R: I dreamed Baghdad was peaceful and prosperous, the richest city in the world, and that the Tigris and Euphrates were the new Silicon Valley. All totally oasis-y and lush. Salam was the mayor and Esther Dyson was running around hyping software. We had a tiny apartment in a cool neighborhood in Baghdad and a sort of dacha in a village in the valley. It was my 33rd birthday, and everyone had come from all over the world, the whole Frock Advisory Council, Garfield, Alex, Adrian, Sam, Jack, Salome, Colin, Maya, everyone, and all hitting it off like mad. Gabriele Russo and Mark Bennett talking nineteen to the dozen, that sorta thing. Paul Gregory was running around in his centurian getup and Moonbase Alabama were organizing all the catering and logistics, like they do, so I could sit in the shade with Claire eating sorbet and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in ten years… God, this is my dorkiest dream ever, isn’t it?

J (fondly): Ayup.

R (dolefully): So much for my subtle mind. A nakedly yearning dream for peace. You’ll lose all respect for my thought processes.

J invokes the ghost of Thurber: “It’s just a naive little domestic dream, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.”

R: It wasn’t utopian though, it was really us, bitchy jokes and all. And the village was old and tumbledown but gorgeous, all courtyards and wells and frescoes…

J: And date palms.


R: Did I tell you about the date palms?

J: Worked it out from first principles.

R: Yes. Well there were lots. And Mark had brought his boy toy, the one that broke the restraints? And he looked like a really handsome blond teenaged version of the Hulk.

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