Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SCENES FROM A DANISH RESTAURANT

Last night I had the strangest dream (to quote the opening line of Matthew Wilder's 1983 No. 5 hit, "Break My Stride").

I was in Copenhagen visiting my friend Zena, who was living there short-term for work. The city was beautiful but desolate, nothing like I remembered it being when I vacationed there seven years ago (in real life). We arrived at Zena's building, which appeared somewhat squalid from the outside. She lived on the fifth floor, and when we reached the top of each staircase, we actually had to push forward a ramp, which allowed us to enter the floor and proceed. I didn't have high hopes for her apartment, but when we arrived at the fifth floor, I almost fell back and down in shock. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Zena had the entire floor; the rooms were huge, the kitchen more so, and abundant sunlight made it the most cheery-looking place I'd been to since I'd left my apartment in BA. "Pick whichever room you want and make yourself at home," Zena said.

After settling in, a process that must have happened off-screen (or rather, off-dream), we headed out to get breakfast. The streets were wide and barren; crossing them was like trying to make it from one side to the other of 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires, which is said the be the widest avenida in the world, in one green light. We got to our little breakfast nook and settled into one of the community tables. I turned away for one moment, and when I looked back at Zena, she was already digging into some amazing-looking omelet/tortilla concoction. That, I said out loud, wondering how Zena had gotten her food so quickly without even ordering it, is what I'll be having. I asked Zena what it was. Silence. Again, I asked. More silence.

Strange, I thought. After a few more rounds of this, I turned to the woman sitting across from me at the table. She was equally impressed by the dish, and together, we tried to get Zena's attention. Silence. Silence. Silence. I didn't understand why Zena was giving us both the silent treatment, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from experiencing that awesome-looking dish. I motioned to the waitress. "I'll have exactly what she's having," I said, motioning to Zena.

WHAT?!?!

There was nothing in front of her. "Zena," I pleaded, "what happened to your food? I want to order the same thing." Silence. "She's on the phone," the waitress said. "She can't hear you." I inspected Zena closely, even using X-ray vision to gaze into her eardrums (the dream's one foray into visually surreal Escher territory). She did seem to be in the middle of something, but it was unclear what that might have been. She wasn't reading anything, and there was no headset communication apparatus attached to her ears. I tried to explain what Zena had ordered, but the waitress had no idea what I was talking about. (Strangely, everyone spoke perfect English without a hint of an accent.) I turned to the woman who was sitting across from me for some divine intervention. She had no idea what I was talking about either.

That's when I woke up. Stomach grumbling, head pounding, I looked out the window. It was morning, and I was back in BA. Slightly disappointed that I was no longer in Copenhagen and that Zena was a continent away in New Jersey, I got dressed and went out in search of breakfast.
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