I recently had a dream where a female friend and I just started, you know, snogging like a couple of rabbits on Viagra, an act which was so inappropriate (even in my subconscious) that I woke up with a jerk at 3 AM saying to myself "What the fuck was that?"
Now personally, I hate waking up with jerks almost as much as I get creeped out by having erotic dreams about female friends for whom I feel no sexual attraction at all when I’m my normal waking self. I mean, why aren't I dreaming about one of the ones for whom I DO feel something more than friendship? Is that too much to ask?
Last week? Evidently, yes. Far be it from me to spend my sleeping hours in pleasant wish fulfillment. Oh no. My dreams have to be like my life -- they have to be based on wish withholding. When they're not based on desires I don't even know I have.
Which is not to say that I never have dreams about Other Guy's Girlfriends, The One I Can Never Sleep With Because It'll Ruin The Friendship, or That Brunette Reading Charlaine Harris At The End Of The Bar. But if I ever do have those dreams? It's usually the result of some deeply buried attraction that is clawing its vampiric way out of my subconscious and into the light of day. I think of these women as my Unloves, because they're the romantic version of the Undead. When I dream about bonking one of my Unloves, it's all about something I'm running away from taking an axe to the door and yelling "He-e-e-e-e-ere's JOHNNY!!!!!!" But when I dream about canoodling with one of my non-blood sisters? It's like I'm the evil creature of the night. Suddenly, I'm the Overlook Hotel, and I start to wonder: do I really have that room in me? Do I really feel that way? Or is there just a perverted little imp inside my sleeping mind who gets his jollies out of watching me do the horizontal mambo with Miss Pal and then waking up with the words “What the fuck was that?” on my 3 AM lips.
And then there’s the dream language issue. I don’t know about you, but the friends I dream about are usually there not because of who they are, but because of what they represent in my mind. They may be named Adam or Alice or Amy or Andy in real life, but in my dreams they’re all first name Ally, last name Gorical. You know how you have dreams where somebody you meet is two completely different people at the same time, like a personal friend and a famous person all wrapped up in one? Well I have dreams where everybody’s real and symbolic, like Tarot cards, characters in Everyman, and the entire cast of James Joyce’s Ulysses. (Speaking of which, Happy Belated Bloomsday.) Because, y'know, my dreams are not just about repressed desire, or screwed-up screwing. They're about self-knowledge, God damn it. He said. Hopefully.
So in that spirit -- and because it weirded me out so much to have that snogging rabbits dream last week that I started seriously thinking about all the other dreams I've had like that in my life -- here, for your edification and amusement, are five of the Major Arcana in my personal Carnal Tarot deck:
The one I can never sleep with because it will ruin the friendship. Real life model: Carole Stamm. Actual dream: we were having sex in a very tiny claw-foot bathtub (no water in it; me on the bottom), and we had forgotten to close the door, so during the whole thing I am (a) trying to shift position so my back isn’t killing me and (b) getting totally distracted by my naked male roommate typing up a letter in his bedroom down the hall. Dream symbolism: regret; lost opportunity; chronic back pain.
Other guy’s girlfriends. Real life model: Donna Andreozzi. Actual dream: a series of six or seven over the space of two years, during which she’d knock on my bedroom door and come in wearing next to nothing, I would make a half-hearted attempt to be loyal to my best friend Tom, she would give me a kiss that would kick loyalty out the window, and then we’d make the beast with two backs while she complained about Tom all night. These conversations were always totally identical to the conversations we had on the phone, except for the sex. Dream symbolism: guilt; nothing is ever perfect; just because you’re sleeping with someone, that doesn’t mean you aren’t thinking about somebody else.
The friend I now and then imagine something else with. Real life model: Sheila Greene. Actual dream: we were scientists working in a laboratory and, when we used the lab table to do our version of the Jack Nicholson/Jessica Lange kitchen table sex scene in the Postman Always Rings Twice remake, I accidentally knocked over a couple of beakers of highly volatile chemicals, causing a nuclear explosion. The moment before I woke up remains imprinted in my mind as the most keenly felt sensation I have ever had of various parts of my body being pulled and pushed at the same time. Dream symbolism: pleasure versus responsibility; carelessness; walking dynamite.
The one I secretly want to sleep with but don’t have the nerve to ask. Real life models: oh jeez, do you want them alphabetically or chronologically? Actual dreams: they all follow the same pattern. 1: I see you and my heart leaps. 2: You don’t even know I exist, do you? 3: Hey, you’re looking at me. 4: Hey, you’re smiling! 5: Whoa, you wanna do what? 6: Wow, I must be dreaming! 7: Well, actually, I am. 8: Whoops -- waking up now. Dream symbolism: frustration; fear of success; she is not thinking of me.
The bullet I better dodge or God help me. Real life model: Kate Barnes. Real life dream: it’s a doozy. Took place in the Marshfield cottage, where I found myself lying on my parents’ bed and watching Kate dress herself in various articles of my mother’s clothing. Dream symbolism: Go To Therapy. Go Directly to Therapy. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200. And do not be at all surprised when Kate starts sleeping with your boss.