A few nights ago I had a dream. It unfolded in the typical way of dreams, disjointed events unfolding without conscious direction. At one point I was given a beer. I looked down at the bottle and saw it was a Miller Lite, at which point I rejected the narrative of the dream and went hunting for a better beer.
Now, I don’t think of myself as a beer snob. Sure, I know a good bit about beer. I’ve been a bartender. I’ve been a drinker. In case you’re wondering, my current favorite is Gotta Get Up to Get Down, a coffee milk stout from Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis, Tennessee.
I tend toward dark beers, and I’ve downed my share (or more than) of pints of Guinness, Newcastle, and Smithwicks. There’s this excellent South American beer, Xingu, that a friend of mine swears tastes like Coca-Cola (it doesn’t.)
I don’t always drink dark beers. The bartenders at Madam’s Organ in DC used to keep a twelve pack of Dos Equis just for me. I am at this very moment drinking a bottle of Miller High Life, with a pinch of salt dropped in.
But, and I mean this from the bottom of my stomach, if you hand me a Miller Lite you can fuck right off.
It’s a matter of taste, and I speak only for my own taste and imply no judgement on anyone else’s, but Miller Lite is the single worst beer on the market. It is the reason people who don’t drink beer don’t drink beer.
Miller Lite is so bad that, when confronted with one in a nightmare I literally hijacked my unconscious and took (momentary) control of my dream.
I’ve never been able to lucid dream.
Let me break that down a bit. Lucid dreaming, technically, is simply being aware that you are in a dream while it is happening. That happens all the time (for me, anyway), though usually right at the end of the dream. But when people say “lucid dreaming,” they’re just about always referring to the next step: controlling your dream.
I always end up thinking about Vanilla Sky when that comes up. And if I let my mind wander, I’ll end up thinking about Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks (in which certain cultures have developed VR Heavens and Hells, their governments deciding to which any particular deceased may be uploaded).
But, yeah, Vanilla Sky. Poor Tom Cruise is stuck in a lucid dream in which he has lost control. That’s what my lucid dreams are like. Not that they’re psychosexual nightmares involving Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. (Usually) I mean only that, aware of the dream or not, I lack control. I lack agency. I am reduced to the status of NPC in my own unconscious.
I’ve always wanted to be able to direct my own dreams. Who wouldn’t?
As it turns out, the key – for me, at least – was the worst beer in the Universe.