Caught Out by Catching Up

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's been six weeks or maybe longer since I've spoken with my sister Claire, and now she's on the phone, and I've got her voice blaring via Bluetooth through my car stereo speakers, so she sounds like a radio talk show host. I'm at a red light headed into the parking garage where I hold a permit. As soon as I enter the garage, my cellphone service will cut off, I'm telling Claire, so we have to hurry-talk, hurry to fill each other in on six weeks' worth of news.

"Hurry!" Claire says. "Okay, we have to sum up. We each have to think of one event that says it all. You go first."

"No, you," I say. (I can't think of anything.)

"You are wasting time!" she says. (She can't think of anything.) "Just use the first thing that comes to mind, the first event that makes you think: Yeah, that about sums up my life."

"This is a lot of pressure," I say, in one breath, and in the next I land on something. "Okay," I say. "Last night I dreamt all night long -- not one dream, I'm talking, like, 10 separate dreams -- about napping."

"You dreamt about sleeping?" Claire says.

"Every dream was a desperate journey to a napping place," I report. "A shelf in a store, a locker room bench, the back seat of a car."

"Wow," she says. "You are having sleep fantasies, in your sleep. This is probably big."

"In the last one, I was curled up on a church pew with a coat over my head, and a priest woke me up and forgave me but said I had to leave."

"Oh my, oh my, oh my," Claire says. "You are using up all our time."

"Well, that's the end," I tell her. "It's all true. I think you get the basic theme?"

"Got it," she says. The traffic light has turned green, but there's a big moving van that can't fit into the parking garage, so the driver just got out, and now he's talking to some garage people. This is good because it gives me more time with Claire, but bad because I'm going to be late for a meeting. What are those guys talking about? What could there possibly be to negotiate about a van not fitting into a garage?

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