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Lost Journal: To Sleep, Perchance to Bad Dream

Sep 242014
 By , September 24, 2014
Lost Journal: To Sleep, Perchance to Bad Dream

Journal entry: October 23, 1976 (age 7) – Bad Dreams

As my back sank against the cold tile wall, my arms flailed madly in a final, futile effort to keep IT from getting me. My heart, pounding on the door of my chest, wanted to be let out. I looked up into the harsh light and cried out the answer the thing was demanding of me. “Gerald Ford! Gerald Ford!!”

There was a pause. “That’s right, Timmy. And where are you now?” The questioner’s voice was transforming from demonic to dad-like. “The bathroom?” I said, looking confusedly around me. Why was I crouched in the bathtub, wearing my plaid flannel PJs? Why were my bleary-eyed parents standing over me, wearing their PJs? Why had the snarling, yellow, face-feasting fiend disappeared? (Had peer pressure sent him searching for his own PJs?)

That was last night. I’ve had lots of bad dreams before, but that one was a doozy. My older brothers said this one was in the all-time top 10 of “Timmy freak-outs.” All the bad ones end with a debriefing by my dad. He has a really deep, comforting voice, and it brings me back to Earth pretty quickly.

Now, I’m angry at myself for last night. I forgot to use a very useful trick I picked up a dozen dreams ago. During another recent visit from the Yellow Thing, it occurred to me that I was having a nightmare, and that I could simply choose to wake up. I remember smiling at the disappointed face of my corn-colored enemy as I melted from his grasp. “So long, sucker!”

I think my main monster spent the intervening waking hours coming up with an effective counter-attack. Last night, he pursued me with such full-throttle, screeching persistence that I didn’t have time to think about my state of consciousness. Next time, I’m going to stop him with a stiff arm right away and say, “Alright, hang on a second there, Sparky.” That’ll give me time to pull a sweatshirt over his head that says, “Kick me – I’m a figment.”

That will still leave me with the problems posed by my other recurring nightmare. I’m not sure it’s really a dream, though, because it doesn’t consist of sight and sound. It’s more of a “touchmare.” Sometimes when I’m lying in the dark, I feel the things around me getting bigger and heavier. My blanket suddenly feels like a thick slab of concrete, and everything in my bedroom starts to loom over me. This isn’t something that I see, but I always get the mental image of a single hair exploding out to the thickness of a tree trunk. It’s hard to breathe, because I feel like the whole world is crushing me.

Yeah, that one is worse. I’m trapped under all that weight, so I can’t get up and slam around the house until my parents wake up. I can’t even make a sound. I guess I could try the whole “I know this is a dream” thing, but I’d already be in my bedroom, so there’d be nowhere to travel back to. Plus, I’d need to bring a much bigger sweatshirt.

Another weird thing is that I can’t remember how that dream ends, or how I wake up. Maybe I finally manage to get out a single word: “Ow.”

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Buy your copy of "Lost Journal - the Book" at Each Lost Journal column is a journal entry written in retrospect. In other words, Mollen chooses a different day from his past, and writes about it as though it were today. The date may be last week, Halloween 1980, or the day he was born (May 4, 1969). Some of you may be asking, “But how would he have been able to write a journal entry on the day he was born?” To you he says: “Lighten up. It’s a humor column.” Mollen is a nationally syndicated columnist and actor, and he is available as a speaker on writing and humor.

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