Saturday, May 30, 2009

Caffeine Dreams

Damn strange. I must be getting old. Sometimes I wake up at five in the morning and have to go downstairs and drink a stiff cup of coffee so that I have enough energy to get back to sleep. Then I will usually sleep until nine.

It happened again this morning. And occasionally, if the coffee is strong enough, it will give me enough of a jolt to prod me into dreams.

This morning I dreamt I was teaching English to a large new class of adolescent students. The students were all Chinese, though for some reason the class was being held in a classroom in Madison, Wisconsin. As I taught I noticed that two of the boys in the class, obviously brothers, were Chinese with some admixture of something else: Middle Eastern blood of some kind.

I asked one during class: “I know it’s a strange question, but I’m curious. You’re ancestors aren’t all Chinese, are they?”

He began to explain when another student, whom I hadn’t noticed, piped up. I realized this third student, wearing gold-rimmed glasses and a white dress shirt, wasn’t actually a student, but the father of the two boys. He stood up and approached my desk, sitting down in front of me.

“You’re right,” he said. “We’re Arabs, from Saudi Arabia. I moved here to the States because, well, one has more freedom: one can live the way one wants. I want my sons to have that opportunity. It’s not that I hate my country--by no means. It’s just culturally a bit . . . Well . . .”

“A bit stiff?”

“Yes. And I married a very beautiful woman and moved here. Very beautiful.” He smiled as if he were going to take out his wallet and show me her photo.

Then I noticed something else. His gold-rimmed glasses had three lenses. Because the man, though handsome, had three eyes, one right above his nose.

But then as I talked to him he had two eyes again. The number of eyes kept shifting back and forth. Finally I started to feel I was spending too much time chatting with this father while the rest of the class sat idle.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I really have to go back to teaching.”

“Alright. Take it easy, maaan,” he said, using a hippyism that was completely out of character. He moved back to his seat.

Here in Taipei I’d recently taught the Cyclops episode in the Odyssey. There’s no doubt this was behind the shifty third eye above the man’s nose.

As the class dismissed later on, it turned out that one of the sons wasn’t an adolescent any more, but a university student going to a party afterwards. He invited me to go and gave me directions. I was to get on a certain bus in the underground bus depot right under the classroom.

I waited down there and watched, people getting on and off this and that bus, but couldn’t find the right bus and couldn’t figure out how the new Madison bus system worked.

In short, the dream ended as far too many of my dreams do: in a transportation tangle, myself late for some event or exam

1 comment:

Unknown said...


Hi :

Our company is coming to your area soon to do work on a fun new project speaking to people who like canned or bottled coffee and tea based beverages. We are looking to speak with men and women who have opinions to share. We offer a compensation as a thank you for your time.

If you’re interested, we’d love to speak with you to tell you a little more about the project, and see if it’s a good fit.

Please email us at with :

Best # / time of day to reach you.
List of your favorite coffee and tea based ready-to-drink beverages (in bottles or cans).
If you are a student, are you in high school or college? If working, what is your current occupation?

We look forward to speaking with you soon!