R.I.P. Bob

Last night I had a sad dream that nevertheless made me happy when I woke up as I lay there remembering it. I dreamt I was staying with Robert Altman. Sort of looking after him. He had just finished making A Prairie Home Companion and was now confined to bed, very weak but still coherent and talkative. I wasn’t ready for him to give up making films and I tried to convince him that he could still make another.

“What if we put you in a chair and wheeled you around,” I said. “Couldn’t you direct that way?”

“No, no,” he said. “It wouldn’t work. No, that’s all over.”

I was silent for awhile. Thinking. Finally I said, “Well, that’s a pretty good film to be your last one. Pretty good movie to go out with.”

We both chuckled softly and I looked away, remembering. Then I got into his bed and embraced him. It wasn’t sexual at all; it was just a gesture of love and appreciation. It only lasted for a moment and then the dream shifted, and I was sitting in a chair by his bed again and we were talking. I told him that Popeye had gotten re-released on DVD and was now so popular that even Starbucks was selling it.

I told him, “The kids love it, they just love it. It’s something else. It’s like, where were you in 1980?”

He agreed to my suggestion that I drive him over to Starbucks so I could buy him a copy. I left him in the car and went inside the shop. At the counter, when I asked for it the clerk told me that it was a promotional-only item and that I had to save enough points to send away for it by mail.

“But you have it here in the store. I saw you unpacking it,” I said.

The person behind counter thought for a moment, not sure how to respond. Then I woke up.

Not very many days go by that I don’t think of Altman. I’ll probably never get used to him being gone.

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