Main | Friday, May 21, 2004

Eyes Wide Shut

Zachary hurled the aardvark at me derisively.

Taking advantage of Oona 2's low gravity, I pushed off the soft pink gravel surface, and sailed several yards up into the yellow, misty atmosphere.

The aardvark exploded harmlessly behind me. Zachary snorted and turned to his crew.

'Aren't you supposed to be helping me?', he snarled.

Yeardley, Xavier and Winston reluctantly got to their feet and walked over to the pressurized animal pen, where a baboon, a cheetah and a dachshund were patiently waiting to be thrown at me.

Anxiously, I checked the glowing O2 meter on my spacesuit. Damn, only 15 minutes left!

I suppose at this point I should mention that the scenario above is taken directly from one of my recurring nightmares. The animals always appear in alphabetical order and the members of the spacecrew appear in REVERSE alphabetical order. I'm not really sure WHY I'm being attacked, that part of the story has never been explained in my dream.

In my nightmare, I must name and pair the animals and crew in their correct regular and reverse alphabetical order, BEFORE my air supply runs out. Usually, my terror slowly heightens until I lose track of whether Milton should be throwing the newt, or if it should be Nelson throwing the mongoose. Somewhere around the M's and N's is when I wake up in a cold sweat.

All of this neatly ties together my fear of obsessive compulsive disorder, oxygen deprivation and exploding wildlife.

Most of my nightmares are pretty unusual.

Sure, I have the same recurring work-related nightmares like most people. Mine just don't happen to involve finding myself giving a presention in my underwear.

Instead, I continue to be plagued by a dream about my first job. I was a busboy at Red Lobster. Every night I came home from work reeking of fish, carrying a box of hush puppies.

I loved hush puppies. My sister teased me that I only took the job for the free hush puppies. One Saturday night after work, I ate so many hush puppies that I was up puking until sunrise.

That was the summer that the movie 'Alien' came out. To this day I have a nightmare in which I'm in horrible stomach pain, my belly grotesquely rolling and bulging....until a huge growling HUSH PUPPY bursts out, fangs dripping with bread crumbs.

Sometimes my nightmare is the one in which I'm the only who knows that global thermonuclear war is going to break out at any moment. I race from my office to my home and furiously stuff canned food into pillowcases, while calling my family and begging them to meet me at the Port Canaveral cruise ship port.

I'm not really sure WHY being on a cruise ship would be safe for us, but it definitely is, in the dream. Maybe all those Kathie Lee Gifford ads for Carnival Cruise Lines comforted me on some subconscious level.

At a recent dinner party I attended, conversation turned to recurring dreams. I mentioned a frequent dream I have, in which my father is chasing me down our driveway, with a big carving knife in his upraised fist.

Our host chuckled gleefully: 'Oh, Joe....hehehe...dreaming about your FATHER chasing you with a KNIFE! I wonder what a Freudian would say about THAT!"

I said: 'He probably wouldn't say too much, once I explained to him that when I was ten years old, MY FATHER CHASED ME WITH KNIFE!'

An uncomfortable silence ensued.

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