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Don't Think About Elephants

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When Cobb found himself in Yusuf’s pouring-rain cityscape of a dream, he went in search of Arthur first, because it wasn’t like anything could get done until he got Arthur.

Arthur had his face scrunched up with displeasure. He was almost squinting. Which was stupid because what did Arthur have to be squint about? It wasn’t like he was being mind-stalked by the wife he’d driven to jump off of a building, leaving him separated from his children. Arthur was probably just worried about his leather jacket.

“Why would Yusuf put me in a leather jacket and also have it be raining?” complained Arthur as he got in.

Yup, leather jacket. “We have bigger things to worry about than your jacket, Arthur,” Cobb reminded him. “We’re trying to pull off inception. We need your head in the game.”

Cobb wasn’t sure Arthur looked suitably impressed over Cobb’s speech. Maybe Cobb should draw him a diagram about the importance of what they were doing. A nice exclamation point, and then an arrow pointing to it. That would probably help.

Arthur said, “We should pick up Eames next.”

“Oh, no,” said Cobb. “We definitely don’t have time for this.”

“Time for what?” asked Arthur, as if he wasn’t so obvious.

“Your Eames thing,” Cobb said.

Arthur looked comically offended. “What would that even be? ‘My Eames thing’?”

“Yes,” said Cobb. “Your thing for him. And his penis.”

“I don’t have a–What? I don’t have a thing for his penis. What? I said we should pick him up next because he’s the forger and important and he’s come up with this whole fucking plan and–what? I don’t have a thing for Eames’s penis. I never even think about Eames’s penis.”

“It’s in your dreams.”


“Why are you yelling?”

“I’m not yelling.”

“I haven’t seen Eames’s penis in your dreams,” said Cobb.

“BECAUSE IT’S NOT THERE,” yelled Arthur, definitely yelling.

“But you put up paintings of British thieves in your dreams.”

“That was…That was a Francis Bacon painting! He’s an artist! That wasn’t Eames’s penis!”

“There’s Eames,” said Cobb, spotting him on the sidewalk waiting, looking much less frownier than Arthur had.

“Do not talk about his penis,” Arthur threatened darkly, still very frowny, as Eames got into the car.

“Hello,” said Eames cheerfully. “Pleasant weather, eh?” Nobody said anything. “Does Yusuf have you in leather, Arthur? Excellent.” Still nobody said anything, although Arthur looked like he wanted his gun. “Is there a reason everybody’s so dour and gloomy in this car? Has the job gone to hell already?”

“Arthur said we can’t talk about your penis,” explained Cobb.

“COBB!” yelled Arthur, still definitely yelling. “Oh. My. Fucking. God.” He punctuated each word with a shove at Cobb.

“Stop!” Cobb said. “I’m trying to drive. We’re doing a very important job here, Arthur. You’re jeopardizing this very important job.”

“I’m going to jeopardize your ass,” Arthur muttered, and then turned to Eames. “We weren’t talking about your penis.”

Cobb glanced in Eames’s direction. He was looking at Arthur in something like amazement. “It’s okay. We can talk about my penis if you want to.”

“I don’t want to,” said Arthur. “I do not want to talk about your penis. Okay?”

There was a moment of silence. “Okay,” Eames agreed gravely.

“Let’s all just sit in this car and not think about Eames’s penis,” suggested Cobb.

“Oh, my God,” groaned Arthur.

“Oh, look,” said Eames. “There’s Ariadne. She can come in the car and not think about my penis, too.”

“Eames,” complained Arthur, as Ariadne opened the door.

“Welcome,” said Eames. “We are all not thinking about my penis.”

“Does this have something to do with the dream?” asked Ariadne.


“Why are you yelling?” asked Eames.

“See?” Cobb said. “You are yelling.”

“I was just thinking that I guess the skyscrapers are phallic but you asked me for a city,” said Ariadne. “I really wasn’t thinking about Eames’s penis when I made all the skyscrapers.”

“Nevertheless, Ariadne, I am flattered,” said Eames.

“Can I die already?” Arthur asked.

“No, you’re my cab driver,” said Eames. “You’re going to drive a cab around for me. And, apparently, not think about my penis.”

“I really never think about your penis,” Arthur said.

“How can you not be thinking about his penis?” Ariadne asked. “Now his penis is the only thing I can think about.”

“Which is generally how I prefer things to be,” said Eames pleasantly.

“Everyone needs to be serious,” said Cobb, to refocus them all, “because we have a very important job to do here.”

“Serious?” said Arthur. “This is all your fault, you know.”

“I have everything under control,” Cobb said defensively. “Everyone just needs to stop thinking about Eames’s penis.”

“If only we had to incept Fischer with my penis,” mused Eames, “we’d have already done a smashing job.”

“You’re not incepting Fischer with your penis,” said Arthur.

“Jealous?” asked Eames.

“No. Fine. Incept whatever the fuck you want with your penis.”

“No,” said Cobb. “No incepting with penises. This is a very important job. This job is getting me home to my family. You need to be serious and stop screwing around.”

There was a moment of silence.

“I think,” Eames ventured, “Arthur would tell you that he absolutely never thinks about us screwing–”

“Shut up,” said Arthur. “I hope a fucking projection fucking shoots you and you bleed out in the back seat of my cab and I will not care, I will just let you bleed back there and just…not care.”

“Yes,” said Eames, sounding oddly amused and fond in the face of a death threat from Arthur. Cobb had surrounded himself with idiots for this very important job, thought Cobb sadly. “That sounds exactly like you,” Eames said, still all amused and fond and soft.

“And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?” demanded Arthur. “Why would you say it like that? That definitely is something I would do. I am a really horrible and mean person, Eames. I am awful. I would not care at all if you died.”

“But would you care if my penis died?” asked Eames mildly.


“Yes, Arthur, we know,” Cobb said. “You don’t like Eames’s penis.”

“I didn’t say I don’t like it.”

“So you like it?” asked Ariadne.

“I don’t…I don’t have an opinion on it. I mean, I am neutral on the subject of Eames’s penis. Because of how little I think about Eames’s penis. I neither like nor dislike Eames’s penis. And that is my final word on the subject of Eames’s penis.”

There was a moment of silence.

“For the record,” said Eames, “can we just make note of the fact that it is a very nice penis and if you thought about it at all–which you don’t–you would probably like it?”

“No,” said Arthur. “No, we can’t make note of that fact.”

“We just did,” said Ariadne.

“No,” said Arthur. “That’s not an official note.”

“What would an official note be?” asked Ariadne blankly.

“The official note from this conversation is that I do not want to have sex with Eames, okay? Has everyone made a note of that?”

“Honestly, Arthur,” said Eames, “who said anything about sex? Oh, look, there’s Yusuf.”