Today was very good.
I had a great breakfast. I sliced some mushrooms, shallots and zucchini really thin and then sliced the very thin cross sections of each into little ribbons. I had quite a lot of them. What those ingredients lacked in individual bulk, they made up for in aggregate volume.
And that was the plan.
I had an idea that a large quantity of very thinly sliced vegetable things, if seared in that brief, hot covered process that I find myself using in more and more ways, would constitute a wonderful flavor base for an omelet.
Once those things had been seared, and while they were still extremely hot, I poured in the beaten eggs (three eggs with some fromage Blanc added and beaten to a froth) and started pushing and lifting the combined components, letting the egg mixture form a pan shaped disk of nearly cooked egg. Then I covered it at low heat to let the top of the eggs steam to being more or less done. I don’t like runny omelets, and the steam cooks the top without browning it. Flipping the disk cooks the other side, but browns it. I think that is too cooked and not very artistic.
Then I folded the egg disk in half onto a warmed plate and, with some fresh baguette, a banana, a dish of fromage Blanc, a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee, had a great breakfast.
The rest of the day turned out equally well.
It was clear and sunny and picture taking was at its best. The crowds were down in size so walking was more pleasant than at times of maximum tourist congestion. I walked and walked and walked. I really didn’t pay much attention to where I was, had been or was going, so I had the adventure of seeing some new things. And I spent much longer at the walking than I would usually have done – somewhere near six hours. And toward the end of those six hours I was really hungry.
So I stopped when I got back to Rue de Rennes at Café du Métro for wine and onion soup. That supplied the energy for another hour of walking, looping back from Café du Métro, past Invalides and on to Avenue Rapp where I cut back to the river, past Pont d’Alma and back to Pont St-Michel.
By then Le Départ looked pretty good. And un pichet de rosé looked even better.
So I got back to the apartment much later than usual, much past dark, and more tired and more relaxed than usual.
A little glass of calvados seemed to be just the thing to celebrate the end of a great day.
I settled onto the couch and sipped the calvados and stared blankly at the dark screen of the television.
I may have drifted into entry level sleep or I may have accidentally dropped into a state of self hypnosis – there was a soft dripping from the slightly faulty toilet coupled with an unusual intermittent pulse of light coming in the casement. That light cast patterns across the space of the apartment in the gloom of the advancing evening. Either or both of those phenomena – the drip and the light - could have doused my hypnosis-prone consciousness into a state of almost, but not quite, being somewhere other than where I thought that I was.
Or I may have had some other sort of not-normal experience. I have a few times experienced a state that appeared, as I analyzed it later, to have been death, but which had not caused me to fade from existence. Or it could have been any of the - I expect there must be - infinite number of other states of existence or near existence that living creatures must slip in and out of upon occasion.
From this state - whatever it may have been - after some lapse of – dare I say, time - I found myself to be roused, or at least so I thought at the time.
I gradually became aware of, on the floor, an oddly oscillating pool of light that seemed as if it must somehow be related to the pulsing light, which, in unison with the dripping toilet, may have put me into my then-newly-emerged-from state.
But in opposition to that apparent accounting of its genesis, that light on the floor seemed markedly different from that outside source of hypnotic pulsing.
It was more of a static multi-colored mixture than an on and off blinking illumination. It had great similarity to that light that seems to exist behind the door outside my apartment.
In the center of it was a mouse.
Croissants and baguettes are enormous sources of crumbs. Unless one runs the vacuum every day after breakfast – which I do not - one quickly produces quite a scattering of, what - I now could see to be the case - mouse food. The creature was oblivious to my presence. It sat on its haunches – I had never seen a mouse do that except in Disney movies – and happily shoved crumb after crumb into its mouth. I also had never seen a mouse use its paws as hands, but this one was using its paws as hands. I also swear I thought I heard it softly humming a rather catchy, almost familiar tune.
Could it be “Greensleeves”?
I kept deadly silent. This was such an interesting scene that I just wanted to sit and absorb it for awhile.
The mouse finished a crumb, wiped its mouth – again its paw/hand being deployed in a human-like manner - and, looking at me, said, “You know that she is waiting for you, don’t you?”
