You want to hear about my dream last night?
I was in a huge airplane—humungous, bigger than any I’d ever seen—way back in steerage, and when I checked under my seat for my shoes, there was a gap big enough I could look right down into the cargo hole and there was nothing there but a gigantic tossed salad. Covered with dressing.
Guyland? That’s not the way it’s pronounced.
Sure it is. Long Guyland.
Only if the word in front of it ends in G and you live in New Jersey.
I was talking about your salad.
And I’m talking about ISLAND, not GUYLAND. And you’re telling me that you also saw a salad in the cargo hole the last time you were on an airplane?
That’s how long ago it was.
Before we were married.
When we still dreamed.
I thought you said you dreamed about the salad last night.
It’s a recurrent dream.
Maybe you grew up hungry.
I hated salads.
I hated flying. But why did you hate salads?
Eating in general.
I wasn’t supposed to bring a book to the table.
So we’re talking about your mother?
I think we were talking about dreams.
I don’t dream if that is what you’re asking.
You don’t remember them. That’s all. Everyone dreams. It’s part of what happens when we go to sleep.
And we don’t all read novels either.
I bet you don’t even remember the last novel you read.
Sure I do. Peyton Place.
That was fifty years ago.
You don’t need to read books because I tell you about the ones I read.
All right. So you expect me to listen again?
Didn’t you hear me laughing out loud?
I thought maybe you weren’t feeling very well.
I was feeling great. It’s You and Me.
No, that’s what it’s called: You and Me.
But it’s about us?
You could say that. You don’t get a novel this funny or profound very often.
OK, give me one sentence.
Let me get the book. I marked the ones I knew you’d like. Are you ready?
Ready as I’ll ever be.
“How long before we smell like old men?”
That’s it? That’s not so funny.
Wait for the punch line, all right? “Last year, dude.”
You’re telling me I need to use more deodorant?
I’m telling you you need to read this book.
Give me one more line.
“I miss my dog more than I miss my parents.”
Now you’re talking.
Not me. The writer. The fine dude I couldn’t stop reading. Or laughing. Or admiring.
Padgett Powell: You and Me
Ecco, 208 pp., $29.99
Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org