The Rarebit Fiend returns, 2021 edition

Last night, I was in my car.

There was no other traffic on the road. I made my turn. And then suddenly, a car came from out of nowhere and smashed into the front left corner of my Chevrolet.

I saw minimal damage. But there was enough to barely limp the car to a nearby gas station. The other car went there as well.

I assessed the situation. My front end was crumpled up, and steam was shooting out of the pinched car hood. The other vehicle had a severe chunk in it.

The other driver got out of their car and immediately ran over to me, yelling and screaming and claiming that I was a reckless driver.

“You came out of nowhere,” I said.

“You should have seen me, asshole!” was the response.

Okay, okay, let’s calm down. It’s only cars. That’s why we have insurance. Nobody has broken bones. Let’s swap insurance cards and let LiMu Emu and Flo hammer it out.

“Okay, give me your insurance.”

I pulled my insurance paperwork out of the glove box and handed it to the driver. One camera click on his phone, and the insurance card was returned to me.

“Okay,” I said, “let me have yours.”

“Well, I don’t think I want to do that. Why don’t I just get it repaired and you can pay the repair costs.”

“No,” I said, “I’d like your insurance card.”

“I can’t find it.”

“Then what’s your insurance company?”

“I don’t know.”

“You must have insurance to drive. Certainly you know it.”

I looked at what was left of his car. The damage, which looked minor upon first glance, now looked like the car would have been designated as a total loss.

“No, I think you can pay me for the damage. I don’t want to get my insurance company involved.”

I’m now thinking. Does this driver even HAVE insurance? Or was it lapsed or expired or revoked?

And I’m freaking out. This chisel-brain is going to call my insurance company and scream that I caused the accident, that I’m 100% at fault, and that I will owe a king’s ransom to him. And suddenly he’s grabbing the back of his neck, claiming a whiplash injury. I could feel an ache in my stomach.

And then I heard a buzzing. An intermittent buzzing, like something out of an alarm clock.

Oh, wait. It was my alarm clock.

It was a bad dream. I was safe in my bed, in my warm apartment in the Town and Village. And my beloved Chevrolet Dracourage was in a safe location. I hadn’t driven it at all yesterday, due to the snowstorm.

Okay, Chuck. Let’s figure this out.

Ugh. Stomach’s growling.

What did I eat last night?

Oh yeah, on the way home, I stopped at Stewart’s and bought a discount box of mac and cheese. Not the Kraft stuff, but something else. I ate that last night.

That stuff must have given me some nasty indigestion. One trip to the medicine chest for a Tums pill, and my stomach felt better.

But it instantly reminded me of a very famous comic strip, and pardon me if I’m doing a bit of a nerd-out here.

One of the greatest newspaper artists of the early 20th century, Winsor McKay, created breathtaking full-page illustrations of his creation Little Nemo in Slumberland, which is still considered today one of the most influential comic strips of its time. Prior to the Little Nemo series, McKay created a series called Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, in which a person has vivid, nightmarish dreams after he consumes a late-night snack of Welsh Rarebit (a toasted cheese sandwich).

Damn, look at the detail in those panels.

I should also note that McKay was a pioneer in animation, he made silent films based on his character Gertie the Dinosaur, as well as a propaganda animation on the sinking of the Lusitania.

As for the Rarebit Fiend, Thomas Edison made an early silent film on the series, here’s an example.


So I ate some discount mac and cheese, and next thing I know, my car’s in an accident because some schlub was driving without any car insurance, and trying to stick me for two car repair bills.

I went to the fridge. There was still half a bowl of the discount mac and cheese, enough for maybe lunch today.

I tossed it in the trash.

Sorry, I can’t have my insurance premiums jumping through the roof, even in my dreams, based on hallucinogenic comfort food.

Nope, nope, can’t have that.