[Dream sequence, 30 October 2014]
Third-world hellholes conform to no specification but one: for the well-to-do, they aren’t particularly hellish. So when I found myself a guest of The Only Really Nice Hotel In Town — “four stars,” said the guy down the street who sells Michelin tires — I had to wonder why, since I’m about as patrician as dirt, and not the fertile, loamy stuff for which you pay extra at the nursery either. Still, everyone seemed to know my name, and there was this one twelve-year-old girl who fancied herself in love with me, something that never happened when I was twelve, you may be absolutely certain.
It was difficult finding all my personal effects, which seemed to be scattered among several cubbyholes on the ground floor, though my car was neatly garaged. Weirdly, they had room for exactly four cars, though TORNHIT boasted nearly a hundred rooms. Everyone was just as deferential as they could possibly be, and I was growing increasingly puzzled when a lanky lad, I guessed twentyish, offered to show me something of considerable interest.
So we walked along the not-quite-ruined avenue, and within a couple of blocks we’d come upon an old-style record store: they had CDs of some current stuff along one wall, but the big draw was good old fashioned vinyl.
“Isn’t this great?” said the kid, gesturing toward a different wall.
I stared in disbelief. The titles were extracted from my old mix tapes, the artwork was similar if a tad jazzed up, and the biggest print on the jacket was reserved for my name. Despite my debatable command of the local language, I could make out the ad pitch: Own Them All! At least fifteen different titles were on display, and a few more were in a rack on an adjacent corner. We’re talking gatefold packages, 180-gram vinyl, the works.
“Of course, you have all these already,” said the kid.
I nodded. “Of course.”
The store owner saw us, rushed to our side, and some electronic device somewhere began serving up a track from the newest release. It didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before, let alone actually assembled. It was jagged, yet somehow mellow; it was scary fast, but somehow soothing. (Closest equivalent in the “real” world: a Taylor Swift cover of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.) “It’s the best thing you’ve ever done!” said the storekeeper, not softly enough; in a matter of seconds we were mobbed.
When we got back to TORNHIT, a small number of fans had gathered to get my autograph on their copies of “my” records. Why they hadn’t done this at the store, I don’t know: inadequate planning, perhaps. Still, it was entertaining to interact with the fans, though I had to fake my way through a lot of answers that I simply didn’t know.
And then came dinnertime, and I discovered that I had misplaced — or that someone had appropriated — my white dinner jacket. “They’ll never know the difference,” I persuaded myself, and if indeed they did, well, they didn’t say a word.