You could have been forgiven for thinking, rolling out of bed at half past one Sunday afternoon, that this Sunday was like any other. It certainly had started like any other. Despite all your protestations the night before that you’d wake up at a decent hour, you had hit the snooze button when the alarm went off at 9 o’clock. That was wishful thinking anyway. 9 o’clock? On a Sunday? God no. You remember the only reason you had set that alarm was to better prepare yourself for the next one anyway, and that wasn’t due to start chiming blissfully for another hour. With that thought in mind, and the confidence that you’ll most definitely be ready to wake up an hour from now, you go back to sleep. Just as soon as it seems you’ve settled into a dream (something about gelato) the persistent chiming of your phone steals the cone of delicious Italian ice cream right out of your hand.
10 o’clock is awfully early to be getting up on a Sunday you think, anyway in your wisdom you’ve set three alarms, this one is only the second and as such, it’s designed more so as an indicator. Flashing yellow lights read “one nap remaining” as you drift away again, back to dreamland. The Italian ice cream has been replaced with something else now… namely Heidi Klum, and she’s in your room wearing nothing but perfume! The two of you start getting it on, a soundtrack by Seal playing somewhere in the background which doesn’t strike you as strange at the time because you’re preoccupied with Heidi since she’s-
The phone bleats in your ear, the red light flashing “nap over” as you realize it’s 11 o’clock. You couldn’t care less right now, you just want to get back to Heidi and, uh… Seal. You start to wonder what ever happened to that marriage anyway. If they failed, surely anyone can… Thinking about this isn’t the way to get back into bed with Heidi but it’s too late, you’re already getting sucked into the first pages of sleep and you can’t stop reading now. Worse yet, you find yourself in an old Parisian apartment, which wouldn’t be all that bad really, except you recognize it as being from the Austrian film Amour which you just suffered through last night. You look around the corner and see the character played by Emmanuelle Riva and she’s on her feet! Not bed ridden and muttering like she was for that film’s last 5 hours but happy and singing in the kitchen while making coffee! All of which means, god help you, that you’re here before she suffers her inevitably tragic stroke… You’re stuck in the first 5 minutes of a seemingly endless lecture on the fragility of life and eventual advocacy for euthanasia (which you already endorse anyway)! And worse yet you really are stuck now… in her apartment! Does that make you her husband played by French actor what’s his name? Oh god, that means you have to put up with her until the film ends… Or at least until you smother her with a pillow to alleviate your, I mean her, suffering. You look over at her again singing by the Nespresso machine the producers have managed to neatly blend into the surrounding kitchen appliances. She looks happy now but in a little while you know she won’t be… You wonder whether euthanasia is still euthanasia if you “minority report” it. That seems like a fine line to you, and already you’re getting so much flak from your dream’s critics for even thinking it… It’s a movie for god’s sake… a movie playing out in a dream. More like a 18-hour long public advocacy spot looping over and over in a nightmare set in a retirement home for rich French couples, but regardless, what would Heidi think? She’ll never come back if you euthanize the old lady… Or if she does, it’ll be in the form of the scolding headmistress from… gasp! Heidi. Or maybe that was the other Shirley Temple movie… But either way, you haven’t even got to the “oh, I’m still in bed and miserable” part yet! There’s so much moaning and groaning left to go! You can’t take anymore. You push against something, a false wall in the apartment’s study perhaps, and you hear what sounds like a female voice saying, in Spanish, “Open your Eyes” and suddenly your eyes open and you’re free, out of the nightmare! It’s not exactly a dream either, Penelope Cruz wasn’t the one telling you to open your eyes but at least it wasn’t Tom Cruise from the remake. Rather, it’s your phone again, apparently having taken on a life of its own.
