The dream at the Drake

I had a dream the other night — I would have reported it sooner except I’ve been busy — that left me perplexed. It began with my entering the Drake Hotel in Chicago through its Walton Street door. That part didn’t strike me as odd — either in the dream or now — because I spent a fair chunk of my life in the Drake Hotel.

(Did you know that for a year in the 1980s I was a plainclothes security officer at the Drake and, during the installation of cable boxes, had occasion to enter almost every one of its 550 well-appointed rooms and suites? You didn’t? Well, I was and I did. It was during the cable box installation — I only accompanied the installers and didn’t do the work myself since I am not a cable TV technician — that Dr. Jonas Salk answered the door in his white boxer shorts. I knew he was in the hotel because he was on the MacArthur Foundation board and the Drake was where they met to decide how to give out their grants, but it surprised me when Dr. Salk answered the door in his skivvies. I excused myself and offered to come back later. “No, you can come in!” he offered. “We’ll come back, but thank you anyway, Dr. Salk,” I said. Years later, I met Dr. Salk’s son, also named Dr. Salk, and told him the story. “Yeah, that sounds like dad,” he replied with a smile. But I digress, which it is my right to do, given that this is my blog.)

Although I knew in my dream that I was entering the Drake Hotel, it didn’t look anything like the Drake Hotel. I can’t explain that part.

As I walked up a flight of steps, I noticed Don Rickles, in a tuxedo, heading out in a hurry. He had red hair but it was Don Rickles, all right.

“Don! Love your stuff!” I called to his back. He waved over his shoulder.

A wave of people followed Mr. Rickles, giving me the impression that a large gathering, possibly a conference or gala event, had just let out. The conference attendees or gala guests were not in formal attire. Perhaps Mr. Rickles had provided entertainment for the event.

I noticed Dick Cavett among the crowd, heading to the door. His hair was gray but otherwise he seemed to be a late-70s-era Dick Cavett. Then there was a blonde actress. My memory is hazy here but I’m fairly confident it was either Angie Dickinson or Hope Lange, again of a late-70s vintage.

Neither of these celebrity sightings titillated me much. But then I saw Gregory Peck advancing toward me. Or he wasn’t so much advancing toward me as heading out of the hotel on a path that took him fairly near to me. That titillated me. He was very tall (in the dream and in real life).

The easiest explanation for all this, given that I was late to the party at the Drake, and possibly not even invited to it, is that on some level of consciousness I’m feeling late to some other metaphorical party. But if it’s a party of dead people, even famous and entertaining ones, I think I’m just as happy not going.

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