Young Pete: The Dream
I’m sure the Vicodin was responsible for this dream I had the other night.
In the dream I was told that a film about my childhood was in the works and that I was supposed to meet the actor who would be playing me as a seven-year-old. The meeting was to occur at an outdoor café. I was sitting at a table, waiting, when I saw the kid approaching. I was disturbed to see that he was wearing a yarmulke. He didn’t look Jewish, however. Actually, he looked a lot like Jay North in “Dennis the Menace.” An orthodox kid who looks like a goy, I thought–this has possibilities. Still, I couldn’t make peace with the yarmulke thing.
“There’s a problem,” I told the director. “I didn’t wear a yarmulke as a kid.”
“Don’t worry,” the director replied. “We can shoot around it.”
When I was a kid I had dirty-blond hair and I didn’t look particularly Jewish. My family was totally secular. We never went to synagogue. I did, however, have a bar mitzvah, which was essentially a secular ritual in my non-religious culture, an excuse for a party, all trappings aside. It was during my quickie bar mitzvah lessons with Mrs. Goldstein, our local Evelyn Wood of painless Haftorah prep, that I became a resolute atheist, too late, however, to cancel the big event at Leonard’s of Great Neck. So naturally the adult me in the dream was horrified by the prospect of being portrayed by a kid in a yarmulke.
I did want to give the kid a chance, so I started chatting with him. He turned out to be incredibly bright, charming and witty. He reminded me of myself as a kid. I was starting to like him. Still, there was the religion thing. I knew I couldn’t get him to renounce Judaism, but I figured if I could at least get him to put down other religions I’d be somewhat placated.
“All right, you’re an orthodox Jew,” I said, “so I guess you believe in god. But I’ll bet you think all other religions are pretty ridiculous, right?”
“Not at all,” the kid replied. “I think there’s much to admire in all the world’s religions. In fact, I think we should all try to emulate Jesus Christ.”
This was not going to work. As much as I liked the kid I was sure he didn’t possess the requisite irreverence to pull off a convincing portrayal of me as a child.
At any rate, I woke up before I could find out whether he succeeded.