November 23, 2007

No Dreamers Allowed

Three days ago I called a buddy of mine I hadn’t spoken to in a while to wish him a happy Thanksgiving. Though we don’t get to talk or visit each other often anymore, our friendship is such that we can pick up the phone anytime and pick up where we left off. I’ve known him for twenty six years, and we’ve experienced a lot together, and I’ve watched his two sons grown from mere babies to young men in their twenties.

During our conversation, we ended up discussing dreams. He told me that his oldest son’s girlfriend bought a book on dream interpretation and has taken to asking everyone, including him, about their dreams to analyze them. To know my friend Nat, you have to understand how he is and what he looks like. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, is in his early fifties (he’s ten years older than me), is very large with a close cropped beard. He looks like someone the director of a movie would order up from central casting to play a mafia hit man. Ask him his dreams? His son’s girlfriend is "lucky she’s good looking", he told me jokingly.

The subject of dreams hit a nerve with me. Nat fully knows after over a quarter of a century of friendship that I’d rather visit a dentist than hear someone tell me their dreams. He bought up the dream book his son’s girlfriend toted around because of an incident at his house over twenty years ago when me, Nat, my friend Mike, my other friend Mike, and my late friend Wade were seated at the kitchen table in Nat’s house playing cards. Yes, there were three "Mikes" in our group. Another guy, Danny showed up to play, but he came to the game late and to wait for a new hand to be dealt before he could join us. I really didn’t know Danny that well and he seemed like an alright guy, and we let him hang around because he always brought beer with him.

During the hand Danny sat next to me and tried to look at my cards. That annoyed me and I shifted myself to hide my hand. I had a full house and the stakes were pretty high. I’d say there were about two bucks in nickels in the pot (hey, it’s better than playing for matches) and I didn’t want to be disturbed as I felt the need to concentrate. Danny wanted to feel included so he started to talk… a lot. Worse yet, he started to tell us all about a dream he had the night before. Nat, Mike, Mike and Wade all buried their faces in their cards and Danny turned himself and talked directly to me, as if I gave a damn what he dreamt about. I was playing poker and I needed to place a bet and Danny was becoming annoying. Normally, I’d let it slide, but he was killing my concentration and I was becoming frustrated. After clearing my throat a couple of times (ahem) Danny didn’t get the hint. Right around the point where he was telling me about the creepy house with the crooked steps and the weird lights inside, I snapped.

“Hey look Danny,” I said, dropping my cards on the table. Nat, Mike, Mike and Wade chuckled as they knew what was coming. I didn’t want to be rude, but he couldn’t keep quiet; and besides, he bought Meister Brau. That’s the kind of beer you’d buy at a dog fight.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t listen to you tell me about your dream, okay?" I said. "I don’t care what’s it’s about, I don’t care if I’m in it, and I don’t care if you have a vision of me getting killed by a falling safe and you want to warn me. I just don’t care. Dreams don’t mean anything.”

Surprised at how harsh I sounded, I smiled a bit and smacked him on the shoulder in a playful kind of way.

“But, I think this dream does mean something. My Grandfather was in it and he died five years ago.”

“Tell me later.” I said.
“But, I think you’d appreciate this Mike, you know about like, psychology.”
“Hey Dan, what I know is that we’re trying to play cards. I need to concentrate. I don’t know anything about psychology, and I can’t stand to listen to other people tell me their dreams, okay? The only time I will listen to anyone tell me about their dreams is if her name is Heather Locklear and she dreams that we're in a hot tub together, and we're both naked."

To this day, Nat still laughs about that because his wife, Angie walked into the kitchen at the exact second I said “we’re both naked.” It was a bit awkward explaining to her what I was talking about.

My thoughts on dreams stood for decades, including all the way up to that phone call and in spite of my slight awkwardness in front of my friend’s wife. That was until the other morning after I woke up my eight year old son to get him ready for school. He came downstairs for breakfast after getting dressed looking a bit glum. I was on the couch with a cup of coffee and the newspaper and I called him over. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he had a bad dream and it was bothering him. My typical response to an adult would have been to immediately hold up my hand and warn them that they were entering hostile territory. Dreams aren’t welcome here.

I sat up listened to him talk. He told me that he had a dream about Grandma and it was really sad. My son has had a tough time dealing with the loss of my mother and there have been more than a few times where I had to cuddle him in my arms as he cried to sleep. That morning, after hearing him tell me he had a bad dream about my mother, I pulled him close to my side.

“I dreamed that Grandma was dying, and all of the doctors went away, and I was alone with her. There were all these machines and I didn’t know how to use them and I told grandma not to die, but she did.”

This little man of mine had so much love for his grandma he dreamed of wanting to save her. He leaned on me and cried muffled sobs as he pressed his face into my side. I held him and stroked his hair and kissed the top of his head. My boy, my son, he was breaking my heart.

