Dreams of Mendelssohn, Cash


I like to periodically take stock of my dreams. They don’t come often, but when they do, I become aware Felix Mendelssohn and I have something in common — we both have midsummer night dreams.

While his dreams are classical, my dreams are more mystical, like “Moon River,” “Where a lazy stream of dreams and vain desires forget themselves in the loveliness of sleep.”

My nocturnal visions appear for no logical reason, unfolding in a mystifying manner, and often leave as gently as they came.

It was 6:31 in the morning in June when I had a dream. “Frank Henico!” I shouted as I saw my old boss and four of my former co-workers walk through the door. I had not seen any of them since 1972.

“Let’s go to breakfast!” Frank said.

We crossed the busy street and entered a small diner tucked away in the back of the shopping center. It felt good to be back with my old friends.

We noticed one of our middle-aged co-workers was dressed like Herb Tarlek, the radio salesman on the old television show WKRP. He was wearing a plaid patterned, polyester, leisure suit, cinched with a wide white belt, topped off with white shoes.

He flirted endlessly with the young waitresses, constantly asking them for their phone numbers. He told us how he would visit the Ponderosa Steakhouse and hide seven or eight pats of butter under his napkin when he knew full well only two free pats were allowed.

He was bragging loudly to us around the table that he liked to ask the waitress for a dinner menu item if he was eating breakfast, or order a breakfast item if he was at dinner.

He decided he was going to fluster the waitress this morning. As she approached the table, we immediately realized she was different. She wasn’t young and vulnerable like most of the others. She was a salty, no nonsense type. She reminded us of Selma Diamond from “Night Court,” with her high-range, raspy voice.

We saw trouble coming. Our friend gazed thoughtfully at the menu for several minutes before looking up and asking, “Do you have red snapper?”

“Yes, but you’ll never see it, at least here for breakfast,” she retorted.

My wife Brenda shook me and said, “Pat, you are laughing in your sleep. Wake up!”

The red snapper dream was my last until this past Sunday. I had awakened at 5:30 a.m., but lay in bed quietly. Sleep returned swiftly.

In my dream, Brenda and I were at the Cincinnati Zoo. The year was 1996. We were sitting in a large open area on small folding chairs, when we saw a tall man dressed in black standing on stage with his back to us.

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” the man announced to wild applause and whistles as he turned toward the crowd. Johnny began to sing, but suddenly stopped and announced his base guitar player, Luther Perkins, was feeling ill and needed to leave the stage.

“Is there anyone out there who can play Luther’s style of bass?” Johnny asked the crowd. My wife stood up and yelled, “My husband can!”

“Let’s get him up here,” Johnny said, to a loud roar from the crowd. Brenda then gave me a big shove, and I reluctantly climbed the stairs to the big stage.

“What’s your name, son?” Johnny asked with a slow drawl.

“Roy Ferrell,” I said nervously, not wanting anyone to know my real name. Johnny handed me a big Fender electric bass and told me to stand over there. The music started, but I didn’t. Johnny was a few bars into “Understand Your Man” when he stopped the band again. “What’s the matter, son?” he asked.

“I don’t know how to play a guitar at all,” I replied sheepishly, with sweat pouring down my forehead.

“Then why did your wife say you could play the bass guitar?” Johnny asked in his low, gravelly voice. “That’s embarrassing, son.”

“I don’t know. She did that to me a few months ago in a dream with Andrea Bocelli in New York City at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She told him I had a beautiful voice and he asked me to sing a duet,” I answered.

“I understand. I’m a married man,” Johnny said as he left the stage.

Then mercifully I woke up. The dream had ended.

“I have the weirdest dreams,” I said to Brenda. “I wish I didn’t have them.”

“I’m glad you have them. Remember what Clint Eastwood said in the Bridges of Madison County?” she asked looking bemused. “The old dreams were good dreams; they didn’t work out, but I’m glad I had them.”

“Yeah, but I’m not Clint Eastwood,” I said.

Brenda laughed and I could see a dreamy look in her eyes as she turned and left the room. She never looked back.

Pat Haley is a Clinton County commissioner.

Pat Haley
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By Pat Haley

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