Dope Slap

The prompt: Describe a non-verbal gesture “Slap your forehead”
Start the piece with “In the dream, you were…”


In the dream, you were slapping your forehead. The stupidity of your friend’s statement had totally thrown you. Somewhere in there was Newt Gingrich, and Fox News, and the idea that it must be true because Bill O’Reilly told him it was a no-spin zone.

You woke in a cold sweat. There are times when dreams can be too real. You expected to see Bill O’Reilly sitting in the corner with that bland blank look on his face, like he was saying “Who, me?” Your buddy would be sitting beside him, nodding to you and pointing sideways at Bill.

You drag yourself out of bed, get a glass of water, pee, go back to bed, and contemplate the last time you ever read of someone peeing in a novel. It just doesn’t happen. You would really appreciate it if some main character, not necessarily the protagonist, said in a conversation, “Excuse me, I have to pee. I’ll be right back.” That leads you off into other things not mentioned in writing, such as picking your nose or sneezing. When was the last time anyone put gas in their car in a novel? Or sat down with a sandwich at their desk?

You drift off, and you are on the set of Dexter, the TV show, and you’re coaching Dexter on how to be psychotic. “Not like that!” you say. “You can be functionally psychotic and still get the job done when you have to go off. Give your girlfriend a kiss. Don’t sweat every time you see a bad guy. Do your job and don’t act like you have something to hide every episode. Keep that up and you’re going to get caught. Hire me, I’ll show you.”

You sleep, and there is no sign of Bill O’Reilly.

In the morning, you roll out of bed, pee (see, if I can do it, you can do it!), take a shower and get dressed for the day. Your buddy is down at the coffee shop waiting for you, and you play it cool. No need to advertise the functionally psychotic thing. The conversation goes toward the government shutdown, and suddenly he’s back in your face blaming the Democrats for not negotiating in good faith. The functionality of your slight disorder heads for the surface, but you just laugh at him and pass it off as a silly statement. Back on track.

Back to work. You’re on top of a ladder, and suddenly Newt Gingrich pops back into your head. Out, out, damned Newt, you think. That paintbrush slips just a little, and you curse all base, brutal and bloody conservatives.

You know, you’re getting pretty tired of this second-person point of view. You wonder, I wonder, if anyone else carried on this long with the farce of writing about yourself to your face. You fool.

I’ll just step out here and let all you in TV land, or reading land, or whatever you call your planet, that this isn’t the easiest thing to do. If you think you can do it better, put down the remote, or the laptop, or manuscript and step over here to show me how it’s done. I’ll gladly surrender the hot seat to ye of little faith. Not you, Newt, sit down and suck on your thumb a little bit. If O’Reilly needs remedial thumb sucking lessons, you’re the one to give them. You old pro, you.

My editor just stuck his head in the door and told me not to talk to the reader. It’s like Batman on TV turning toward the camera and telling you that he knows that this is all a show, and he hopes you’re enjoying yourself. So much for the veil of imagination.

So, here I am now, having deftly changed the point of view, and I realize that I have a hand print on my forehead from slapping myself yesterday. It seems like just twenty minutes ago. I’ll have to go around all day pointing out to people that I am such a deep thinker that I slap myself out of self-realization all the time, and I’m actually thinking of getting a hand print tattooed on my forehead just to avoid the trauma of slapping myself so much.

My friends will understand, but it still seems like everyone is talking about me behind my back. Sometimes my buddy does it in front of my back, and I have to laugh that defensive laugh that I do, you know the one, that nervous one tinged with tears and regret. I’ll get back at him by being right.

Here I sit, and I wonder, what if you’re dreaming and you slap yourself in the forehead. Would you wake up with a hand print on your forehead? Sort of like dreamland stigmata. If you dream of being crucified, would you wake up with holes in your hands and rope burns on your ankles? Jesus, where did that come from?

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