You look at the screen and- bloody hell- it’s one o’clock! You had important things to do today! You were going to be productive! You were going to write! If only you hadn’t stayed up until 4 o’clock the night before watching that dreadful Austrian film about love. More like a love letter to an old withered redwood and about as interesting… and as long. Since it’s on your mind, you decide to write your thoughts on it, here, in the hope that by putting it on paper, or…ummm, Microsoft Word, you’ll rid yourself of it forever. You’re shivering as you write it, cold despite the little heater next to you and the Seal music playing on the… hey, wait a minute! You turn, noticing only now that the TV is on. Seal is singing about being Crazy. That’s one of your favorite songs. It’s true. Yet you are confident in your sexuality. You just like Seal… his music that is. And good for you! Why not? Apparently it’s some kind of Italian Seal marathon, because that Batman song starts playing. You can’t remember the name of it. You’re too busy thinking about Italian seals. “Were they ever here?” you wonder aloud, to no one in particular. “Perhaps in an ice age,” you reply. You look at the computer screen, the word document you have pulled up consists of only one paragraph, and most of it is ellipses, which is what you’d like to think when in reality they’re really just dots; dots supposedly representing what you can’t with words. Seal is distracting you. You turn him off, leaving him to serenade a group of Italian seals somewhere in your imagination. You start writing your thoughts on that deceivingly and arrogantly titled film called Amour but find you can’t write in anything but the second person. That strikes you as rather odd, but at least you’re writing words and not leaving series of punctuation everywhere. An hour later you’re finished. You’re still thinking about Heidi and Italian seals but the former isn’t coming back and the latter never existed in the first place… or maybe it’s the other way around… you’re not sure. Suddenly an idea hits you from a word you’ve written on the screen. Gelato. The first dream can still be realized!
You get dressed in a hurry, which is to say you put on your shoes. Your pajamas are fashionable enough for the Italian world outside. Burgundy and Navy Blue stripes. At least you think that color’s burgundy. You google “burgundy” just to be sure. The first hit is the region in… France. Where old people smother one another with pillows far, far too late in life. The second hit is the color. “Burgundy is a dark red color associated with the Burgundy wine of the same name, which in turn is named after the Burgundy region of France.” Damn it!! “The color…” You can’t go on (anyway, you’d have to click into Wikipedia to read the rest, and you don’t want to do that. You’d be on there all day until, non-existent bells chiming the four o’clock morning hour, you’re reading about how to raise a seeing-eye puppy. You’d have got (you use the third form of “got” in British English for some reason… the British and French never did get along…) there by clicking a link off an article on Jakarta because, well, Southeast Asia has the world’s highest percentage of blind people, as you learned earlier. Except, no, you never did, because you never clicked on the link of the second hit returned from the search “burgundy” that you input because you were ignorant as to what color burgundy actually was because you wanted to feel that you looked fashionable enough in your pajamas to not have to bother changing because you’re really eager for gelato to cure the depression love has put you into. More or less.) so you leave your laptop open, lock the door behind you to ensure it is still there when you get back, and walk down the street to your favorite gelato place.
The staff knows you here (you eat a lot of ice cream) and you try out your feeble, still developing Italian full of ciaos and molto benes and gustos. The friendly guy-girl tandem behind the counter take turns popping out behind one another like Oompa Loompas and asking various questions; “What’s panna?” and you answer correctly “cream,” so that in the end everyone’s happy. You’re happy because you correctly identified a word in Italian and they’re happy because, well, they got to talk with you. You wonder perhaps if this is a bit arrogant on your part, but you do live on a street called Narciso. You get so carried away thinking of the artistic possibilities of a story about a man based loosely on yourself who lives on a street called Narciso that you forget all about the original question except to now consider it as a characteristic of a potential future character. You walk under the old archway signaling your entrance into the historic centre and notice a crowd of people streaming into the cathedral. It being lent, you imagine that the priests are quite busy receiving confessions from all those who’ve strayed from the righteous path and are consuming meat on Fridays. As you approach the rustic looking cathedral with its clanging bell drawing you toward inward contemplation you realize that you’re still feeling a bit guilty for wanting to smother that old woman with a pillow before she’d even had the stroke yet. Since you’re here, it might be worth going in to confess. Even though you’re not catholic, or a shareholder in any religion actually, you could at least go in and have a look. It would be something productive anyway. You could stand making your Sundays a bit more productive. You finish your gelato and step inside.