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diaryland: entry for 2004-02-08 (10:24)
In which our plucky young hero has another of those dreams.

I'm a much better improviser when I'm asleep.

The setting: the gym of my old elementary school, the one that got torn down two years ago. A small audience is there to watch some competitive improv. The judges explain to each team the very simple rules: each round you're given a theme, some other rule I forget, some other rule that isn't important, and if you break any of the rules they'll slice you with the sharpened edge of a giant red meter stick. Or maybe just hit it on a desk. It all depends.

I end up going first and am given "Boston" as my topic. Since it's the first round, I have to do a solo scene. (This isn't pressure at all, God no.) So I say to the audience, "Boston always makes me think of three things. The Broad Street Bullies(1)... the Celtics... Krispy Kreme donuts... and... and, wait. That was three things already. But I swear I was thinking of something else. What was it?"

It takes a moment for them to figure out this was my ask-for, and finally someone says, "New Mexicans." I guess that she thought there was a lot of Albuquerque-to-Boston migration or something. (Of course, it's a dream, so anything makes sense. I'm lucky she didn't turn into Cthulhu and say "Eating your brains.")

"New Mexicans," I say. "Thank you." Pause for a moment, lights, and I put on a bright smile. While one hand's thumb holds up the strap of my backpack, I wave goodbye. "Bye, Mom! Bye, Dad! I'll see you in a week." I start walking. "All right! A hiking vacation in Mexico! Starting right here on the highway to Tijuana! Yeah! El Tijuana... uh... road-o. El road-o del Tijuana. Yeah."

A little further on (not too long, to keep things moving), I come to a fork in the road and decide to ask a fellow pedestrian (I needed a pedestrian there, so to hell with common sense) for directions. "Excuse me? I need some directions to Tijuana." (Hop over to the other side of the stage, assume a different stance and expression: "Que?") Back to stage right, thumb through backpack strap, the backpacker replies, "Oh, I guess you don't speak any English. Well... um... Mi habas ... need-o ... direction con Tijuana?"

(Pedestrian: "Que?")

Suddenly, I get an idea, and hop just a little bit behind me and put my hands up next to my ears, fluttering them like tiny wings. "Now you see the drawbacks of America's lax linguistic policies." The backpacker starts in surprise: "Who are you?" The fairy smirks and says "I'm your surprisingly neoconservative conscience. Now you see the end result of what happens when the U.S. doesn't do enough to require the use of English. Nobody here can understand you! Nobody! I'll say that again as I fade away in twinkling light! Nooooooboooooody...."

"No!" screams the backpacker. "Come back, conscience! I need someone to talk to!" Just as he starts clutching at the air, someone comes up behind him. It's a police officer. "Is there a problem here?" he asks the backpacker, and finally coaxes the story out of him. "So you were planning to just live here for a week with no money, no job, no ability to speak Spanish, and no real plans." The backpacker corrects him, "I have a hundred dollars in Canadian money." The policeman smirks and says "That's not even enough for the bribe to prevent this."

"Prevent wh--" the backpacker asks, and then he's forced to the ground, hands behind his back. "Oh god, I'm being arrested! Helpa! Helpa! El policio brutada! Mi es Canada gringo! Helpa!" He bursts out weeping and says "That does it. Next time, I'm going to Belfast like Mom wanted. I'll be safe there."

And lights.

My mission for tomorrow: figure out how to do this while I'm awake.


1. Just don't ask me why Boston makes me think of Philadelphia's hockey team. It made sense at the time, okay?

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