I thought back to my phone call with Nat, his son’s girlfriend and her book of dreams, and Danny asking me what his dream about is dead grandfather meant. I was rude and immature back then. With my young boy’s tears falling on my shirt next to my own, I told him that his grandma loved him so much; and that she was in his dreams because he missed her. It was okay for him to dream about her, I told him.

We sat for a while before I carried him to the kitchen for breakfast. If I had to do it all over again, I still might not have listened to Danny. I was a young man who wasn’t very touchy-feely and didn’t want to get emotional during a card game. But, over two decades later, Danny managed to teach me a lesson although he wasn’t around to watch me learn it. Dreams do mean something. They mean something to the person who experienced them. Still, I’ll only listen if you’re a child of mine who wants to tell me about the scary house with the creepy lights or if a safe is going to fall out of a building on my head.

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Kathy said...

Wonderful and touching story. Your stories always draw me in. Every time!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy,
The dream my son had happened just a few days ago, so this is still fresh. I am glad to have you as one of my readers. Thanks, Kathy. Have a terrific weekend. -Mike

AntiBarbie said...

I used to have those kinds of dreams about both my dad and my grandfather after they died. We all mourn differently and I think all it means is that your little boy really misses his grandma.

I'm sure some dreams do have hidden meanings. The subconscious takes up a very large part of our brains and it will have it's say in one form or another.

Hope you had a great holiday.

Anonymous said...

Excellent story Mike. Really well done. Enjoyed it immensely and brought a much needed smile. Oh by the way, I've got this dream I've been meaning to talk to you wait, you don't do dreams ... right? :-)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Antibarbie,
I am sure that dreams have deeper meanings. I see that more now than ever. Doesn't it bother you when you have dreams about those who died, such as your dad and your grandfather? My friend Wade whom I mention we were playing cards with in this story died shortly afterward and I dreamed about him for years. It's the mind's way of dealing with their passing. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and I really enjoy your writing. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD, Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Your opinion means a lot to me. As far as your dream is concerned, If your name is either Heather Locklear (yes, she is still HOT!) or Jennifer Connelly, you can only tell me your dreams IF...I think you know te rest, ha ha. Have a great weekend.

Kimchihead said...

I think dreams are about whatever is on your mind currently, or what you are presently going through.

Cyberpunk said...

I like having interesting dreams. I even write them down sometimes, but listening to others' dreams? Yeah, that can be boring. And I also don't believe much in dream interpretations.

It's touching how your child taught you to listen more to other folks. It's not really the person's dream that matters, but how that person feels about the dream.

Kristyn said...

Thank you for sharing that story, Mike. I suppose it's true what they say about people touching our lives in ways we could never, and may never, understand completely.


footiam said...

some people believe in dreams. some people don't. I don't give a damn. There may be truth in it but I am not looking. i have far better thing to do. Ha! Ha!

josey said...

to read about the very moment when a person truly understands how something they have always thought was trivial could be meaningful to someone else is extremely refreshing to me!

my mamaw (mom's mom) has been gone now for about 10 years or so. i grew up seeing her almost daily. i dream about her a few times a month. i've started to notice its usually when i'm stressed about something--and in the dream she is always there comforting me in some way. she never did that in real life, tho, because we just werent close that way. i wonder what it really means?

...oh, and i love how one of your tags for this ohsomoving post is heather locklear! LOL!! boys. ;)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kimchihead, I agree that dreams are definitely about what is going through your head at the moment. I might not always want to deal with that but I believe that's true too. Thanks for reading! -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Cyberpunk,
Nicely put "It's not really the person's dream that matters, but how that person feels about the dream.". That's what my son me that day, and I wish I wasn't so rude to Danny all those years ago. I appreciate you taking the time to read my story and leaving a thoughtful comment. I will be stopping by our site. Thanks. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kristyn,
It seems that Danny had an effect on me all those years laer. The irony here is that my friend Wade, also mentioned in the story died about a year later after that night and I still dream about him. What can is say? I miss the guy. I have to speed read through your blog lately, Kristyn, you're posting so much. I hope you are doing well. Thanks for reading. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Footiam,
Yes, I suppose that there are better things to do than to interpret dreams. Thanks for stopping by. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Josey,
You have some pretty keen insights into my story and that is inspiring for me when someone gets my stuff. Yes, what I thought was trivial to both Danny and my son turned out to be important. Thanks for seeing that. I'm not perfect and have been accused of being a bit of a social oaf. I'm sorry to hear about your Mom, though. I believe that she really is comforting you in your dreams. It may not be her in the sense that she lives in your dreams, but I think that is the mechanism for how we continue to live on in the folks we leave behind. My friend Wade who I talk about in this piece died about a year after this card game took place and I dream about him to this day. As far as Heather Locklear is concerned, my wife knows I've always had a thing for her. She just smiles and says: "Go for it." Like I have a chance. LOL. Of course, my wife is the only one for me. Thanks so much for stopping by Josey. I'll meet up with you at your blog! -Mike

josey said...


i have a few people in my family who tend to be stamped as the "callous" ones because their usual take on any situation that involves "sappy feelings" or the like comes off as though they dont care and are uncompassionate.

