I am riding in the passenger seat of a car. Not just any car, but a Lada, a soviet-era knock-off of a Fiat.
Who remembers Glasnost?
A guy with a jelly stain on his head is the main dude in charge of an evil empire called the Soviet Union, or USSR for short. That’s not part of the dream. That was just the real world back when I had this dream.
So. It’s Glasnost (look it up, moron). I’m in this beater of a car.
I’m sitting in the front passenger seat. A chauffeur is chauffeuring. My mom is sitting in the back seat. She is chatting amiably (look it up, moron) with Mrs. Jelly Stain On His Head. That would be Raisa Gorbachev (Раи́са Макси́мовна Горбачёва, according to Wikipedia). A big, important woman back then.
We’re driving around, looking at the countryside. Checking out the soviet communal farmsteads rolling by our windows. Having a good time. Hanging with Raisa. Getting the full VIP tour.
Eventually, we come to a crossroad. Prominently featured at this crossroad is a modest hotel. If you are interested, it is a hotel my family stopped at for tea somewhere between London and Glasgow when I was 10.
We decide, not surprisingly, to stop and have tea.
I have spent most of my time in the car staring out the window, chillin’, not really thinking about anything or even listening to the conversation between the two heads-of-state in the back seat - my mother and Raisa Gorbachev.
We are now sitting in the dining room of the hotel. They have had to open it up, since it is actually past tea-time (who knew the Russians took tea?). Despite this, there are at least 12-15 women idly passing the late afternoon gossiping about the price of pork bellies, how to turn onions into vodka, or whatever else they might otherwise gossip about.
Much to my surprise, my mom. The most unassuming, quiet, and laid back mom I have ever known, is hard-selling all these women, including the internationally savvy Raisa. What is she selling? Mary Kay product.
That would be cosmetics manufactured, packaged, and sold by the pyramid-scheme/self-motivational-cult, Mary Kay, Inc.
(By the way, I had this dream years and years before I worked for the cult of Mary Kay Ash.)
Rosemary (my mom) was surprised at the huge amount of push-back she got from these ugly Slavic women. These women looked like poorly dressed potatoes with drinking problems. Couldn’t they see how much they would benefit from a make-over. For goodness sake, most of these women dressed in fall colors, despite having winter complexions.
My mother was undeterred, and forged ahead. This, too, was very unlike my mother.
Finally, it was time to go. But there was a problem. Unlike a typical English tea, our driver had seen fit to partake in a more colloquial pastime. Instead of a tea, he had had a vodka. Several, in fact.
The guy was no longer sober. To be honest, he had probably last seen sober many hours earlier in his rear view mirror, given it a wave, and decided, “that’s not for me.”
The guy was barely solid, never mind sober.
Raisa took one arm, I took the other, and we shuffled him out to the car. We poured him into the passenger seat where he immediately began to snore. Mrs. Gorbachev removed his chauffer’s cap, placed it on my head and said, “Now. Jew drive.”
How could I refuse? I began to make my way to the driver’s side of the car, but before I took two steps, Raisa cleared her throat and glanced meaningfully at the back door of the car.
I realized that in addition to driving, I’d been bestowed with all the duties inherent in chauffeuring her and my mother through the communist countryside. I hoped we would not encounter any Cossacks on our journey.
Finally, I found myself in the driver’s seat.
And this is where the dream got weird. Yes. I did say that. Up to this point, despite the soviet location, the drunk chauffeur, the first lady of the final soviet regime, and my mom selling Mary Kay® cosmetics, this dream has so far been fairly mundane. Nothing has tried to bite my head off, I’m not stuck in an endless pattern of repeating actions, I’m not driving a car through the panama canal, and geometric patterns aren’t trying to trap me in a crazy geodesic patterned prison. So, yes, this is pretty mundane.
But now we get to the weird part. I get into the driver’s seat and begin fumbling around for the controls. Everything seems weirdly unfamiliar. Sure, there’s a steering wheel, but I can’t find where the key goes, or how to shift it out of park. Despite being on the right side of the car (the left), I feel like I’m on the wrong side of the car (the right).
Now I don’t remember what side of the road I am supposed to drive on. I nudge the drunk chauffeur hard, but he is so drunk, all he can say is, “Не массируйте арбуз,” which apparently means “Don’t massage the watermelon.”
I finally give up and decide I’m on my own here. I grab the wheel and put my feet on the pedals. At least I try to put my feet on the pedals. There are no pedals.
There isn’t even a floor.
I think about this for a second, and then I put my feet on the grassy turf and push off. The soviets have mastered Flintstone technology. The car is powered by the foot.
I slowly drive off into the sunset of my dream.
Later, I awake with a very real and unique memory of the feel of newly cut grass beneath the soles of my feet.