegantly dressed women were sitting near me. They seemed dressed in garb which might have come from the 1890s, apparently in line with the general theme of the Stockyards area. They had been watching my father and they began questioning me about him. I began relating the story of my father's early poverty, how he had overcome it, and how the way he was negotiating right now for the old pictures reminded me of the way he had set up his first business. The women laughed a little derisively, and asked if my father intended to trade a trailer for the pictures. I told them that was exactly what it looked like. I then also mentioned the door and explained that the door was a rather "sensitive point" with my father, something about which we never talked.

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