i try really hard to (gently) expose these people; they are like my little projects. LOL. not expose in a bad way, but just try to crack them open a tad bit so other more closed-minded people can understand where they are coming from. every single time, i find that its not because they dont care, but because they themselves havent had the opportunity to be touched in a way that the person who's feeling "sappy" did (if that makes sense!).

it bothers me that people cant see outside their own world view or experiences and realize that folks who may seem callous dont deserve to be labeled as "social oafs." we all have different perceptions of things that might touch our hearts and how far we allow them to come in, and we've all felt callous about certain issues so we should think about that before we label others as too hard-nosed.

i would guess the more mature you become, the more willing you are to "risk" sympathizing with something you once thought was insignificant or just plain silly. but, that's just my thoughts.

and i'm rambling! LOL. but its something that's actually recently come up in my family, so maybe that's why i caught on :)

oh, and my hubby has little crushes on a few famous women, altho he doesnt admit to it. LOL. i just always tease him when we see them like, "hey there's your babe!" hahaha! he just "hmmmms" and scolds me with his eyes cause he knows i know. haha! its all good and fun :)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Josey,
I think your comments not only make sense, but they are on the money. I think I did mature a bit to realize that my inability to appreciate someone's disturburbing dreams can be rude. My son taught me that. Of course, we'll do anything for our kids, right? I know what you are saying when you say the folks who are considered to be callous are your "projects." You wish to open them up because you care about them, and your appreciatetion for their feelings and their personal growth is touching. Your comments were not rambling, as you described. They are honest, thoughtful, and always welcome. I think all husbands have little "Hollywood honey's. My wife just groans and chuckles whenever Heather Locklear is in a commercial or is on a show. I see you go out of your way to expose your husband!("hey there's your babe!" hahaha!) Having a "Hollyhood Hottie" is not necessarily bad for us husbands, because wives aren't watching "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" (Dr. McDreamy)for the excellent writing and stunning cinematic style. Thanks again, Josey. I appreciate you stopping by! -Mike

Elaine said...

Hi Mike,

Hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones. I'm like Kathy in her comment "your stories always suck me in", I feel the same way. It's as if we're all sitting there at the card table and can sense your impatience with Danny.

I never give much thought to my dreams, most of the time I can't even remember them. However, if I started to have a recurring dream night after night that might get my attention :-)

Keep the great stories coming, we all enjoy reading them.

Lisa McGlaun said...


I think what you told your son was perfect. After my grandfather died I dreamed about him often. Some were scary, some were tender. I think it was me processing my feelings and the loss of someone so important to me.

Your son is a lucky boy to have you for a dad.


Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine,
I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you did as well. Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. I try hard to make my stories interesting, but mostly I just want them to be written well. If my words draw you in as you say, then that is a compliment. Thank you. As far as dreams are concerned, maybe my former impatience with folks who tell me about them is because of my indifference to my own dreams. However, like you, a recurring dream will definitely have an effect on me. Thanks again for the nice comments, Elaine. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
I believe that one dreams of their loved ones because we are dealing with grief, as you were when you dream of your grandfather. I appreciate your comment that my son is lucky to have me as a dad (you made me a bit choked up when I read that). However, I am the lucky one to have a two amazing and beautiful children like I have, as well as a terrific wife. Without her, I wouldn't be a dad. Thank you so much for reading my post, Lisa. I'm off to LifePrints now. See ya. -Mike.

The Writing Nag said...

beautiful story, it's my first visit your name drew me in!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Writing Nag,
It's nice to meet you. Thanks for your nice comment about my story. Also,thank you for your visit, and I hope you return for more. I bookmarked your site and I will visit there too. have a great day and thanks for stopping by. -Mike

Spirit said...

Aww, this is a very sweet story. I don't much like listening to people's dreams either. :) This is also my first visit to your blog. I'll deffinetly be checking back again soon. You write very frankly and that's a rare quality now days.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Spirit,
It is so nice to met you. I appreciate your kind comments about my post and my writing. I am glad I met someone who shares my views on listening to others tell about their dreams, it can get a bit dreary. I looked at your profile and i see that you are a writer too, and that you have a few sites as well. I will absolutely read them. Once again, I am glad to met you, and thank you so much for stopping by. -Mike

P.S. "Will write for food." Very cute.

Spirit said...

No problem you have a wonderful blog. :) You don't know the half of it on the dreary side, I run a site (outside of blogging) that might be considered a bit new age'ish and the subject comes up all the time. Alas, I tend to talk about the symbolism in different things often enough I get the bulk of the emails on it. They very carefully make their way towards my poor forum mods instead though. *evil grin*

PS> Food and writing- my two favorite things, what more could a person need after all?

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Spirit,
Thanks again for your compliments. I've added "Written Whispers" to the Friends of Mr. Grudge section. I look forward to more correspondence with you and thoughts on writing. Also, I will be reading all of your blogs and sites, especially the one you talk about here. Thanks for stopping by, Spirit, I appreciate it. -Mike.