Without skipping even the halfness of a heartbeat in the service of common sense or reason I responded, “Who is looking for me?”
The mouse straightened up from its rather hunched over posture on its haunches, stretched its front legs – I almost said arms – toward the ceiling, emitted that happy kind of sound that humans make when they have just had a good stretch, and brought its arms – I mean front legs - back to what I would call its lap if it were human; it looked at me for a moment. The look, I swear, projected a sense of friendliness and familiarity, combined with something else. Could that something else have been mild disgust? Do mice have that emotion to be registered in their facial expressions? Do mice have facial expressions?
“You have always called her Adrianna” he replied.
And he looked at me. He looked at me as if he expected me to respond in some meaningful way to his last two statements: “you know that she is waiting for you, don’t you?” and “You have always called her Adrianna”.
“Great”, I thought to myself. “Now you know that she’s waiting for you and that you have always called her Adrianna. Now, if only I knew who ‘she’ is - regardless of who ‘she’ is waiting for, or what I have always called ‘her’ – or for that matter if I only knew why I am sitting here listening to a talking mouse telling me all of this, it might begin to sort itself out rationally. But I doubt that that is going to happen.”
As I have gotten older, the numbers of dreams that I experience have increased beyond imagination. And their richness, complexity and clarity have all increased. And that richness, clarity and complexity have made for so many bizarre things that I have seen and places that I have been that I can’t begin to count those things or those places. And, as is always the case with dreams, I can’t remember any of them after the fact except at a high thematic level with occasional flashes of lingering components. But they never last in any substantial form.
But this one is different.
This one has remained clearly etched in my memory. I have been able to write it here with no loss of clarity. Everything is sequentially sensible without any of the thematic fadings and changings that always are integral to dreams. The events can be described with a rational time line and, a start, a middle and a finish. And the mouse stays the mouse and I stay me and the things we say to each other remain the same from start to finish. Try as I might to make it become like all my other dreams, this one remains as clearly and rationally recountable as I have described it. All one needs to do is to accept a talking mouse as reality and the whole thing hangs together just fine, leaving, of course the questions of what the mouse’s message might have meant.
I remember everything utterly clearly. It won’t fade.
So maybe it really happened. I don’t know what it means or what I am supposed to do with it. I guess I need to include it with the increasing inventory of bizarre occurrences that are accumulating.
But that is not a comforting feeling.
I should mention that the dream, or encounter, or hallucination, or whatever it was, didn’t end at the point to which I have described.
There was more.
“Who have I always called Adrianna?” I asked.
The mouse looked at his feet – he was still sitting human-like on his haunches – kicked at a crumb, sending it skittering under the refrigerator, and gave me a long doleful look in the eyes.
“She is the one you have lost so many times” is what he said.
And then he said “we’ll be in touch” and he faded back into some part of the gloom from which he must have come.
But, just before he had completely made his exit, as he was fading from sight, I fairly shouted “what is your name?”
He stopped short of being gone, looked back at me and said, “I thought you were never going to ask”.
“Well I have asked; so what is your name?”
“You have always called me Moustache, but my name is Jacques.”
And then he was gone.
I stared at the now vacant space so recently occupied by a mouse that I had been informed – by the mouse - that I had always called Moustache, but who was – I had also been informed by the mouse - really named Jacques. I couldn’t help but wonder about the state of my mind.
The obvious questions were the first to die: had I dreamed this? Was I hallucinating? If I was hallucinating, why was I doing so?
And they went on and on and on and on.
The reason those first questions were first to die was that, while the mouse had been talking to me, he had also been twirling a lock of his hair (mice, have hair, apparently, like humans, on their heads) and, just before he departed, he twisted once too many and a tiny twist of mouse’s head hair fell to the floor.
It was there on the floor after, what might have otherwise been rationalized into having been a dream – the encounter with the talking mouse - had ended. It was a mute, but undeniable testament to the fact that what I thought had happened had, indeed, happened.
I picked it up and put it in one of the plastic window envelopes of my wallet.