Last night, during what would prove to be an insufficient sleep (even now, at 10:34 a.m., I look not unlike a boiled radish as a result), I dreamt a Sunday edition four-panel comic strip.
Window pane layout, wiggly hand drawn borders, tiny precise signature and all. In it, four established characters, the types of ne’er-do-well animal scamps to inhabit the Bloom County universe, or some neighbor to it, lounged in a cardboard box. They nestled head to toe, like high heeled shoes arranged neatly in a tissue’d square, their furry ears and elbows spilling over droopy sides. They napped, or near napped. Floating above them may have been an open-air asterisk, or some other tool of the cartoonist’s pencil which communicates such things without there being a rule book or MLA guide to define them.
In the second panel, someone awakes with a start from either sleep or reverie. WHEN ARE EXAMS?! he demands. Or maybe WHUNAHREXAMS! would suit the purpose. This, I believe, is a dream we all have, recurring for years after the minacious grip of the semester (or—pitiably, for most—quarter) system is released in favor of one long, beige block of Job. I’ve missed the exam. The exam is today and not un-today as I’d thought; and I’m not ready, I have no bluebook, I have a bluebook but it’s sopping wet, every line is filled in with scribbles, it disintegrated in my hands, it’s made of stone, of ice, of live worms, my pen is out of ink, my pen is not a pen but something else altogether, my pen is a carrot. I have an exam but never went to a single class, what class is this? Seminar? Workshop? Where’s the syllabus? I fail. I wake up.
He wakes up, this badger or beaver or vole. WENUHRXMS! His fellows gaze at him, languid eyelids drawn with a greasy sheen. They smile, serene, as wise to this plight as we readers. Everyone in the box gets to have a chuckle. This box is for easy-breezy meadow folk. Admiration all around for the Best Life Ever, one so good it’s populated by the only-imaginable, the impossible, in color every Sunday. The final panel offers a fat n’ happy speech bubble coming from one or the other as he settles comfortably back into inanity. “King of the castle,” he says. King of the castle.