Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003, 12:04 AM

Wonderful dreams and snoring neighbors

Last night I had an interesting dream. I had a car that was in a terrible accident. This was an old large car. One of those 70s or 80s models made in America. Anyway, the body was trashed. It looked like the thing had been rolled or used in some elaborate chase sequence on a television series like The Dukes of Hazard. In my dream I had a new girlfriend. We had fun spending the days walking everywhere in the bright summer sunshine or holding hands and laughing while riding the public buses since we were currently sans car.

It was impossible to get a hold of the guys at the body shop to ever find out the status of the repairs, so everyday we would take several buses and many miles of walking to arrive at the shop for an update. It seemed to me that the car was hardly being worked on. It was suspended from the ceiling by chains, for some unbeknownst reason, and appeared to be the only car in the garage. There were always four mechanics-three young guys and some mysterious 'Boss' who never came out of his office. It was very surreal because we never actually saw the boss directly. He had an office with an old-fashioned pull-down blind and was always silhouetted against it as though he was Alfred Hitchcock posing for dramatic effect.

In my dream I would be angered that it was taking so long and would be unhappy on the first leg of the journey home with my mysterious new girlfriend. That's another thing, I can't quite remember what she looked like. You know how it is in dreams where you kind of know exactly how the person looks and feels and smells but never have a clear picture in your mind's eye. She was a little shorter than me with fair skin and shoulder length brown hair and green eyes and skinny and had really soft hands, but I can't see her clearly and the harder I try the more abstract her image becomes in my memory. Almost as if Picasso is playing some bizarre optical trick her features deform and become grotesque and unrecognizable the more I try to see her. Anyway, this mystery girlfriend would always manage to bring my happiness back around before the first bus dropped us off at no discernable place on a straight road bordered by fields of blue and yellow and orange flowers growing close to the ground. We would cut across these fields, traversing the gently rolling hills where lone trees stood silhouetted against the azure skies and where clouds were certain to rend themselves to long cottony strands against the dark branches if only they sailed a little lower.

This process seemed to last the summer and into autumn and the trees were shedding their summer coats when we made a final trip to the body shop. By this point I had resolved to never use the car because of the magic kindled in my life and my relationship with the mystery girl that had been wrought upon us by the hours spent together walking and riding buses and playing silly buggers all summer long. That final trip brought me to the garage where my car was suspended like a side of meat from hooks in the ceiling. There was some twenty-something kid with the typical blue denim overalls with his head under the hood and a red hat on backwards to keep the rim from colliding with things as he worked. I told him that I needed to talk to the boss. He turned to one of the other twenty-something guys who sat picking at his nails with a pocketknife and told him to get the boss. This second kid shook his head and said that the boss wasn't going to like this and barked some orders to a third kid who was leaning against the doorjamb to the boss's office. So then the boss came out and he was the lead singer of Blues Traveler. He was wiping his hands on a red rag that looked considerably more soiled than his hands and said he was sorry the repairs were taking so long.

I told the boss that I didn't care and that he could in fact take as long as he wanted or even keep the car. He beamed at me and said that was the best news he had heard in months. Then he told the mechanic kids to get their instruments and they sat around singing one hit wonder songs from the 80s that drew crowds of black girls in from the street to smile and clap and dance around. And we all kind of laughed and sang along and I took the hand of my mystery girl and looked her in the eyes and told her that I loved her. She said "I know" and kissed me lightly on the lips and smiled and led me out of the store and into our field of flowers where we rolled down hills and got grass stains on the knees of our jeans.

And when I woke up alone in my bed I could hear the guy in the apartment above me snoring and I realized that the world outside was blanketed in half a foot of snow and it was below the freezing point of water. So I kissed my cat who was curled up beside my pillow and tried desperately to find the world of my dream so that I could linger a little longer before the harsh cry of the alarm signaled my return to the real world for another day.