Friday, August 21, 1987

I was invited to attend a dinner party. The invitation said the party would be semi-formal. It was winter time and there was snow hanging heavy on the pine trees surrounding the home as I walked up to the entrance. It was a beautiful, peaceful setting. I knocked on the door and was quickly ushered inside out of the cold. The young lady who answered the door was dressed in a white blouse and black skirt with a serving apron tied at her waist. She was very cordial and offered to take my overcoat. That is when I noticed the silhouette of flower bouquets etched in the mirrored glass of the foyer. The young lady opened one of the flowered panels and revealed a closet behind the mirrors. Just as she finished hanging my coat, I was touched on the arm by someone standing behind me and was asked if I would care for some refreshment. I turned to respond and was taken off guard by the fact that it was a huge rabbit who had spoken to me. He knew me by name and offered me a drink. Somewhat startled, I turned back toward the young lady who had just taken my coat but she seemed to be unaffected by a large rabbit standing on his hind legs, dressed like a court jester. She didn’t even seem to be bothered by the fact that this rabbit could speak. She acted as though she had not even seen him.

Once again, the rabbit offered me a drink. As I looked down at his serving tray I saw what I supposed was a glass of red wine. Beside the wine glass was a glass of what appeared to be water. Based on how he was dressed I quickly concluded that this was all a practical joke on me and I wasn’t going to be the brunt of someone’s humor. The rabbit spoke to me again and suggested that even though he knew my beverage of choice would be water, I was welcome to try the red wine if I desired. I took the glass of water and carefully put it to my lips; drinking cautiously until I knew for sure that it was water. Feeling uneasy and anxious to move away from the rabbit, I turned my attention to the other guests.

Looking at the people who had gathered in the living room I quickly saw that all the men were dressed in long tail tuxedos and the women were in beautiful evening gowns. The rabbit, eyeing me through that one eyed spectacle resting between his right cheek bone and eyebrow, saw the concerned look on my face. He suggested that I might be a little underdressed for the occasion. He informed me that even though the invitation said semi-formal, everyone who was anyone knew that tuxedos were expected. Before I could respond to his statement, the rabbit offered to provide the proper attire for me to slip into before joining the other dinner guests. Sensing my bewilderment and confusion, the rabbit simply said, “I am called Jewels, it is short for… oh, never mind, it isn’t important. I knew that you would be coming underdressed so I made arrangements so that you would not feel embarrassed or out of place.”

I wasn’t so much bewildered and embarrassed as I was confused. How was this rabbit able to speak? How did he know my name? How did he know that I would choose water over red wine, and come dressed in a suit when everyone else would be dressed in a tux? Not having uttered a word to the rabbit up to this point, my first response was, “No I do not want to slip into the tux you arranged for me, I will stay dressed as I came.” The rabbit nicknamed Jewels shrugged his shoulders and said, “Suit yourself but you will not be well received.” I wondered why he wasn’t concerned about his own manner of dress. He wore a floppy red hat, white neck scarf, and an oversized red jacket, blue top and gold tights. As I mentioned before he reminded me of a court jester. Finding no answers to my mental questions and still holding my glass of water, I stepped into the area with the rest of the dinner guests.

I looked around the room for someone I might recognize but there were no familiar faces in the crowd. Everyone was dressed to the nines and each person was holding a glass of red wine, sipping occasionally as they conversed with one another. Very quickly it became evident that I was drawing considerable attention because I was not dressed like everyone else or drinking the beverage of choice. Some whispered loud enough for me to hear, “I wonder who invited him?” while others suggested, “You can tell this is his first visit.” Eventually a gentleman approached me and we began to make small talk. Actually we were just being polite to one another, but I appreciated his willingness to engage me in conversation. As we talked I looked around for Jewels, but the talking rabbit was no where to be found.

As the gentleman and I chatted, someone from behind accidentally bumped my arm causing me to spill my water on the edge of the carpet. Immediately the gentleman with whom I had been conversing, snapped his fingers, pointed to one of the serving ladies, and motioned for her to come take care to the spilled water. I was surprised at the speed with which she came and began wiping up the water. I wondered if she thought I had spilled red wine on the carpet instead of water. I kneeled down beside her and asked if I could clean up the spill for her but she refused my help.

As she knelt there on the carpet, I realized that she was dressed identical to the lady who let me in the front door and took my overcoat. She wore a white blouse and black skirt with a serving apron tied around her waist. As she stood she began apologizing to the gentleman with whom I had been speaking. He spoke harshly to her for not having taken care of the spill before it stained the carpet. I didn’t understand what was going on until I looked down and to my surprise; the water had stained the beautiful carpet. My mind began to enter a state of confusion once again. Quickly I assessed my situation: a semi-formal dinner that was really formal, a talking rabbit nicknamed Jewels who knew that I would come to the dinner party underdressed and that I preferred to drink water over red wine. And now, I had spilt water that left a white stain on the carpet. How could water turn a carpet white?

