The darkest of dark fathers is sitting alone in the diner. And, just my luck, he is sitting at my table.
I meander over, tray shaking, to bring him his meal. Hamburger. French fries. Don’t ask me how he is going to eat this now without his life support system.
“Can I get you anything else?”
That’s when I realize that Darth Vader does not have a bottle of ketchup at his table, and I forgot to bring him one. Looks like my shift may at least end up Motti style.
This scene is one of my earliest memories of a nightmare. Possibly the strangest diner this side of Twin Peaks, and a terrifying scene for my three or four year old self. I can’t remember exactly how old I was.
The other nightmare I recall having around this age also relates to science fiction and, strangely enough, tomatoes.
As a child I was very afraid of Klingons and the Ferengi, because I had decided they were very grumpy aliens. I’m not sure why grumpiness was such a fear factor for me as a kid. I was also very scared of King Triton. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t yet know who Donald Trump is.
This second nightmare involved being on board the Starship Enterprise, uncomfortable bodysuit and all, and the door swooping open to at least a dozen Klingons.
They were, of course, grumpy. And evidently grumpy due to something I had done, because they all started throwing tomatoes at me.
Of course the Borg are much more terrifying, so I am glad they weren’t behind the Klingons and armed with marinara sauce or something.
I had begun to reflect on childhood nightmares this week amid all of the jokes about Boston starting to feel like Hoth. And, you know, with the state of our current commutes it is starting to feel a little bit more Battle of Hoth. And we’re all the Rebel Alliance.
Jokes and tauntauns aside, Hoth also really frightened me as a kid. Ok, not so much Hoth, but AT-ATs and any Imperial Walker.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Star Wars and still do.
It’s really strange, actually, that the nightmares I had as a kid so often revolved around themes I liked.
More often than not, I would be having a normal dream, when an AT-AT or other walker would come crashing through the scenery. And not one Ewok to throw rocks at it.
I also had a recurring dream where I’d be in a mall, and then the T-Rex from Jurassic Park would come crashing through. It was pretty scary. I mean…malls. Blech.
The dinosaur, along with some raptors, would also make in appearance at my school. In my dreams.
And I was a dinosaur obsessed child. I had stuffed dinosaurs. Figurines. Dragons. I watched The Land Before Time like it was my job, along with pretty much any dinosaur movie. Prehysteria. We’re Back. Jurassic Park was like my dream come true and yet it turned into a nightmare in my mind.
But then, a lot of my friends cited childhood nightmares so similar to things they loved. For instance, loving the Wizard of Oz, but having the wicked witch show up in nightmares. Or the shark from the Little Mermaid. Or Sid’s toys from Toy Story.
As I grew up, the recurring nightmares evolved into
a) car accidents
c) alien invasion
Not surprisingly, the car accident dreams started around the time I started driving. I don’t have tornado dreams so much anymore, and they actually may have stopped around the time I decided not to pursue a degree in meteorology. One day my dream tornado came by and swooped up my drum set. I may have been so mad at it that it never came back.
The alien dreams always stay, though. It’s an irrational fear, and especially odd since I love science fiction.
I mean, what do you do? Stay in the city and end up hoping Will Smith saves you?
Run to the middle of nowhere to hide in the mountains, and hope the aliens know solfege?
Of course, the standard grown up dreams never fail to arise.
I went to floss but then all of my teeth fell out!
I went to the bathroom but then the door disappeared!
I’m still in school and I have an exam tomorrow!
I forgot to go to work!
Along with other ones that I know are more tuned to my personal fears, so I am not writing about them here. Aha! And you thought Klingons were personal.
They’re not. I’ve learned that Worf seems actually quite nice, and in fact nobody wants to listen to him.
Isn’t it funny how these fears and worries evolve over time, painted out so well in our dreams?
What was your typical bad dream as a child?