Last night, with my wife out of town, I trundled off to bed early with my two-year-old in tow. Shortly after nine p.m., after every child's book had been exhausted and Luna's magic glow no longer lit up the now dark bedroom, I fell fast asleep beside my son, who was wedged firmly against my side, snoring away.
After a mostly restless night of sleep--primarily the result of a restless child searching for the proper rib into which to stick his perpetually moving left elbow--REM finally kicked in for me. And it began quite nicely.
"Did you hear?" An unidentified voice called out to me from somewhere in the corner of my dream sequence.
"Hear what?" I asked, as I continued walking through a sunny field nowhere in particular.
"He's gone! The Emperor is gone! He's fired McHale!" The voice called back.
I couldn't believe my ears as I turned with a half-stunned expression in the direction of my Aunt, who was now walking with me as I made my way out of a parking lot. Where, precisely we were walking, I could not say, but I could make out a surprisingly colder environment with wind chills decidely tugging at me from all angles.
As my Aunt, a dyed-in-the-wool Gopher fan and never-left-Minnesota Minnesotan slowed her pace, a frown crossed her face.
"Young man!" I shouted out to the first person I saw in my dream other than my Aunt. "Young man!"
The boy, who was wearing a pair of snow boots as his winter cap flopped slightly atop his smiling head, had been running on the sidewalk outside the parking garage through which my Aunt and I were now emerging. He immediately stopped in his tracks upon hearing my call. "Yes sir?" He politely replied.
"Could you tell me what day it is?" I asked, reaching into my pocket.
"Why everyone knows what day it is today, sir!" The boy gleefully shouted. "It is the day that McHale was fired!"
"Thank you. Indeed it is, young man. Inded it is," I replied, too weak from delerium to do anything other than toss the boy the shiny Susan B. Anthony dollar coin that could have only found its way into my pocket in such a dream sequence. "Thank you!" I suddenly mustered up the energy to shout to everyone who could hear.
My Aunt was non-plussed, however.
"How can you rejoice on such a sad day?" She scowled. "A fine man and a fine basketball mind has just been fired and you rejoice? That's sad," she lamented. "Give the man a chance to put together his team and then have your say," she said.
I was nearly apoplectic. "Give the man a chance? Let him build his team?" I asked. "Are you insane? Where is the evidence...?" I began, before controlling my rant, realizing that I was speaking to part of the Minnesota-initiated that was programmed to apologize for the short-comings of local sports franchises and to forevever call for giving the leaders of any failing franchise time to get things right.
I just shook my head, hoping that someone else might someday find a way to break through the miasma that had taken hold over my Aunt.
As my Aunt disappeared from the dream, I found myself walking down a street lined with children--mostly children who looked like grown adults--who were playing in deep snow with several unused basketballs half-buried at their sides. As I looked in their direction, they waved to me. "Did you hear the good news?" They all seemed to ask in unison. "McHale's gone!"
It was a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell winter painting. The children were frolicking in the snow, riding sleds, hurling fluffy snowballs at each other, and generally having a good time. "I never would have made that Garnett deal," one man-child called out to me. "Why couldn't we have had Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and given up all of our garbage?" Another carelessly let slip before realizing what day the day before today was in the dream sequence.
As I half-shook my head at the long run of mostly futility that the Wolves had suffered under McHale and half-rejoiced at at least the hope of a brighter future for the team, I felt a twinge in my side.
Sitting up in bed, I dislodged by son's leg from my torso and gently moved him to the center of the bed. Covering him with the down comforter, I made my way down the steps and to my office.
The time read three o'clock. I knew I had been dreaming, but it seemed so real. I had to check.
Turning on my desktop computer, I anxiously waited through the interminable and unnecessary bootup sequence of my PC before clicking my way to the internet. The cold weather sequences in my dream should have been ample foreboding of what was to come.
My initial instinct was to go to ESPN.com. Surely, if it had occurred, McHale's firing would be reported on ESPN, I reasoned. ESPN had no report of a McHale firing.
I bolstered my spirits by telling myself that it was too early in the morning and too recent of a story for ESPN yet to have the story. I held out hope as I moved on to Startribune.com. Alas, there was no "McHale Fired" story to be found there either.
I had lost hope and was more down in the dauber than I had been before going to bed, despite having long ago lost any meaningful hope of the Wolves ever again being even a potentially successful professional sports franchise.
Then, as I clicked off the computer and turned to flip off the light on my way back to bed, I caught a glimmer out of the corner of my eye. There, in the distance, but still visible, lay a shiny Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, just out of reach and half-way wedged under the quarter round that trimmed the office baseboard.
I don't know how that coin got there, I only knew it was there--I knew I was no longer dreaming. And I resolved to leave it there just to see if maybe my dream was more than a mere dream.
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