Dream a little dream of me

Dreams have always played a big role in my family. We like to talk about them, analyze them, determine if the craziest ones have hidden meanings or are just brain trips.

Sometimes our dreams are prophetic, sometimes symbolic, sometimes hysterically funny, sometimes horrifically frightening. As I said, it’s a family affair.

Mother has always been big on dream analysis. I can lucid dream in an emergency — years of nightmares as a child made that a necessary skill — and my daughter, Liz, and I have had the same dream the same night twice that we’re aware of when she was a kid.

Ben was describing dreams in his highchair before he really had all the words he needed to explain them. One involved a bear biting his toes; he was quite earnestly upset about it and not even 2 years old.

Both kids inherited my propensity for youthful nightmares (and later insomnia).

In my severe nightmare years, from about 7 to 9, give or take a year or two on either end, I’d awaken too scared to scream or move and too scared to go back to sleep. Mother and Daddy were just a wall away, so Mother told me to knock on the wall anytime and she’d come into my room.

There’s no telling how much sleep she lost, but some nights I’d be too scared to even knock. Cathy and I shared a room in those days, but she was young enough to sleep through the commotion, though she had her own bout with nightmares a few years later.  We both had many snake dreams. Think Indiana Jones in the snake pit.

If our closet door happened to be open the least little bit, I could see our stiff crinoline petticoats.  I knew they were petticoats, but in the dark of my imagination, they were ghosts, on the worst nights.

Mother usually remembered to shut the door, though, or I’d remember to remind her.

One particular night, I thought I was awake and had knocked on the wall, so it was no surprise to see Mother standing at the foot of my bed in a pink peignoir, just like Barbie’s.  When I tried to talk to her, though, she slowly disappeared from the bottom up in a puff of pink smoke.

The fetching Elizabeth Montgomery/Samantha, not Mother, though they wore the same blonde flip.

It was scary, yet rather cool. Maybe it was prophetic, because about a year later, “Bewitched” became my favorite TV show, and the disappearing act looked like something Samantha pulled off easily. (And, as I’ve mentioned before, Mother resembled her a bit.)

A crazy-scary dream from those days probably sounds funny, but it was horrifying. We lived on the corner of W. 52nd and Marion, near North Heights Elementary School, a hilly neighborhood. In my dream I heard loud stomping, crashing and crumbling noises, and when I ran to the window to look out, I saw a gargantuan Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck lumbering along, crushing houses as they went.

Horrifying. Think beloved childhood friends meet the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. This was a good 21 or 22 years before “Ghostbusters.”

Active imaginations think alike? 

Another crazy childhood dream featured a giant, round homemade chocolate layer cake, with long spindly arms and legs and big cartoon hands and feet chasing me for all it was worth.

That one seems pretty obvious. I think my dislike of chocolate cake — it always tasted like soap — preceded the dream, but it could be the other way around, I suppose.

One more unusual dream from those days, then I’ll stop for the night. I can’t remember the dream itself, just the opening credits. I think it was the only time I dreamed in black and white. (Or “dreamt,” if you prefer the Britishism.)

The heavy velvet curtain opened to reveal a movie screen. I can’t remember the title, but I do remember the cast: “starring Laura, Cathy, Mommy and Daddy.” Can’t remember details, but it was pretty mundane, daily activity/non-threatening type stuff.

I’m reasonably sure that’s the only dream I’ve had with such an ostentatious opening.

As I got older, some dreams became more serious, more symbolic and more prophetic — though usually about totally random things, like dreaming the night before about something that would happen at school the next day.

That started in the Blackhawk Years. But we’ll talk about that another time.

In the meantime, sweet dreams.

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