I was in an electronics store, like Best Buy. And I was tasked with assisting none other than Isaac Asimov (the late author, if somehow you didn't know) in selecting a television to purchase. He looked much as he does in this picture:
As we considered various models of TV, I somehow became uncomfortably aware of the fact that Asimov might not have enough money to buy any of the TVs that he was considering and became concerned that I might need to find a way to gracefully and discreetly cover the cost of it without embarrassing him. Why Asimov was broke in this dream, I have no idea. I also had the sense that he wasn't all there mentally either, as if he were displaying symptoms of the onset of Alzheimer's. A salesperson approached us and I found myself under great stress, thinking I needed to protect Asimov from people finding out that he was shopping with no money and was in mental decline. To make matters more uncomfortable, Asimov insisted that he wanted to look at a "gas TV," and neither the salesman nor I knew what that was. [ Waking world note: could he have meant a plasma screen? I remember my father considering whether to get an LCD or plasma TV a few years ago, and he said he had heard that the plasma models have some kind of gas that can leak out--whether this is true, I have no idea, I still own a cathrode ray tube TV.] My discomfort increased as Asimov started getting agitated over our ignorance of the gas TV, and I felt a flash of anger when I realized that the salesman seemed to smirking and chuckling at the old man's behavior. I'm not quite sure how this ended, but that seems to have been the end of it, and I woke up much pleased to be done with that situation.
So...what the hell's up with that? That tendency to want to guard the feelings and dignity of an elderly person who isn't functioning very well is very natural to me, so that part makes sense, and the dream felt very realistic in that way. But why Isaac Asimov? My mind could have dredged up a lot of older people that I actually know to play out that same scenario, so why an author who's been dead for a couple of decades and whom I never met? I wonder if the reader/literary part of my subconscious was puzzling over something to do with the literature or generation of writer that Asimov represents. Very, very odd, whatever it's about.
While I never met Asimov, I was very proud as a teenager to have received a handwritten note from him in response to a letter that I had written to him. During the period when I was publishing my Star Trek fanzine, I did some coverage of a campaign that a bunch of Trek fans were running to induce the Postal Service to issue a stamp with the starship Enterprise on it. Back then, they generally didn't do stamps with media images like that, so it was an uphill battle. Someone in that stamp committee claimed that a lot of notable sf folks were backers of the Trek stamp campaign (and some indeed were), and that one such supporter was Asimov. So, wanting to get first-hand quotes for my article, I wrote to Asimov asking if he'd care to comment on this effort. In the margins of my letter, he wrote, "I am afraid I have no knowledge of the stamp campaign." For a long time after that, I'd pick up that letter and look at it, dazzled that the man who had written Foundation put pen to my piece of paper!