It's winter in the northland and I've got a mild cold. Laggy, draggin' ass, headache, sinuses full of cement. Pretty much like the rest of the year. It's snowing out, but not in a Norman Rockwell sort of way. It's January and it gets dark early. Or it stays dark. So last night, needing uninterrupted sleep for 8 hours, I took a dose of Tylenol Cold. I put on a movie, climbed into my bed with my latest end-of-the-world novel in case the movie didn't take, and immediately zonked out. It was like 8:30, and I was in the slot for a good, deep night of Z's.
Deep into the r.e.m.'s, I had a most vivid and disturbing dream. I don't analyze my dreams, when I remember them, which is rare. But this dream literally knocked me awake, it was so strong and compelling. I was so shaken by its timber and tone, I has adrenaline fueled shakes when I awoke around midnight. I slid out out of bed and went downstairs, grabbed a glass of milk and four chocolate chip cookies, scarfed 'em down, and played Call of Duty 'til four. By that point I was tired again and managed three more hours of sleep before the day started in earnest.
The dream? What I remember is that my son came into my bedroom crying out of guilt. See, he had given a smaller, weaker friend a swirly. For those uninitiated, it means one stuffs another's head into the toilet and flushes it while their head is in the bowl. In reality, my son would not do such a thing, but dream-boy was crying out to dream-dad, devastated that he'd bullied his friend. As dream-dad, I wigged. I seized my dream-son and dragged him to the bathroom. I grabbed him around the midsection and inverted him over the toilet. I remember the toilet was filthy looking, although in real life our toilets are reasonably clean. In the dreamscape it was speckled with shit, although I distinctly remember in the dream it wasn't crap splatter but rather sprinkles of rich chocolate powder. As my dream son screamed and pleaded for mercy, I was pleased that the toilet was not filthy, but rather chocolaty. And then I gave my dream son a swirly, so he'd know what it felt like. Wow, what an asshole I was as a dream-dad.
So, before I went down for cookies and milk, before I made the world safe one digital killing at a time, I crept into my real son's bedroom. He was snuggled up in bed, either dream-free or having happy ones. I leaned closely to his ear and gave him a gentle kiss. It must have tickled, as he turned over and sat up a bit. He smiled sleepily at me and said, "Hi, Dad." I whispered, "I love you" and gave thanks I was not the father of my dreams.