I Dream of Phil Collins (and Raffi and Hash Browns)
Dream, early this moring:
The theater-in-the-round was bustling with noise. The people were coming in groups, so pockets of seats were filling up at a time.
I paced backstage. I was wearing pink and gray striped flannel pajama pants and white tank tap. I was freaking out.
"I can't do this."
"Yes you can. You did it once before." My sister was combing her out, Marcia Brady style, in front of a long dressing mirror.
"And I was awful. I can't sing. Get mommy on the phone."
I called my mother. "I'm not going on. Tell them to skip over me."
"OH yes you are. You are going on."
"Mom, how many times do I have to tell you? I can't sing!"
To drive home this point, I break out into song, it was a combination of God Bless America and Manfred Mann's Doo Wah Diddy. My voice cracked and pitched and faltered. "I told you, mom!"
"Hang on, let me get dad."
My father showed up two minutes later, holding out a cell phone.
"It's Phil Collins, he wants to talk to you."
I get on the phone with Phil. He says, "I know they told you that you can do it, but we both know you can't sing. Just walk away now."
I walked down the long hallway towards the concert hall. Raffi was on stage, singing his heart out about Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea. The half-filled audience was clapping in time to the music. I whisper into the cell phone, "Now, Raffi. He can sing!" Phil Collins laughed and I blurted out to him, "Oh my god I saw you in July of 1978 with Genesis that kicked ass!" It all came out like one long word. I wanted to ask him what happened between him and Peter Gabriel, but my father was there, grabbing the phone from me.
"Go on," he said. "It's your turn."
"I am NOT going on stage. I can't."
I looked out onto the stage, which was rotating slowly. When the stage front turned to me, I could see that the singing group was compromised of my family members. They were all in pajamas, singing "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" by Steely Dan. They were pointing at me, beckoning me to join them on stage. I ran back down the hallway and didn't stop until I went out the door of the theater, into the parking lot. Outside, there were stoners selling t-shirts and bumper stickers and nickel bags of pot. They all spoke like they were looking for a starring role in Dude, Where's My Car 2.
Phil Collins, Raffi and Russel Crowe joined me in the parking lot and we walked arm in arm towards the street, in search of a Waffle House and a huge order of hash browns.
I woke up to the sound of my stomach rumbling.