Listen. I promised you a long time ago I would never write about my dreams, since, whenever anyone starts telling me about one of theirs, I have to fight hard to stay awake.
But I’ve gotta tell ya.
Lately, I think I’ve earned a master’s degree in conjuring stressful scenarios in my sleep. Sometimes I wake up and I’m actually impressed.
For example — and warning: the following paragraphs will contain an overview of an actual dream — this morning, I woke up from a dream in which I am at the hospital where my husband works. He is being inducted as chief of staff.
As part of the celebration, me and people from administration are all standing around the hospital swimming pool (which doesn’t exist) and a dead body is floating in it. But then someone tries to scoop it up with a pool skimmer and it is actually alive, albeit a Frankenstein-like monster. When he animates, everyone is super impressed by the party trick and decides my husband William should get thrown into the pool.
So he’s in the pool with Frankenstein, who throws him in the water, as you playfully do with children, but when my husband surfaces, he’s cut his head on the side of a diving block and he’s bleeding like crazy.
I start frantically running around trying to get someone to call 9-1-1, because even though we’re in a hospital, everyone agrees that transport by ambulance is more convenient. Of course, my phone doesn’t work and, besides, I can’t manage to press the numbers correctly anyway. So I find a 1960s-esque switchboard room and start begging everyone in there (who are likewise from the 1960s — I know because of their haircuts and cigarettes) to call 9-1-1, but they seem equally confused about how to use a cell phone. Finally, someone tells me it will be faster to take him to the hospital (which we’re in) by myself.
So I return to my husband to discover that the cut on his head actually extends from neck to torso and all the way down his leg, where he has started developing an infection (likely caused by his proximity to Frankenstein) that makes his skin look like it belongs to a dinosaur, complete with pyramid-shaped scales. Some nurse has managed to staple his head closed, so we start walking to get to the car.
But he’s bleeding on the floor and I can’t manage to make William stop from mopping it up with one of those fluffy dust mops janitors use for school hallways.
That’s when I wake up.
I mean, come on. Is that even fair? I’m lucky I didn’t have a heart attack mid-REM.
See, I get the kind of dream where you can’t get your phone to work. Frustrating, right? You are trying so hard to input those numbers in the right order. You can’t really understand why it’s so hard, but, man, it’s hard and though you’re scared, you’re also just a tiny bit impressed you’ve ever been able to use a phone.
Throw a rotary phone in the dream and you know you’re effed. I’ve even had dreams where I see the rotary phone and don’t even try, I immediately just start running around asking for help.
Then you’ve got the monster element. It’s interesting that it’s Frankenstein, because I’ve never been that scared of him (I’ve always figured I could outrun him). But after this morning, I realize Frankenstein is scary because, deep down, I’ve always assumed he oozes infection. Like, he seems like an oozy guy. Put him in the pool with someone you love? No good will come from that.
Then you’ve got the dead body that’s floating in a pool. I mean, that’s some disturbing imagery during a chief of staff induction, right? That someone just decides to use a pool skimmer to try to fish him out? Wow, that’s cold. That heartlessness would be the scariest part of the dream if not for the meticulousness of my husband trying to wipe up his own blood with a dust mop.
Any type of delay in a dream, delays over which you have zero control, are just the worst. Because, I mean, the stakes are generally pretty high.
Anyway, throw all of those elements together and I think you’ll agree you have the makings of self-torture.
And so, though it took me nearly 15 years of me writing this column before I did, I broke my promise and told you about a dream. But I do promise it will be 15 years before I tell you about another one, so you’re welcome there. In the meantime, let’s acknowledge the only true part of my dream, which is that my husband is now chief of staff at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital. Congrats, my love!