Visions of Brown Sugarplums

Recently I dreamed of waltzing with Aretha Franklin. The setting was an old style dancehall, with a wide-open ballroom floor and stage. Tina Turner was supposed to be performing. I entered the hall from the lobby and the crowd parted. Aretha was standing there in the middle of the floor gesturing for me to come over to her. It was the early-80s, Who's Zoomin' Who/Freeway of Love-era Aretha. I realized she wanted me to dance with her. I felt a little self-conscious--the whole crowd noticed her motion to me and all eyes were paying close attention--but I figured I had no choice but to be respectful and honor her request. I joined her and we began to waltz. Nothing elaborate, just a simple waltz. I don't recall any music playing. The dream ended before I got a chance to see Tina.

The only time I've ever seen Aretha Franklin waltz was in a film I saw last summer with a middle-aged black crowd in Harlem. It was a collection of great R&B performances that someone had slapped together. In this particular clip, Aretha was onstage singing and James Brown suddenly stepped out from the wings. Suave as can be, he glided towards her and they touched hands. They embraced and began to waltz. At the exact moment the two of them touched, the audience around me began to scream with full-on hysteria, chanting, 'THE KING 'n QUEEN!! THE KING 'n QUEEN!! THE KING 'n QUEEN!!"

Following the waltzing dream, I thought how it was odd that, though I did occasionally have famous people in my dreams, I couldn't recall ever having had any previously that guest-starred famous black people. I've had several dreams of hanging out with Iggy Pop. Once dreamed of giving a hug to a weeping, middle-aged Kerouac as he magically started becoming younger in my arms. I remember as a small child dreaming of stooge Curly Howard inexplicably shouting the name 'MATILDA!' Even rarer, there has also been the occasional celebrity nightmare: In one I watched a youthful DeNiro screaming bloody murder and chainsawing his own face apart--And as a teenager, I had one where I was a male prostitute who was going to have to sleep with Joan Rivers.

My sister Cynthia is the one who had the best celebrity dreams (she went bowling with Alice Cooper once!)--And indeed, some of her most notable guest stars were black. And little. Prince drove her around in a pick-up truck, all the while playing his soon-to-be-released album for her. Another time, Sammy Davis, Jr. rescued her from a rural Ohio town filled with Satanists--she ran to him squealing "Save me Sammy! Save me!"

Ironically, one morning not too long after the dream of the Aretha waltz, I was riding the subway to work and just thinking random thoughts, when suddenly I remembered a dream I had back in 1987. I remembered my other black celebrity dream. Little Richard was trying to give me a haircut against my will.

 

- Wayne Marcus Lovan