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The Home Team / How to behave in your dreams

Published 8:04 am, Saturday, February 8, 2014
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I've just left the high school -- though it didn't look like any high school I've ever seen, it looked more like the base lodge at Stratton Mountain -- after finishing a really scary and disorienting economics test. I didn't understand a single question, nor did I recognize any of the students or the teacher. I'm with Luke -- who in real life is a friend of my son Robby, but in this dream, he's a friend of mine -- and someone else. (No idea who.) I have to get to my real-life friend Dalma's house. (No idea why.)

My car is in one of those multi-tier lots, and I'm waiting for it with a bunch of other people, but nothing seems to be happening. Not a single car has come down yet, and there's not an attendant in sight. Everyone's glancing at each other, grumbling, getting more and more annoyed. Then one car comes racing down the too-steep ramp, out of control, and rams into the wall ... followed by another, and another, and another in a massive pile-up. The cars catch fire, the parking lot attendants are engulfed in flames, we hear their horrible screams as they try to escape the wreckage. ...

And I wake up. Phew!

For years, I'd had only the most mundane dreams. I'm walking on my block, and I see a golden retriever. End of dream. I'm driving in my car and coming the other way is someone I recognize from college. End of dream. No plot. No character development. No drama. Nothing happens. The quality of these dreams was actually a source of embarrassment for someone who's supposed to be a "creative."

And then, for a few weeks, it was full-length features, like "Parking Lot Inferno" -- dreams with vivid, terrifying detail that seemed to go on and on and last the whole night. I'd wake up in a sweat. I complained of feeling as if I hadn't slept.

So my wife turned on the ceiling fan in our bedroom. And it was back to my typical dreams: A bike ride during which my shoelace momentarily gets caught in the chain, but then comes free; a search in my closet for a particular hoodie that I just can't seem to find.

But during that brief stretch of 3-D Imax nightmares, I did learn a thing or two about typical behavior in dreams. Here are a few of them:

1. You're never wearing clothes. Yes, you're in very public places, and yes, everyone else is wearing clothes. But not you. You're butt-naked. You wish you had thought to put on clothes ... but you didn't.

2. You're always running late. Really late. (This is probably one of the reasons you're never wearing clothes.) You keep getting to Starbucks or the post office just after they've closed, or to your geometry test that's already in progress.

3. Speaking of tests, you're never prepared for them. You've probably never attended the class, not even once. Good chance you're not even taking the course the test is in.

4. What's more, you're taking these tests even though you're an adult with grown children. But you're not an adult in the dream; you're back in school. But the kids in your dream are your real children's friends ...

5. Even though you know the majority of characters in your dreams, none of those characters seems to know one another. That's because they're from all different walks of your life: Your neighborhood, your office, your college, the town where you grew up. And some of the characters? You just can't figure out who they're supposed to be. And that's really aggravating.

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you. Very important: No matter how vivid and amazing and riveting and cataclysmic your dream, don't bother trying to re-create it scene by scene to your spouse. It will seem about as interesting as that search for your lost hoodie.

Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, can be followed on his blog "Beagle Man" on the Westport News website -- http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/. Hank can be followed on Twitter @BeagleManHank and reached by email at DoubleH50@gmail.com.