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October 10, 2012

Everything happens to me

We were gathering in the conference room for one of our regular meetings, but one of my selves was missing. “Any of you know where I am?” I asked, indicating the empty chair.

“I was in the hall a minute ago.”

“I just got here, I thought I was here already.”

“Would one of you wake me up? Maybe I know where I am.”

I nudged me where I was hunched over on the table. “Oh, wow! I’m all here!” I said. “I was having the craziest dream!”

“Well, I’m not here,” I said, again indicating the empty chair, “but I guess we can get started without me.”

“Oh, good. I mean, I’m sure I’ll get here as quick as I can, but I gotta tell you about this dream! It was this long, dark corridor, like Waverly Hills or something, an abandoned hospital, maybe, or like an old government building, really creepy, plaster falling off the walls, leaves and twigs all over the place, broken windows. Nothing but darkness in every direction …”

“Oh, crap, not this one again,” I said. “The one with the laboratory?”

“Yeah! How did you know! Oh, my god! It was so awesome! At the end of this really long hall, there was an open doorway and a big room with a lot of stainless steel tables and electronics and video screens glowing green. And there was …”

“Yeah, I know, a man with no face ...”

“Oh! Wow! Yeah! That was so weird! It was like I could see who it was in the corner of my eye, but when I looked right at him, all I could see was a dark blot, like I’d been staring at the sun or something.”

“And he’s working on a time machine, right?”

“Well, yeah. Hey, how do you know this?” I paused for a second, and confused, I lost my train of thought.

“We can come back to it, OK? We have more important matters to consider. We are here to celebrate the memory of our dearly departed …”

“Oh, crap! That’s it! I remember what it was! It wasn’t a time machine at all! It was a dream!”

As usual, the rest of us started to lose patience with me, but we knew I would figure it out in a minute, so we waited.

“Yes, it was a dream. I was in a long hall, and then I saw the man with no face, and he put me in a time machine.”

“Yeah … but it wasn’t a time machine, it was just a box …”

“As I was saying, we are here to remember our self who has died. Would any of us like to say anything about the deceased?”

“I always like to remember me as a kid. I wasn’t such a bad kid. I guess I was pretty normal for those days, riding my bike in the neighborhood, trying to get into as much as I could, playing with fire, pulling obnoxious pranks.”

“You always say that, but I remember that I was a bit of a shit. I was a bully when I could get away with it. Sure, I got picked on, too, but I passed it forward, you know?”

“Let’s not forget the amazing things I did as an adult! I won all those Oscars, and I cured polio, and I invented electricity. I was the president of the United States and all of those senators.”

“Yeah, but I killed a lot of people, too. That’s hard to overlook.”

“True, but a lot of those were justified. The juries said so.”

“War crimes.”

“Why do I have to dwell on the darkest details!”

“I’m just sayin’!”

“I liked it when I was a detective, and I figured out what happened when nobody was looking.”

“I was a good father.”

“And mother!”

“I was a good citizen.”

“And a horrible person, no doubt about it.”

“Well, I didn’t do anything I can’t forgive myself for.”

“Yeah, I gotta give myself grace.”

“Amen to that.”

“Oh, man! I’m all still here! Sorry I’m late. I went to the wrong room. Did I miss anything?”

For further consideration: In his song “Caspar The Friendly Ghost,” Daniel Johnston explained how Caspar died (He dropped his last dime in a wishing well, but he was leaning too close, and then he fell), but he points out that Everybody respects the dead, so Happy Halloween! Oh, by the way, this is Mental Illness Awareness Week. For more information, check out