Sunday, September 23, 2012

On being an Autumn, Stand-Up Comedy, and Not Having a Soul

A few weeks ago I went to see Maria Bamford with a friend and some lovely former co-workers.  Sitting at the awkward comedy club table waiting for the show to start, someone asked if anyone knew who was opening.

I said, "I bet it's Conan O'Brien.  A few nights ago, I had a dream I was married to him, maybe it was a premonition."

I knew it wouldn't be Conan opening for Maria Bamford in Portland, OR.  I just say stuff sometimes.  A lot of the time.  Mostly when I'm bored.

I guess the Conan Dream had been weighing on me, on some level.  Until that moment, I had completely forgotten about it, but when I brought it up, I remembered how it had been so vivid, and felt so real, that when I first awoke, my actual waking life felt like the fake.

In the dream, Conan & I were in LA, had just returned from some kind of tropical honeymoon, and we both still smelled of industrial strength sunblock.  The dream was all amped up and happy, that surreal bliss that sometimes happens in real life, and usually lasts about as long as a dream.

But it was weird too.

Weird because between the two, I would have seen myself as more of an Andy Richter kind of a gal.  I guess my subconscious thinks otherwise.  It was also weird because it wasn't Steve Martin.  Since, like, pretty much my entire life, I've had a recurring dream about Steve Martin.  I feel like it started as far back as THE JERK, but it was definitely with me by the ROXANNE / PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES era.  Either way, we're talking about a dream I've had least a few times a month for more than 20 years.  It goes like this:  Steve and I are sitting 3rd row center of a movie theater, and we're watching a movie.  In real time.  Sometimes my feet are up on the seat in front of me, sometimes they are not.

I know it's a trick of my brain, but it seriously feels like the dream lasts the length of a feature.  We never enter the theater or leave the theater, we're just there.

But that isn't where conversation went on the night we were waiting for Maria Bamford.  No, the thing that the table, as a group, decided to jump on is that Conan and I could have a lovely litter of ginger children.  And how we'd be saving redheads from extinction.

This was news to me, that I was part of a dying breed.  Or maybe I did know.  On some level.  That would explain why my subconscious threw me a Conan dream - it was the product of a deep, primal, instinctual desire to continue the species.

Listening to this tableful of folks talk about redhead myths and theories reminded me of how a few weeks earlier, I was visiting a friend and her boyfriend asked me what it was like to not have a soul.  He explained that redheads don't have souls.  Or maybe it was just the gingers.  He seemed quite clear on the distinctions between the two.  It was all new to me.  Apparently, the guy had dated nothing but redheads (prior to being with my blonde friend), and he'd given the hair color more thought than I ever had.  Which is weird.  Because I'm a fairly self-involved.  And also quick to self-identify as redhead.

I am an autumn, that much is not up for debate, but my hair color is apparently open to interpretation.  Technically, it's strawberry-blonde.  But sometimes that takes too long to say, or seems very precious (a little too close to Strawberry Shortcake), and so I just go with red - the all-purpose, stand-by.  Or sometimes orange (that's what my grade-school classmates called it back in the day, not lovingly, but also not inaccurately).  Plus, I always figured that if it could be seen as orange, then my hair was light enough to also qualify for the ginger subset.  At least, ginger-adjacent.  But, it turns out, some folks see ginger as one thing, redhead as another, and neither as human.

I was tempted to do some research, to learn some more about the prejudices that might be impacting my life, but I decided that I don't really care.  I must have known it, on some level, all along.  I mean, my one and only recurring dream takes place indoors, in the dark, with someone who also has hair melanin issues.

No, I can't do that.  I'm not going to force an explanation for my recurring dream just so I can string everything together into a heartwarming, gently profound, reasonably graceful conclusion.  Because that's not really why Steve is there.  If it were, I imagine I'd be watching movies with Danny Kaye, another funny man dear to my heart, but also a ginger.  But that's not who I dream about.  Not that I would mind spending time with Danny, but I love that it's Steve.  Just me and Steve.  And nothing to do with hair color.


Which is a bit of a problem.  Not in life, but for this post.  I really wish I could wrap up this post and "bring it all home" in a proper way, but because I'm pretty sure my recurring dream has nothing to do with hair color, and it definitely has nothing to do with Conan, and probably nothing to do with Maria Bamford, then this post is just a bunch of random stuff I wrote down.

The only thing I can say for sure is this:  Some people dream dreams that are the foundations of transcendant works of art, of significant spiritual and/or religious motifs, of traveling through space and time, of billowing sheets gently obscuring and revealing surreal scenes amalgamated from their youth...  I dream of hanging out with comedians.  In real time.

Probably because I don't have a soul.

"Defects?  What kind of defects?"
"Anything from spina bifida to red hair."