2009-01-02 / On Second Thought

It's not a criticism, it's an observation.

Some dreams should not come true
Mike Cox

I had a nightmare last night that jolted me awake in a cold sweat. I dreamed I was back in high school; a gigantic, unfamiliar one. According to experts, we address our fears in dreams; this one would confuse Freud.

I was trying to find my second period class before the bell rang. The place was larger than AIG's bailout check. There were no familiar faces, the sections were not clearly numbered, and no one would respond to me.

At one point, I was roaming around inside someone's home, which was part of the building. People were getting ready for school and work as I wandered through their bedrooms and kitchens. No one seemed upset, so this must have been a regular occurrence.

I finally stumbled on the guidance counselor, much like the one I had in high school. He was disheveled and wore old clothes, and his hair was dyed and needed washing. The girls loved him.

He informed me my enrollment packet included a DVD of the school's layout, which should make it easy for anyone with any intelligence to find their way. The DVD was sponsored by Mungo, the monolithic home builder in Columbia who seems to be intertwined with the local school boards.

The counselor handed me off to the assistant principal, a bureaucratic, close to retirement fellow, who didn't want to be bothered. He told me I should go stand in the information line for help. The line stretched further than the one to see Santa in

A Christmas Story. When I turned to point that out to him, he had disappeared. Through the entire episode I was naked. It's hard to say who was most traumatized, me or the poor folks in my dream. At that point, I realized I must be dreaming if I was back in high school, so I willed myself to wake up.

The whole thing got me wondering how dream experts come to be dream experts. Is there a college course for such things? Who first did the research to determine what caused a person to dream his mother was chasing him with a feather boa and suddenly changed into his high school football coach? Other than Freud, few people are considered pioneers in this field. Is dream analysis a respected area of study or kind of a quack science?

A special the other night on Nova discussed the search by scientists for absolute zero; the coldest temperature known to exist. I always thought that happened somewhere in Minnesota, but it turns out to be a scientific problem involving turning gas into liquid. People with much more brain access than I have been dealing with this for nearly 300 years.

I marveled at how hard this problem has been and how long scientists have been working on it. Explosions, industrial accidents, and brushes with religious authority figures have plagued these guys as they moved closer to a solution.

Speculating about someone's dreams just seems so lame by comparison. I'm sure they are scientists and hard working experts, but the other guys probably make fun of them at Dungeons and Dragons conventions.

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