Parting Glances: Dreaming of Tophat's Pink Garters

BY CHARLES ALEXANDER

I was five years old when I had my first vivid dream. Still vividly recalled today. Imagery was induced by counting to 10, drifting off to dreamland, as ether was applied drop by drop to a mask placed over my unsuspecting little nose for a routine tonsillectomy.

The operation was performed in 1941 at downtown Detroit's now-forgotten Burt Shurly Hospital, overlooking Grand Circus Park. (The several-storey metal facade of its vanished building curiously still stands today.)

I dreamed of a boy gracefully skating in circles -- round, round, round, round -- on an ice-covered pond. Curiously, I had never witnessed anyone ice skating. (That it was a boy skater augured well for my future formative temperament. That, plus the fact I got to eat lots of vanilla ice cream and tapioca pudding for weeks afterward.)

I kept a dream journal a few years ago. I recorded over 100 dreams, which is pretty good considering that dreams are like exotic butterflies. Unless netted, quickly they flutter back into the mental twilight zone and vanish forever.

Cats, dogs, parrots, Log Cabin Republicans dream. (The latter on occasion having full-blown, Donald Trump wake-up-screaming nightmares.) Dreams happen about every 90 minutes and are evidenced by REMs, rapid eye movements. We dream, as our eyes move up and down underneath our eyelids.

The secret of capturing a dream is telling yourself at bedtime that you'll remember it upon awakening, and having pencil and paper handy to jot down details while they're fresh. (You may not get back to sleep, but you've got clues to show for time spent diddling with the LGBT Rainbow Sandman. And sometimes, fortunately as we get older and older, we do get to diddle.)

I reread my dream journal recently, thinking I might make a bundle by selling it on eBay. It was fascinating. Embarrassing. X-rated shock theater. No wonder psychoanalysts find their couch-work such fun. My shrink appointment's next Tuesday, by the way.

Here's a sample, dated July 5, 2010: 6:35 a.m.: "I'm with Astaire Tophat. (I have no idea who he is, was, or wasn't.) He's svelte, athletic, box office show-biz type. We're looking at a Broadway musical poster to determine what's gay about its content.

"Look for the pink garters," suggests Tophat. We get closer. Close enough to gingerly tango, dip, soft shoe it. Only to find there are no chorus-line pink garters. I see a purple T-shirt on one of the dancers, emblazoned with UNDERSTUDy! "There's your clue!" whispers Tophat seductively. "It won't be easy! That's for darn sure," I answer, as Tophat shouts, "Everybody high kick your 10!"

Although dreams like this can be off-the-wall, off-Broadway, they keep us from going insane. (If you go without sleep for more than 48 hours -- say during a rave party thrown with non-stop beats -- you can expect later to experience daytime distortions of perception, maybe hints of party-poop psychosis.)

The Guinness world record for going without zzzz is 264 hours,11 minutes, held by a straight but really bent DJ who reportedly never fully recovered from his stay-awake experiment.

Of all the sweet dreams I've had, none compares with what's called a Lucid Dream. It's a real mind trip, and for about 60 seconds or so that it lasts it's Life in the Fourth Dimension (and sometimes Love). No question about it: the mind has a Mind of its own.

You can fly. Touch "solid" surroundings. Explore. Ask questions of "people". (Like life, you may not get intelligent answers.) Or have a fleeting fantasy fling. (I lucid dreamed one blond hottie who, when refusing to fling was told, "Hey, guy, it's my dream. You exist because of me. Now get with the program! He did. It was, well, mind blowing. Safe sex. Though we haven't fantasy flung since.)

A bit of dream trivia: San Francisco's Nonatal and Obstetrical Research Lab studied pregnant women's dream imagery. Researchers found these reoccurring images: (first trimester) frogs, worms, potted plants; (second) furry animals, cuddly kittens; (third) lions, monkeys, Barbie dolls.

Take lucid dreaming comfort. A wet dream in time saves nine!

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