Tiger, tiger, burning bright

I never remember my dreams.  And when I say, “never”, I mean that once every 4 - 5 years, I’ll awake suddenly and a vaporous 3 seconds or so will linger in my sentience, then make a quick exit through my nostrils when I exhale.  These infrequent and fleeting visitations are the only evidence I can cite that I actually have dreams, but they’re a comfort, because we all know that a person who doesn’t dream eventually becomes a serial killer (if he isn’t one already and has simply repressed the memory(s)).

This paucity of material is hardly grist for psychoanalysis, let alone for blogging, and you’re probably wondering why I’m wasting electrons and your precious time with it. Well, it’s a setup for this shocking disclosure: it happened this morning, and the sequence I remember lasted a good 5 - 10 seconds!

In it, I was walking down a long hall that extended through several rooms, and this place was presumed to be my residence, although it didn’t look like my real residence and in fact was more like one of my clients’ warehouse. Two or three rooms in the distance, I caught a glimpse of a large cat (cougar, leopard) crossing the hall and headed outside through an open door.  I had a half-second to register relief and begin to jump up on a table just in case (thinking as I did that a cat that size wouldn’t be deterred by a quick leap up onto what I then realized, with dawning irony, was a dining room table), when the lights went out at the end of the hall. Just then, I saw the cat rushing toward me out of the darkness.  I threw my arms up and yelled, “No! No!”. In the next half-second I realized that the cat had been in the process of running past me, and that I’d been a fool to attract its attention; and then I awoke, sitting bolt upright.

I wondered then if I’d actually hollered aloud, or only hollered in the dream.  Then I thought, no, even if I had that dream, which I’m not admitting that I had, I’m sure I have a healthy firewall between the alleged fantasy me and the real, dreamless me.  And then: “Was that you yelling? You woke me up!”  So I explained what I’ve just told you, and got a comforting hug in return, and I pretended not to notice “911″ dialed but not yet called on her cell phone.

I guess if you’re going to go to the trouble of remembering a dream that you might or might not have had, you may as well take a stab at interpretation. Why a cat? Why now? Does my subconscious know I have cancer and has cast it for its own purposes in the form of a dangerous feline? And has been trying its best to keep the bad news from me, and just fucked up big-time?  What is that thing on my arm?

And again, if I’m going to go to all that trouble, why this, and not a wild and vivid sexual fantasy instead (one that would certainly last more than 5 - 10 seconds, thank you very much)? Just my luck, I guess, because if I’d rent the night with cries of “Yes! Yes!” instead of “No! No!”, I’d have been beaten to death with her current nightstand collection of Virginia Woolf novels instead of the wary cosseting I was actually afforded.

OK, can we sleep now for another hour?


  1. I think serial killers must dream, it’s what they dream about that is really spooky. I think dreaming about cougars or leopards is a great thing, even if they are chasing you. It’s what they do in dreams! I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever dreamed of big cats without some sense of menace. Probably not. Welcome to dreamland, Phil!

  2. beatriz:

    Sigh. Well, to paraphrase a friend’s usual observation about the written word, part of this is fiction, but not all. He forgot the part about me hiding the scratching post…

  3. Well, you ARE reading Virginia Woolf…and you’ve beaten me to death before, so it’s a minor extrapolation.

    I suppose you’re treating yourself to pedicures instead?

  4. Carroll:


    Geez, Phil — you made us wait the better part of three whole months for *that*?


    Actually, there’s a part of this post which speaks to me quite profoundly — a story I need to write up myself in fact, and which you might just have inspired me to do sooner rather than later. Don’t hold your breath, but I’ll send you a copy when/if it makes it past the keyboard.

    And please don’t misunderstand my initial remark - your stuff is *always* worth waiting for :-)

  5. Phil:

    Well, Carroll, I decided to start small. I was being killed under the weight of having to catch up with stuff I’d missed, and then the onus of a mammoth year-end retrospective. I may no longer be capable of grandiosity.

    Please forward whatever you get down. I’ve never understood why you don’t blog. Unless you do, and don’t want to cut me in.

  6. Carroll:

    Hah — no worries, Phil. Were I blogger, you’d have known about it long-since — and would undoubtedly still be among my probably three or so faithful readers :-)

  7. I used to remember dreams, vividly, but haven’t in awhile. The most recent one that stuck with me had something to do with walking down a farm road with a casual acquaintance who, I was convinced, was planning to kill me. We were heading to a family event (his family, I think…it’s been awhile) where I was afraid his wife was planning to admit to an affair with me. He would, of course, kill me when she revealed her secret. Of course I knew neither of them and certainly don’t recall any recent affairs (or old ones, for that matter) that would have prompted this scenario. So I trust your cat encounter was similarly based on a foundation of an upset stomach, too much to drink, or an exceptionally powerful caffeine infusion from some very, very good coffee.