A dream with Richard Nixon, Chicago and crabs

I just woke up from this dream and don’t know what to make of it:

Calvin and I were working as caretakers or maintenance men at the home of Richard Nixon. I have the sense he was not yet president or, if he in fact had already been president, he had not left that job in disgrace. He seemed happy. He smiled and laughed. He was a good boss. He wore Bermuda shorts and a plaid sport shirt with red in it.

We lived in a guest house by the pool. Several neighbors came over to apologize for missing a party. I was focused on moving a potted avocado tree to a new place on the opposite side of the pool but was having trouble with it. There were blossoms on the tree but they were pink. Even though I am pretty sure that avocado blossoms are not pink I am very sure that this was an avocado tree. I was having trouble moving it partly because it was heavy but also because its branches were tangled in those of another tree, possibly a magnolia.

Then I found myself on my first day of work as a Chicago bus driver. On my very first run, heading west on Chicago Avenue from around Dearborn, within only a couple of blocks of leaving the starting line (it seems strange now that my bus run began from a starting line and not from a “yard” or “barn” but it didn’t seem odd in the dream so maybe that’s how they do things in the Chicago transit system), I neglected to stop at a stop where a bunch of people were waiting for their bus. I saw them waving at me but drove right past them.

Then, having taken a wrong turn (another odd bit, since my run was a simple straight line on Chicago and would have required no turns whatsoever), I drove into a thrift store and barreled down the center aisle, managing not to hit anyone or knock over any racks of second-hand apparel. Once out the back door of the thrift store, though, I could not navigate the tight turn that would have been necessary to exit the area where the thrift store’s dumpster was kept.

So I left the bus, hearing the passengers yelling “Hey!” but ignoring them, and began running eastward on the sidewalk. I was in a hurry to get somewhere but the sidewalk was obstructed by numerous police officers engaged in the setting-up of air ducts, or possibly electric-eye security laser things such as one sees in movies about museum heists. I frequently had to duck and to leap past crouching cops as I made my way eastward on the sidewalk along Chicago Avenue.

Finally I reached Rush Street and turned left, but once off Chicago Avenue I was no longer in that city but rather in a warren of 1950s-era French alleys. I turned left and right and tried to retrace my steps, frustrated because I was eager to get somewhere—I’m not sure where.

I saw a red door at the top of a staircase and thought that door might lead somewhere interesting so I approached the staircase, only to find that most of the stairs were missing. Only every fourth or fifth step existed; otherwise there was just blackness. I managed, though, by holding the handrail and hopping energetically from step to step, to reach a landing and the red door.

Opening the door I found myself at the reception area of a seafood restaurant, a modern-day American seafood restaurant and not a 1950s-era French one. A hostess greeted me and asked me to follow her to my table. I do not recall being surprised to find Calvin already seated at the table, perusing the menu. His back was to the brick wall.

A server approached us and asked if we were having the crabs. “Oh, yes!” I said, because I love crabs. “Sounds good,” Calvin said as he closed his menu and handed it to the server.

A few minutes later the server—a pleasant young woman with her brown hair styled in a perky bob—arrived bearing a platter of boiled crabs. She said, “Let me show you how this works. You’re really going to like this because these are good crabs.” She picked one of them up. (I know now and knew in the dream how it works with crabs but this young woman was so friendly that I didn’t want to spoil her fun.)

She pulled legs and claws away from the crab’s body. “Now you pull back on this part of the shell—” she said as she pulled back on the shell. “And riiiiight under here—this is the best part—is where—”

She turned the crab over, examining it from every angle, but found no meat. We watched as she picked and poked, peeling away tiny bits of shell and membrane, in her search for meat, but she never managed to produce even the tiniest bit.

That is when I woke up from my dream.

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