Sunday, September 04, 2011
“Envy's a coal comes hissing hot from Hell.” -- Philip James Bailey
I caught sight of the helicopter flying a few blocks ahead of me and I floored the pedal. I was going to catch this bastard no matter what.
It was late and I was blindly driving into some roughneck part of town filled with crumbling warehouses, burnt-out factories, and pitch black alleyways.
As I pulled up to a red light, a freight train came rumbling out of the darkness just a few feet from the roadway. I had no idea what I was going to do when and if I caught up with that helicopter, but then it wasn't really a night for ideas--or rational thought.
But, wait, there’s something wrong here.
I don’t own a car. This neighbor is a little too weird-—it kind of looks like the old Industrial City down by the waterfront, but it kind of doesn’t. It's familiar territory, but it has a Blade Runner twist. And I don't chase helicopters for any reason whatsoever.
Okay, now I get it. None of this is real. It’s actually yet another of my loopy nightmare-dream-delusions that strike me without warning or anything resembling logic.
In this latest hallucination, I had seen this massive helicopter rumbling overhead and I noticed it was dangling a large poster announcing the debut of a new anchor for a network news program.
The anchorman was a former colleague of mine whom I had worked with at a newspaper many years ago. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I always thought he was a decent guy.
But in this dream he had committed the one, hideous unpardonable sin for which there can no atonement whatsoever.
He was more successful than I was.
Down These Mean Streets
Now a normal person might feel happy when a former coworker makes good. He would congratulate his old buddy, maybe drop him a line and wish him all the best on his new gig.
Yes, that’s what a normal person would do. But we’re talking about me, remember?
I started to get all sorts of mad dog angry. How could that stiff possibly get such a big time network job? I whined as I roared through the streets of Freak Town determined to catch that chopper. I’d smarter, better-looking, more talented than that loser will ever be. I should have the goddamn anchorman job, not him.
I lost sight of the helicopter—and my mind--just as I reached the traffic light. I was trying to decide my next move when this huge car came driving from the opposite direction, crossed over the dividing line, and came much too close to my ride.
“Join us,” this gang-banger in shades said from behind the wheel of the invading auto. “Join us or we’ll cut you.”
Join you? Cut me? What was this lunatic talking about? And how can he drive at night with sunglasses on?
I had about two seconds to ponder these scintillating questions when a guy with a tire iron leaned out of the rear window and began pounding the living beejeezus out of my car.
I don’t recall much after that and I’m not complaining. If the rest of the dream was anything like the stuff I can remember, I’d much rather forget it.
And now the moral of our story. This dream clearly was a warning about the dangers of envy. My obsession with somebody else’s success had caused me to abandon all sense of caution, drove me into some extremely dangerous territory, and brought me on a collision course with the Psycho Twins.
Envy really is the green-eyed monster, taking a wicked toll on your time, energy, and brain cells. It can cost you a good night’s sleep.
And it’s pretty tough on your car, too.