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Dreams of Captain America
April 14, 2000

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I dreamt I was Captain America, last night.

It was me, but it wasn't me, really. I was Captain America. Oh, I didn't wear the costume or carry the shield. Nothing about me said Captain America, but people knew who I was when they saw me.

I was on the run. I'm not sure why, but it meant ducking from elevator to elevator, losing myself on multiple floors of a tall hotel. I often have dreams in tall apartment buildings or tall motels, where elevators are the primary mode of transportation. Often I'm chasing or being chased in them, but it's never dangerous. I'm never that worried about being caught. I'm too clever. And sometimes we just live there.

This was the same, except this time I was Captain America. And whoever was chasing me couldn't compare. The building was art deco, and the rooms were cool and air conditioned.

During the dream I was on a subway, still being chased, the flickering lights on the outside. And it was cool. I remember thinking how cool it was, like I was watching a good movie about being chased, or a good movie about a Subway. Something like Risky Business, which had one of the coolest love scenes ever filmed on a train, in glimpses of flashes of light.

Somewhere in there, I was in one of the Hotel rooms, trying to get packed. And there was a night in the Hotel room. I wasn't Captain America then, and I think it was a convention. A dozen of my friends were in the room, including some I didn't recognize. But we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs, but the next day no one was there to pack but me, and there was tons of stuff like sleeping bags, and an entire seminar was taking place in the room, and people were trying to ignore me as I collected piles of books and computer junk and Con kibble.

I wasn't Captain America then either.

The only time I've ever been involved in a chase in a building with lots of floors was my Freshman Year Dorm, Myles Standish Hall at Boston University. One night, I left the room I shared with Andrew (my roommate for a rather tense time) while a bunch of guys were over, including Abbe, Matt, Charlie and a few others. I think this was before we got to be friends with Ernestine. For some reason I left, went down to the street, and walked to the nearest convenience store, which at the time was next to Brugger's in a brownstone. Both are gone now, Brugger's having moved a few doors down to a more building type building.

I bought a watergun there, took it back to the room, and nailed Andrew, then ran. Now, Andrew had an automatic watergun, as well as a ton of "commando clothes," since this was when he revered the military (before he joined it and learned better). He got fully decked out, and Matt and Abbe did too, grabbing what waterguns they could. And the chase was on, between floors and elevators, me staying just ahead of them.

Andrew caught me in an elevator and we went back to the room to drink celebratory soda. It was so successful an evening we spent eight hours the next day looking for automatic water weaponry like Andrew's, ultimately going to Woburn by way of Lowell on a train. We all bought water guns. I got a seriously cool Heckler and Koch Submachine Gun model. This was in 1986, when cool water guns were black, and made to look just like field artillery. Pretty soon, police in California started shooting kids carrying them, since they looked just like M-16's and other assault weapons, and the era of the Super Soaker began. But for then, we had fun with our water weapons. Mine was cool because it had two clips instead of one.

And yet, when we ran through the halls trying to shoot each other with the water guns, it wasn't as fun as that night before. And we didn't do it very often after that, save for a day that Andrew, Mike and I gunned down Matt in a gangland style shooting which was followed by Andrew saying "I think he's dead," in echo of an old Monty Python routine, and Matt being stupid enough to croak "No I'm not," in answer, then "Oh shit!" as we began hammering him with water again.

I didn't dream about water guns last night. None of us were armed as we went up and down the hallways and stairwells and elevators of this hotel. All I know is I was Captain America, and Captain America never loses.

Captain America was never a huge hero of mine. I was a Legion fan, going way back. Captain America was about as boring as Superman or Batman in those (seemingly innocent) days. You knew what he stood for. You knew who he was. The ideal physical speciman, thanks to a "Super Soldier Formula" and "Vita-Rays," he was Unbeatable. That's really his defining quality -- Captain America can't be broken. Sooner or later, he will come back and win. Sooner or later, he will prevail. That's who he is and what he does.

Kind of dull, in the comic book world. You want there to be room for catastrophe, you see, but catastrophe with Captain America is like saying America itself was flawed. Now, I can say that as a citizen in his thirties. Our culture can say that over and over again in a thousand different mediums. But you didn't say that in Captain America's comic. The flaws were in people, but the American Ideal, the American Dream was sacrosanct, and therefore Captain America had to always win. Period.

I dreamt I was always certain of my path, both through the hotel and in fleeing my pursuers. It was the right thing to do. I was clever and wise and agile and strong, and they couldn't keep up with me. And it was the right thing to do, of course -- I was Captain America, and my moral sense was absolute. If it weren't moral, I wouldn't have been able to do it.

I woke up to an alarm I didn't want to answer. I crawled out of bed and into a shower, then into the day. I was fat again, and none too agile, and none too healthy and certainly not sure of my path or my moral certitude. I took my morning medications and felt my morning nausea. The morning was cool, almost cold, but sunny and there were the start of buds on the trees. I went to work and I sat in my chair and did my job, where no one was chasing me and I was none too clever.

But I remember being Captain America.

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