Coming back to my senses, I returned my attention to the serving lady who had cleaned up the spilled water. Uncomfortable with the treatment she was receiving, I took her by the arm and turned her around to face me. At that moment I realized she was the same lady who had met me in the foyer, but to my astonishment, her white blouse had taken on a sheer appearance, revealing her breasts. It puzzled me why she would dress in such a provocative way. I turned and looked at the other serving ladies in the room. As I focused on each lady, her face took on the appearance of the lady standing by my side. It was as if she was the only image I could see. I wondered why I hadn’t noticed her revealing attire before. Had I been aware of her suggestive apparel at the door I would have never entered the home. Maybe it was Jewels who distracted me; but then, I saw the lady at the door before I ever encountered the talking rabbit.

Still holding the young lady by the arm, I gave a slight tug and said, “Let’s leave this place.” She said, “Oh we don’t have to leave for me to take care of your needs, the owner has made arrangements right here in room number one, The Pleasure Room.” As she spoke she reached into her apron pocket and pulled out two individually wrapped condoms and offered them to me. Before I could regain my composure and respond to her comment, the gentleman I had been speaking with said in a boisterous voice, “Our guest has chosen the pleasure room first and what a fresh plum he has picked! She will satisfy your every desire.” I had not chosen pleasure! The only thing I had chosen was to get out of there quickly. To the young lady I said, “Are you coming with me?” She responded, “No I won’t be leaving with you. You wouldn’t be able to give me what I want. I have much to learn from these important people. It is an honor to be invited here, even as a servant. They have assured me that as I fulfill my role in the pleasure room, I will be able to visit each of the other three rooms where I will be taught how the world operates. And then one day I will be able to purchase my own place just like this beautiful home.” With that comment, she stepped away from me and stood by the gentleman who had spoken so harshly to her.

With all the eyes in the room focused on me, I sat my water glass down on a nearby table and began to walk toward the foyer. Jewels reappeared and took me by the arm. “You aren’t leaving so soon are you?” he asked. “Yes, I am,” I stated. “You will be back,” said Jewels. “No I won’t,” was my reply. “Oh yes, once you have tasted the wine you will return,” he said with authority. “I did not drink the wine, I drank water,” I told him. “You might not have drunk wine with your lips but tonight you experienced a taste of the addictive wine of pleasure, power, prestige, and wealth. They are all yours for the taking if you will stay and visit each of the four rooms where they are taught. You will hunger for them until you return and partake as each of these people here tonight has done in the past. They were just like you when they first came. They didn’t understand the rules, felt embarrassed, bewildered, even confused, until they entered each of the four rooms and were properly taught by the others.” Taking a deep breath I said, “These people may have vast amounts of wealth, hold positions of great power, enjoy the honor and accolades of men, and indulge themselves in all forms of pleasure, but I will not be back. They have nothing to teach me that will help me be a better person.” Adjusting his spectacle Jewels said, “Oh, now I am beginning to see more clearly who you really are; but you will still return because deep down inside you think you can help these people understand what is truly important. Now I know why I was warned about you. I will not be so friendly when you return.

My people do not want your help, they are happy as they are. They will not listen to anything you have to say.”

In a challenging tone of voice Jewels said, “These people have ears to hear, but they hear not. They have eyes to see, but they see not. I no longer offer them water as I did you tonight because they always choose wine. The wine dulls their senses and relaxes their inhibitions so they can better enjoy the moment. When you return I will not be your friend, I will be your enemy.” “Just how formidable of a foe can a rabbit be?” I said with a smirk. “I can take on any form I choose,” responded Jewels. “I appeared to you as a rabbit because no creature on earth feels threatened by a rabbit. I could have shown myself as a human but you would have taken no notice of me. I could have come as a wolf but you would have been frightened away. Even though I may appear harmless, my features have specific meaning and purpose. These ears that look like those of a rabbit are large so they can absorb all your words and protect my people from hearing your voice. My eye is fitted with a spectacle so I can watch your every move and stand as a barrier between you and them. My costume is designed to attract the eye and distract the mind of the viewer.” “Distract my mind from what?” I asked.

“These people no longer see me as you see me. They no longer hear me as you hear me because they choose to not see or hear me. They are doing quite well without my help. They practice what they have learned in the four rooms of pleasure, power, prestige, and wealth. They have learned the world’s definition of success. My responsibility is to help them focus on and obtain all that this world has to offer. I will shield and protect them from you because you would take away their contentment: their comfortable and complacent way of life.” At that moment I became silent. I decided that I had heard enough. When I offered no response to Jewels comments he said, “As I told you before, Jewels is only my nickname. Aren’t you curious to know my real name before you leave?” Those were the last words I heard Jewels speak. I pulled free of his grasp, went to the foyer, opened the closet door behind the plate glass mirrors etched with flower bouquets and retrieved my overcoat. As I opened the front door I glanced back one last time to see if the serving lady had changed her mind. Our eyes met, an unseen magnet seemed to be pulling us toward one another. In my mind she was moving toward me but in reality, the gentleman standing beside her reached up and placed his hand firmly on her shoulder. She broke our shared gaze by casting her eyes toward the floor. She had made her decision. Saddened, I stepped out into the cold night air. The dream ended.