Years ago there was a tv comedy star named Red Skelton, most likely forgotten now. His show was in its last years when I was a kid. I used to watch it, though not with much interest. Still, he was an appealing sort of fellow, with a gentle, sad-funny air about him. I remember him as having a long face with almost flaring cheekbones and a sandy trace of hair hanging on to the crown of his head. If you clicked the link just above, you’ll have seen that this memory is not completely accurate.

Last night I dreamt that I had wound up in a midsize French provincial city down toward the south. I was trying to fit in with the city’s crowd of wealthy American retirees, a very aged crowd, and was happy to seize on Mr. Skelton for a moment at the crowded party thrown by one lady in her musty apartment. He was in his 70s or 80s but had lost none of his vitality. The week before he had made a small international splash by showing up Olivia de Havilland and a venerable French comedian at a televised bout of t’ai chi, or what was supposed to have been a bout of t’ai chi but ran entirely counter to that quiet discipline’s spirit. Skelton interposed himself in the business, sitting cross-legged between the two, who were also sitting cross-legged, and flourishing with mock grandiosity a tiny pair of ivory boomerangs that implicitly mocked the whole travesty of t’ai chi that the proceedings represented. 
The coup de grace came when he seized the French comedian’s shoulders and simply lifted. It turned out the French comedian had smuggled himself inside a false set of shoulders and head. Skelton pulled them off so deftly that they appeared to sail thru the air. Revealed beneath was pretty much the same aged French comedian as before, but far smaller; his bald head stared out from the shell of his body like one Russian doll nested inside another.
The t’ai chi, or “t’ai chi,” event ended there. It could not continue. Skelton had made his point and brought a measure of needed sanity to the carnival atmosphere that had overtaken the world’s most beloved physical discipline. In fact the French comedian and Olivia de Havilland bore him no ill will. Perhaps they were grateful to be freed from the pretense they had got up to. Only the event’s presiding impresario, a wizened party from Asia, had been embarrassed.
Standing at the party amid all the ancient elbows and wattle, I congratulated Skelton on his feat. I did so with the relief and warmth one feels on being able to offer heartfelt praise. He responded graciously and with honest pleasure; a showman, no matter how advanced in his career, feels the success of one of his coups.
I suppose the dream reflects how I feel about getting old. But there was a lot more to it, hours’ worth, involving a film festival at a giant shopping mall in Connecticut, a pair of stand-up comedians’ debut as indy filmmakers, the role of Tony Roberts (Woody Allen’s old sidekick) in their film, my well-taken but much-resented remark during the comedians’ presentation of the film, and the hunt for a mens room in the shopping mall, which had a women’s room on the ground level and then another women’s room when you traveled down the long route to the lower level. The lower of the two was besieged by a crowd of frustrated women waiting for one neurasthenic party to stop hyperventilating and step out of the stall, which more properly resembled a telephone booth and was being used in that spirit.
Other parts of the dream: me and Candice Bergen and Jane Fonda getting high and going to the season premiere of Jean Doumanian’s edition of Saturday Night Live, me getting stuck on camera (thru no fault of my own) and having to hold still while the camera whirled about thru the show’s razzle-dazzle opening imitation of a Folie Bergeres show in Third Republic France, Candice and Jane laughing cattily at a humorous film that parodied the eccentric but brilliantly gifted comic actress Penelope Gilliatt.
So, something to do with women, I guess. But the fucking dream went on and on and on, and I never want to dream again.