You’ve ever been to a bowling alley? Where when you walk in, they have those long tables/bowling ball railings, then the seats circling around the control panel that runs the lane and the screen keeping score, then the ball return machines, and then the actual lanes themselves? And on the back side of those long bowling-ball-holder-tables, you’ve got the check-in desk and the snack bar (and if you’re lucky, the bar bar). You should. Because if you’ve been never been bowling in your life, I feel sorry for you, because there’s something uniquely satisfying about throwing a ten pound ball and hearing the sound of it slamming into pins.
I’m getting off point.
The point is…imagine that. Well, the front half: snack bar, bar bar, that tall shelf with all the shoes. And imagine on the other side of the long tables there’s just sand. A beach, actually, with water lapping up onto it, seagulls cawing, waves cresting farther out. And there are people on the beach doing, well, beach things. They’re tanning, playing volleyball, walking through the surf. But that’s only a handful of people.
Most of the others are playing video games. Because holographic screens are just hovering in the air, over the beach, and people are playing classic games. You’ve got Frogger, Galaga, Pacman. You’ve also got your less old but still classics like Final Fantasy and Halo. And there are even a few people playing current games like Red Dead Redemption 2.
So it’s a beach/bowling alley/arcade from the freaking future and I’m loving every second of it because I get to sit on a beach blanket with my toes dug into the warm sand while playing Tetris Plus because I’ve died and gone to heaven.
When I start getting heckled. Because if my dreams have a theme, it’s being heckled by others while I’m minding my own business. So these dude-bros (complete in their Hawaiian shirts, flip flops, and RayBan uniforms) come up and they want me to play Rocket League with them.
I decline, politely.
I decline, less politely.
They insist aggressively.
And then, out of nowhere, the main heckler gets smacked in the face with a volleyball.
He falls back, splayed out on his back, sand drifting down onto his chestnut hair from the impact of his fall. He’s not moving as blood gushes from his nose. His cronies circle around, freaking out, arguing whether they should move him or not. One, I notice, just flat-out leaves, and I decide he’s my favorite of the hated hecklers.
I turn to thank whoever smacked this guy in the face with a volleyball because I’m polite like that (see above, I declined politely and less politely so I’m all about politeness here) when I see who it is.
Do that thing where I rub my eyes to make sure, I don’t know, they’re on the right channel or something. Or I’m not seeing things. It happens in anime often enough that I guess my brain has picked up on it.
Nope. I’m not seeing things.
Barney the purple dinosaur, from my childhood, is standing in the volleyball court (is it called a court??) looking at me while the rest of his very human compatriots hoot and holler at his fantastic shot.
And Barney catches my eye.
We hold contact for a moment. Both of us staring at the other.
I give him a salute.
He gives me the head nod.
And I wake up laughing.