I’ve got a year’s worth of reading sitting on my shelf: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell, The Island by Aldous Huxley. Then there’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, inspired by his own home, a former Church of England rectory. And those are just a few of the titles before me.
I haven’t managed to read any of these books. Not only do I lack the time, but I also can’t decide where to start. Fortunately, my subconscious has been providing me with some suggestions. It happened the other night that I dreamed that I lived in a house right beside Bill Bryson’s rectory. I went to knock at the door, and after exchanging some kind words with his English offspring, Bryson appeared at the door and began speaking to me … in Estonian.
Not only did he speak to me in Estonian, but he had the air of a mad professor about him, like Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future, that hyperactive hum to his speech, but instead of spouting random facts about 19th century English life, he was spouting random facts about the Battle of Narva and Forest Brothers while I tried to engage him in some kind of normal, “Hi, I’m your new neighbor.” As he spoke, he kept looking up, his eyes fluttering behind his glasses in manic excitement, as if God was speaking through him. And then I realized that it wasn’t Bill Bryson before me. It was “powerful” Estonian Defense Minister Mart Laar!
Or some combination of the two, call him Mart Bryson or Bill Laar. I had never seen the link between the two of them until they were meshed in my dream, but now when I look at them, side by side, it seems so obvious how much these two men share. Perhaps they descend from the same brainy, burly, random fact spouting Viking, who after pollinating Estonia, had some ribald adventures in East Anglia, chattering on about some fascinating overlooked facts about Valhalla to his tired fellow Vikings along the way.
Laar’s actually on my mind because of the leadership struggle in his party, Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit, officially called the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica. Watching the other contenders declared and undeclared speak to Estonian journalists on ETV recently was like having oneself dipped in liquid nitrogen. I cannot even mimic the stiff body movements and drone-like speech of the other heirs apparent to the machine at the top of which Laar still sits. Compared to them, Laar’s fondness for looking up while he talks and occasionally moving his hands, if only to refresh his e-mail, make him look like some kind of fiesta-loving, ultra charismatic Latino Estonian.
So my dreams are infused by books on my shelf and ETV, with a touch of some classic films starring Michael J. Fox. Fine. But then as we stood in Mart Bryson’s doorway, we watched a stealth helicopter land in an adjacent property and a firefight ensue. It was SEAL Team 6, come to rub out Al-Qaeda instigator Osama bin Laden!
“You knew that Osama bin Laden was your neighbor all along and you didn’t tell anyone?” I asked Mart Bryson as we watched the neighboring compound go up in smoke. “Well, I’m glad they took him out,” he said, polishing his glasses. “That jerk doesn’t take good care of his lawn.” Then he shook his head and continued to chatter on about Hirmus Ants and the Battle of Tannenberg Line. When I awoke, it occurred to me that I have spent far too much of my time reading online news.