The Best Movie Never Made

Dreams can really make you glad to wake up sometimes. Witness the one I had a few days ago, in which I could not stop shitting myself.

Last night’s was much lighter in tone but no less weird.

It was in the format of a movie trailer. Not sure if I was watching the trailer, or if the dream was a trailer — or if I was some kind of omniscient observer. And not just any trailer, but the trailer for that 1979 Bill Murray summer camp movie Meatballs. Or, rather, a remade version of it. It had that grainy, filmic quality of those old trailers, with garish, yellow titles and an overenthusiastic voice over.

It starts out normal, but then there’s a scene in which Bill Murray and the shy, awkward teenage main character Rudy (played in the movie, as in my dream, by Chris Makepeace) have some kind of fight. Bill Murray is shouting at Rudy and provoking him, poking him in the chest and berating him until Rudy flips his lid and shouts “There’s nothing I want more than to kill you right now!” He charges toward Bill Murray, arms flailing, and they both fall into a gruesome fist fight.

Before long, Rudy rises from the dirt with bruises and scratches on his face. He wipes a trail of blood from his mouth. Then Bill Murray stands up behind him, beaming with pride. The camera shift focus from Rudy to Bill Murray, who dusts himself off and congratulates Rudy for standing up to him. He lays his manly hand on Rudy’s shoulder and stares him meaningfully in the eyes.

Cut to a scene of them cutting the engine of a pontoon boat and drifting toward a dock where they are greeted by a character played by William Shatner, who says, “Methinks the boy now bears the mark.” Turns out that the reward for becoming a “real man,” by thrashing Bill Murray, is to meet the person he has wanted to meet all his young life more than anyone else in the world: Lady Gaga.

At this point I remember thinking, “Wait a minute. How old is Lady Gaga? Could she have been in this movie?” (Having been born in 1986, of course she could not.) But then my brain tried to convince me: “Oh yeah… she was in that old ’80s band before she started appearing in movies, right? What was it called? …”

Whatever. I gave up trying to remember rather than conclude that there was, in fact, no such thing.

So Rudy is taken to see Lady Gaga. The fog clears, and she descends from the top of a series of pure white marble steps. She is wearing opalescent white and silver, her skin shimmers subtly, her hair is pink, and she is showing a lot of leg. Two female attendants, dressed similarly but with less flair, stand always a step or two behind her on to the right and left. It’s dream-like and reminiscent of the “Beauty School Dropout” scene from Grease. She seems to be walking through a thin veil of smoke. She moves with great seriousness and purpose. Gauzy drapes undulate in the background.

Gaga greets Rudy and his friends in an ethereal, dreamy manner as she moves toward a lottery machine, numbered balls bouncing and tumbling like popcorn inside a transparent chamber. He is to choose a series of random numbers. Apparently his fate is tied to the sequence of numbers he chooses, but he does not yet know this.

He calls for the first number. Gaga pulls a lever, and a ball shoots up a clear plastic cylinder to her hand. (I think it was “16” and blue about about the size of a Wiffle ball.) She shows the assemblage — Shatner, Murray, Makepeace, and assorted faceless others — and ceremoniously, achingly slowly, sets it on a metal trough. There is room for five more balls.

Cut to Gaga choosing the last ball. What she had in mind for young Rudy is about to go terribly wrong for her. When she sees the number, her wicked, knowing grin melts into a dark scowl. She knits her glowing brow and grumbles. The tension in the crowd rises. She is defeated. (How could this happen?) But she won’t give up easily. She sets the ball in the trough and opens her mouth to —

And then my phone rang. My grandma called. She probably received the rosebush I sent her for Mother’s Day.


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the untallied hours

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