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RSVPhillippi | JuLY 2017


Welcome to My Nightmares

By Dennis Phillippi

The nightmare part of my recurring nightmare is always the same; I have agreed to do some kind of show but I don’t know what it is or what I’m supposed to do in it and I spend the entire dream assuring everyone that everything is perfectly fine as I frantically, fervently, try to discover what the show is and what I’m expected to do in it. I always wake up just before the show starts, and before I find out my role. It is not a pleasant experience. That’s probably why it’s called a nightmare.

Recently I was discussing this with some friends and it turns out my dream isn’t that different from others, it’s just more show businessy. Most of the people in the conversation have a similar dream where they’re about to fail to meet expectations. Bartenders dream that they have forgotten how to bartend. Accountants can’t remember how to operate a ten key. Videographers can’t get to where they’re suppose to video. Yes, I was having this conversation with my wife, and accountant, my buddy, a videographer, and, yes, at a bar.

This inspired me to look into the whole nightmare thing, mainly because I had no other column ideas, which is yet another nightmare of mine.

According to various places on the Interweb, so you know it’s true, one of the most common nightmares is the feeling or experience or being lost or trapped. This is very easy to believe because both being lost and being trapped are very scary things. Personally, because I am a man, I never cop to being lost. It’s a gender thing. As for being trapped, try being a comedian when someone wants to tell you a joke. There is no escape. It doesn’t matter how sternly you warn them that is not going to be a fun experience, they plow right ahead. When they get to the punchline and all they get is a blank stare they always get mad at me. They were warned.

One of the most common nightmares I hear people talk about is the drowning dream. Luckily for me, swimming was my sport and this isn’t a dream I have. I have dreams of drowning in debt, of drowning in self-pity, and of drowning in my own good intentions, but water, never.

One site claimed that a nightmare many people experience is their phone malfunctioning. For one thing, my wife and I are too cheap to get the latest phone, or even the second or third latest phone, so our phones malfunction all the time. This one is a generational dream. My younger friends rarely go more than a few seconds without looking at their phones so I can see why many of them would have nightmares about them not working. If their phone doesn’t work they might not see that video of that baby snuggling with that raccoon, or see today’s joke about a topic I don’t care about, or God forbid, they might miss something happening in someone’s life who does something other than stare at their phone all day.

Most everyone I talked to has had the naked dream, or some variation on the naked dream. For me it’s the pantsless dream. For some inexplicable reason I am often sans pants as I search for a script for the play I’m about to be in, but haven’t rehearsed. It’s bad enough that I have to try to covertly inquire as to the nature of the performance without arousing suspicion, but it’s doubly bad to be doing so in my underpants. Other people I talked to said that their naked dream always involves becoming aware that they are naked in the middle of some public occasion. The reason I never have that version is that has actually happened to me a couple of times.

Apparently a lot of people have bad dreams about disasters. I’m sure in this part of the country it’s mostly about tornadoes, because we’re unlikely to be hit by a tsunami. These disasters can also be terrorist attacks, or nuclear war, or other manmade horrors. You know why I don’t have disaster nightmares? Because I opened for Soupy Sales and interviewed Steven Segal twice, I have experienced disasters.

By some accounts, dreams of illness or impending death are also pervasive. Again, I actually did die, onstage, for a year before I figured out how to do stand up comedy. Each one of those little five minutes of death throes on stage, while the audience stared at me as if I weren’t wearing pants, has hardened me against fears of my own mortality.

On one list I saw “poor test performance” listed as a big one. Since I was a truly terrible student who was both apathetic and lazy, this one leaves me alone.

There is, of course, the falling dream. Everyone I talked to about this one has had it. The experience of falling off of a cliff or out of a plane or off the top of a building, it doesn’t matter where you start, all that matters is you’re plummeting. You see the ground rushing towards you and you are unable to do anything about your certain impact. Honestly, I started to sweat a little just typing that. It’s strange to me that so many of us have this dream when you consider how few of us have actually ever plummeted. It would make more sense for everyone to have a nightmare about our current political landscape not being a nightmare from which we will eventually wake.

I’m surprised more people don’t have the flying nightmare. Not the sweet flying dream where you learn you can soar like a bird, I mean the flying nightmare where you realize you’re in an overbooked flight on United.