We go to a Japanese restaurant, myself and five friends.
We all order the same dish, a mixed seafood salad.
The salads arrive and they are quite a sight to behold−enormous bowls filled with seafood of all varieties: shrimps, clams, octopi, squid, salmon slices, fish heads, sea horses.
There is only one problem, a minor one to be sure, but a problem nonetheless: there is one item missing from the salad of one of my friends, the man directly to my right.
All of the salads except for his contain a rather large squid head, acting as a sort of garnish, in the center of the bowl.
I call the waiter to the table, to alert him to this discrepancy.
I explain the problem of the missing squid head and the waiter says, "I will correct this."
I assume that the waiter will take the salad in question back to the kitchen and replace the squid head, but he does not do this.
Instead he starts to shift food around from salad to salad, taking a shrimp from one bowl, a salmon slice from another, mixing the salads up in a seemingly random fashion.
"What are you doing?" I ask the waiter.
"I am correcting the situation by making all things equal," he says.
"That's not what I had in mind," I say. "You should be getting my friend another squid head."
At this point the waiter begins to get angry, raising his voice. "Are you telling me how to do my job?"
My friend, preferring to avoid further difficulties, says to me, "Listen, the squid head's really not that important to me. Why don't you just drop it?"
"It's a matter of principle," I tell him.
Meanwhile the waiter is continuing to mix up the salads, completely destroying the integrity of any individual salad.
"You're making a mess of everything," I tell the waiter.
"You think you know everything, don't you?" says the waiter.
"All I know," I reply, "is that five salads came with a squid head, and one came without it."
After a short silence the waiter looks me straight in the eyes and says, "One missing squid head! And to you that constitutes a majority?"
This was the opening piece in my pamphlet of dream stories, Between a Dream and a Cup of Coffee (1987). Copies are still available.