This is really weird, but the other night Pam and I had almost the exact same dream but with a different cast of characters . The essence of the dream was being in the middle of a group of our friends, feeling like outsiders, trying to belong…but ultimately, feeling alone.

It brought me back to thoughts of Bismarck, North Dakota and a famous cultural shrine, a drive in called the Big Boy on the east side of town. Since 1954, it made its mark on Main Street as a great place to eat and a fun meeting place.

Their pizza burger flying style
was the epicurean centerpiece of teenage fine cuisine, and the drink of choice was a Hot n’ Tot made with cinnamon and coke. Also on the menu were specialty shakes and malts like the Calypso, Brown Cow and the familiar standbys as well.

There was a car line that usually stretched along Main Street, crossing a a railroad track that took you thru a drive thru lane to a little speaker box where you placed your order. Another favorite menu item for me was a foot-long hotdog with pickles, onions, mustard and ketsup. A lot of kids liked ordering gravy so they could dip their fries in it. After you pulled up to the pick-up window to pay and get your food, you drove on to the big parking lot in back.

With evening came a moonlit stage
and a blended scent of English Leather, Aqua Net, the exhaust from cars, the deep fryer and grill fans of the kitchen and the smoke from a Winston or an occasional Swisher Sweet.

There usually were couples on a date, a carload full of screaming girls, or guys suffering the effects of full blown testosterone awkwardly saying the wrong things to impress, while others sat on the hood of their cars spooning their cherry marshmallow snows, talking and laughing til the lights in the parking lot were turned off.

We had a sense of safety there with few cares and a fledgling freedom to drive a car and stay out late. In the parking lot we knew most everyone. In some obscure way, we were becoming then the people we’ve become…with some grand moments in life along with chapters we wish had never been written. Nevertheless, life continues on.

I have to admit I was so immature that I always felt like a participant who didn’t belong in the circus I was in the middle of. So with that dream, Pam and I realized this feeling has been resident in us both, most of our lives. But I guess, everyone has a little catch in their psyche in some respect. It’s just one of those human things.

Was it the place or people that our smiles and memories share…. or beauty of the sentiment that came from just being there. Is that the Pavlovian potion that keeps us returning to the scene of the times?

We were comrades facing the future, our fears and the unknown, but it was okay, because we were in it together. We had peaceful conversations for the most part. I miss that in the conversation today. Of course I can’t live in the past, but there sure are times I wish I could.

I’m feeling like an Alpine burger just now.

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