For a while after her hip surgery, my wife Kathi Kamen Goldmark, aka “Scratchy,” was on a steady diet of narcotics. One of the interesting side effects of these painkillers are the ideas that enter Kathi’s dreams in the middle of the night.
Not long ago I was shaken out of a sound sleep.
“Call Hollywood Now! I have a great idea for a new TV show,” Kathi said. “NCIS Cows!”
NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service. For those of you who aren’t familiar with NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles, these shows feature military cops investigating murder after murder after murder involving Marine and Navy personnel. To judge by these shows, the Navy and Marine Corps are infested with killers. If you are considering signing up, I would opt for the Air Force.
Kathi, her dilated eyes half open, thought NCIS Cows was a really great idea. “You could replace all the actors with cows!” she said. “Moo,” she added, by way of sample dialogue. “And chickens live next door in the ‘Chicken Shack.’ Tension ensues.”
“Great idea, sweetheart,” I said.
“Farting is methane acting,” she added, giggling. Then she went back to sleep. I was wide awake. Who wouldn’t be, after hearing something like this from his spouse?
Then there was the night Kathi woke me up to tell me her two grandmothers and two great aunts had visited her in a dream, all dressed in black, like they were there to take her away to the world beyond. This seemed a little scary to Kathi, and also confusing, since Grandma Clara was a fashion plate who would wear gem-tone colors with a matching purse, nail polish, and was never without her blue eyshadow. But the ancestors weren’t there to take Kathi away. Instead, they told Kathi they had a message for me.
“Tell Sam there’s a secret latch inside the cake, so when you jump out you won’t mess up your costume.”
“That’s it?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Kathi, who seemed a little disappointed by the pedestrian nature of the message herself. Then she rolled over on her side and went back to sleep.
And there was the family of circus bears in Doctor’s Hospital in Coral Gables. Kathi said the bears carried green parasols, wore little green ruffled skirts, and rode tricycles, and that they were there to protect the patients. Actually she didn’t tell me this right away—it took her about a week, because every time she started to explain about the bears she would begin to giggle uncontrollably. All I had to do was say “bears,” to send her into fits of giggles.
Admittedly, Kathi was on some pretty hardcore drugs at the time. But it isn’t always about drugs. The other day we were perfectly sober, driving back from Kathi’s new job at the Palo Alto JCC, chatting about a friend’s ex-husband.
“He was a handsome poet,” Kathi said. “He knew William Burroughs. But his career never took off. He was in my Poets Who Juggle event,” she added, thoughtfully.
“Poets Who Juggle?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she explained. “While one six-foot-tall woman poet read Emily Dickenson a bunch of other poets came on stage dressed in clown suits and juggled. Well, they tried to juggle. None of them knew how.”
“Huh,” I commented.
“I would do ’Poets Who Juggle’ again,” said Kathi, her eyes getting a little misty.
There were no narcotics involved with the juggling poets. It was just pure, unadulterated Kathi.
Or, as NCIS’s Mark Harmon would say, “Moo.”