Dream of: 26 March 1997 "Shiftless"

It was a little before midnight when I sauntered into the Grandview Avenue House; I was again living in the House, which was arranged as always – the three downstairs rooms in a row, one after the other, the first room being the living room, the middle room a bedroom and the last room the kitchen. Passing through the middle bedroom, I noticed that someone was lying on the bed in the room, and fixing my gaze through the shadows, I saw an extremely alluring black-haired woman in a flimsy black negligee stretched out on the bed. She appeared to be in her early twenties, and only when she spoke did I realize she was my mother. She was in happy spirits, and she told me that when I was ready I could come and sleep with her tonight. I made a flattering comment that I would certainly find pleasure in sleeping with such a young thing as her. But my words were more than mere flatteries; I knew she would let me have my way with her, as she had often done in the past, and I relished the idea of again feeling her body close to mine.

But before going to bed, I thought I would like to have something to eat, and I walked on into the kitchen. Entering the kitchen, I found another female waiting for me. She appeared to be one of several women who also lived in the house and who looked out for me, attending to my needs. This particular one, however, was quite special. She wasn't more than 20 years old, obviously of Latin American descent, and picture-perfect beautiful. She had raven hair and scarlet lips which accentuated her slim shapely body. Assuming her natural role of looking out for me, she forthwith advised me that I needed to wake up early the following morning and go to school. I groaned, having completely forgotten about school, or that it was a school night. I said, "I forgot all about school."

On top of that, I now remembered that I had a math test scheduled for the following morning and I hadn't studied for it. Instead of studying, I had been out having a good time, drinking red wine at some swanky establishment, thoroughly enjoying myself. It was too much to now have to fracture my present jovial frame of mind with deliberations about tomorrow's test. Besides, I had already come to the conclusion that I was going to fail my math class anyway. And math was probably not the only class I was going to fail. In fact, although this was supposed to be my last year of school, I obviously wasn't going to pass. Since I didn't want to return for another year, I would probably not even end up with a high school diploma.

I had already accepted these facts, and I didn't want to think about them now – I was in much too good of a mood for that – and I sat down at the kitchen table, where the black-haired beauty had already set me out a plate of food. As I began to eat, I was pleasantly surprised when the girl sat down straight across from me, staring at me.

I loved to look at her. The sight of her was just so pleasurable for me. Her long black hair. The black dress which she was wearing. Abruptly she spoke, "Go to Uruguay with me and I'll marry you."

When she said "Uruguay" I thought she was talking about a country in Africa, Uganda, although in my mind I couldn't quite place where it was. The thought of going to Africa with her sounded interesting. However I smiled knowingly. I knew that the girl was hooked on me and that she would marry me in an instant whether or not I went with her to Africa, if I would only ask her. I responded, "You'd marry me anyway."

She sassed back that if I didn't marry her, she was going to marry George Costanza (the character played by the actor Jason Alexander in the television series "Seinfeld"). This I didn't find amusing. I was familiar with the reprobate Costanza from the Seinfeld sitcom series. I was afraid she might be serious about marrying him. And the fact was, that although I didn't want to marry her, I did care deeply about her. I loved to look at her and I loved to have her around. I would hate to see her end up with a loser like George Costanza. I knew I would have to do whatever I could to try to prevent that.

I thought maybe I should try to point out that the reason I couldn't marry her now was because of me, and not because of her. I looked at her and quipped, "I'm shiftless."

She looked puzzled, and I realized she didn't understand what the word meant. I asked, "Do you know what ‘shiftless' means?"

I knew that since she was from Latin America, she sometimes had trouble with English words. Actually I myself wasn't quite sure what the word meant, and I didn't recall having ever used the word before. Nevertheless, as I thought about it, I thought I had a basic understanding of the word. Fortunately a thick gray dictionary was lying on the table. I picked up the dictionary, opened it and began looking for the word "shiftless." I also added, "That's not a word I often use."

I thought the word meant something like "not tied down, moving around, not staying in one spot." Although I didn't remember having ever used the word before, I liked it. And even though I was aware the word had negative connotations, I thought it was indeed an accurate description of me. I liked the roughish tone of the word, for the word also seemed to imply a certain sense of freedom, of being carefree. And that was how I felt: free. I liked my lifestyle and I didn't want to change it. Even now, I was in a fine mood, returning home late at night, just the right amount of wine in my stomach, having spent a jocular evening with friends. I didn't want to give up that life. No matter how much I liked the girl.

Still, I realized there was something about the girl that seized me, and I would rue losing her. Maybe someday, indeed, I could see myself settled down with her. But not now.

As I looked for the word, I kept hearing a slight rumbling, and I thought at first it might be my stomach growling. But finally I realized I was just leaning on the table, causing the legs to scrape on the floor. When I eased up, the sound stopped.

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