In Dreams

“Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” David Thoreau, seminal figure in the history of American thought.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the U.S.

“I dreamed I showed up for my SAT’s in the nude.” D.W. Clark, a guy I know who showed up for his SAT’s in the nude while wide awake.

Maybe you’ve never had my nightmare. It’s probably necessary to have once been a radio DJ—but here’s the bad dream: The song you are playing is coming to an end, and you suddenly realize you don’t have another tune cued up. Not only that, but you can’t even think of anything to say. There are no commercials to play, no news to read—as the song fades and there is nothing but dead air. Then I wake up, sweating.

It turns out, as I talk to others from the radio trade, the dream is a typical one—although it not so common among talk show hosts—who don’t usually play music and could never imagine themselves with nothing to say.
My wife, once a waitress, says she has a recurring nightmare about having too many customers to serve. A friend of hers, who actually owns a restaurant, has nightmares about having NO customers to serve.
Word is that a person of 75 years of age spends 25 years asleep. So far, my neighbor’s nine-month old has slept about 20 minutes. The kid’s got some catching up to do. The good thing is that the baby probably hasn’t had many nightmares yet—at least not the kind about their teeth falling out.

Some experts say there are 12 universal dreams, either scary or pleasant. (Bakers have 13.) Some think such dreams are predictors of the future—but I’m not so sure. I’ve been having dreams about flying for years, yet have never awakened and been able to lift off the floor. Except once when the cat startled me.

Being naked in public is a very common nightmare scenario. Experts say it reflects our conscious fears of exposure and embarrassment. I wonder if porn stars have nightmares about being fully clothed.

I had a girlfriend in college who always wanted to tell me about her dreams. I dreaded it because they were always so boring.

“I dreamed I was sitting on a park bench watching a squirrel,” she’d say. “What do you think that means?”
“That’s classic,” I’d say between yawns. “You are burdened by an urge to harness nature, and yet feel powerless to do so.”

A look of understanding washed across her face. “Yes! Yes! That is SO me!”

I think the business of dream interpretation is so big these days because most people can’t bear the thought that their dreams might not actually mean anything at all.

For example, a nightmare about missing an airplane flight is interpreted by some as indicating that the dreamer is missing out on something in their waking life. Sure. On the other hand, it could also have everything to do with having pizza with anchovies right before bedtime.
I remember my uncle Johnny once telling me to try and make my dreams come true. That very night I dreamed of robbing a bank. That was ironic, because my uncle Johnny was a cashier for a bank at the time. He later moved on to something else. Jail.

But the most common dream—one that more than 80 percent of people have—is that of being pursued or chased. While it is not always clear whom or what is doing the pursuing—it is most often a monster, a giant or a telemarketer.

The flipside is a dream about being embraced or loved. The lover in such dreams is most often a spouse, a secret admirer—or a telemarketer.
Dreams can be awfully confusing.