No Thanks, I’ll Pass

On dream analysis, that is. Last night I slept so soundly that I had an almost unbroken series of anxiety dreams, for no apparent reason. (The t-shirt lies!) These were so entertaining that I had to write them down and share them.

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First I was being pursued by a relentless but incompetent zombie who couldn’t quite figure out how to bite so he just grabbed hold and slobbered on me. (Maybe he was an “old undead dude” who had lost his dentures – zombies aren’t very mindful – and he was just trying to “gum” me to death.) After fleeing several of his fumbling attacks I got frustrated, found an ax and chopped off the front part of his head, leaving just a stub of a neck. Wouldn’t you know that he came right back at me holding his face onto his neck with his hands and futilely chomping away, reminding me of Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher. (We missed the season finale of The Passage on Monday so this must have been compensation.) I woke myself up mumbling “Chain saw, chain saw, chain saw . . .”

I went back to sleep and immediately entered a “highway blues” dream, probably inspired by our recent long drive back from North Carolina. We were somewhere in Pennsylvania, on “Highway 61” (yes, I know, it’s in Mississippi; we always take I-81, so it must have been a random Bob Dylan memory fragment, although there was no sign of Mack the Finger or Louie the King). Our 15-year-old daughter (who is now 33) was with us, and navigating . . . poorly. We were cruising along in an enormous 1967-vintage Oldsmobile station wagon with fake wood sides (the kind of car my parents used to cart their nine kids around in) when an unmarked left-hand exit appeared right in front us and startled me. I jerked the wheel to the right and spun out, with the giant car sliding across the marshy median and coming to rest on the opposite shoulder. I couldn’t get back across the swamp at anything less than light speed so we decided to go south to the next exit and turn around.

I missed the first exit, so we took the second one, which had a diner so we stopped to eat. The place was gleaming white and overflowed with noisy customers. (The dream skipped right over the meal.) I don’t know why, but when leaving we had to go out the back door and take an outdoor hydraulic lift down to the road, which cost us four cents each. We got back to our car (it had miraculously morphed back into our present Honda CRV) and continued on with my wife driving.

I wasn’t paying attention and she got off onto a side road heading east, with the clueless navigator trying to get us over to I-95 near Washington, DC, a stretch of highway we have vowed never to drive again. I protested and my wife got so distracted she drove into a shallow pond and right back out, with the engine coughing and sputtering.  I took over driving and backtracked to find “I-61.” I soon came to a complex “mixmaster” of roads, with five interstates converging on a single congested intersection that had no roundabout (something that doesn’t exist even in DC, although it comes close). The car – now the old behemoth again – was limping along with a tractor-trailer breathing down my neck when the windshield suddenly changed into a movie screen showing what looked like a grainy black-and-white version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with “Hey You” playing in the background. I awoke and wouldn’t let myself go back to sleep after that one, since I had no desire to see Bob Geldof with shaved-off eyebrows again.

I’m sure dream analysts would have a field day with this one. I don’t think I harbor any hidden resentment toward my wife and daughter, vintage Oldsmobiles, or Pink Floyd for that matter. (Geldof’s scabby visage has always haunted me, though.) The zombie thing could be incipient necrophobia, but it was more ludicrous than frightening. At least this time the water I found myself plunging into was shallow, so maybe, as a confirmed non-swimmer, I’m finally getting over the fear of drowning. But I think next time we go south we’re going to fly. Even I can read those signs.

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