Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Duke Sex Dream

(Don't worry, the sex does not involve me, and it is only implied anyway).

I had a dream a few days ago where I was visiting the famous and in some ways infamous Duke University in North Carolina, a place to which I have never been. No reason of course for my presence there was given, nor can I think of anything that had particularly happened the previous day that would have called this institution to the attention of my subconscious. I was exactly the person, the same age, same personality, same station, as I am in life, so I had no professional or social excuse to be there, and if a rich and good-looking student of a harsh temperament had desired to question and insult my being there I would have been hard put to defend myself. However at the beginning I was all alone with a couple of Gothic buildings, a lawn that looked like a golf course that was being watered by sprinklers, and a wooden groundskeeper's lodge set at the edge of a small group of trees, in the shade of which I was standing, somewhat nervously hoping to avoid getting challenged and ridiculed by sexy rich people, of whom I am obviously completely terrified, though I try to keep a lid on this fear in my ordinary life. At length a rather gruff old-timer--mid to late 60s, completely bald, much-wrinkled head, neither muscular nor obese, wearing a polo shirt the color of broccoli--came out of the groundskeeper's chalet and motioned that I was to come with him to be shown around. We went into the lodge and I saw a couple of richly furnished and decorated rooms, one a library, the other more of a lounge or ballroom--it had expensive chairs and carpeting and chandeliers and wallpaper, but no books--such as someone like me at least would expect to find at any old college that thought highly of itself. After this we went upstairs to tour some more rooms, windowless rooms that were dimly lit only by large flat screen televisions, beer signs and lava lamps. We had entered upon the living quarters of various athletes; these athletes were at home; they had company; and my guide was leading me right through them, apparently oblivious to the presence of their inhabitants and the private nature of the activities they were engaged in. I was naturally too abashed to look back at the people we had intruded upon after an initial glimpse, so I did not see much. There was a form like a contented man, but one who exuded latent physical energy lying prone on a sofa, probably reveling in the contemplation of his personal awesomeness--that's what I would be doing if I were such a person--fortunately not facing me, and either beside or above him a thin female, visible from the waist up from the back only, with perfectly groomed hair, was frantically covering her naked breasts, which I could not see anyway, with a blanket. Upon going into a second room I encountered an essentially identical scene--the hair coloring of the frantic and bare-backed thin young woman may have been slightly different, but its grooming was equally impeccable--at which point the strain on my nerves must have become too great, for I had to rouse myself out of the dream.

While this dream doubtless reveals a number of unhealthy trends at work in my current state of mind, I thought that a number of things about it were curious:

The first is the alignment of my actual age and station with that of my dream self. For many years in my 20s and 30s this was not the case--I was always five to ten years younger, or at least doing things I had done when I was five to ten years younger, in dreams. I continued to have dreams that I was playing on the high school basketball team, and contributing much more than I had done when I had actually been in school,   until I was around 28. Usually in the middle of these dreams I would be overtaken by some sense that it was not legal for me to be playing, that something was wrong, though I could never quite express what it was and it also seemed that nobody else was aware of my secret except me. For about about ten years after I finished college I would dream that I had started over as a freshman and was going through all the coursework again, even though in this instance I knew I had done the whole thing before and was certain that someone in the faculty or administration had to know this too. In this I was also doing much better work the second time through. My dreams often found me reading War and Peace, which for me at least was one of the emotional high points and transitional guideposts of those years. I often seemed in the course of one of these dreams to race through a year or two's worth of readings and other activities--I also checked my mailbox and went to the library to read the newspaper frequently, as I had done in real life, during which intervals often an entire semester would pass--but I never made it all the way to a second graduation. War and Peace, which was the book you read over the summer before your senior year, was the farthest I would get.

I also used to have Prague dreams a lot for 6 or 7 years after I left there. All of these stopped around the time I was 33 or 34, which coincides with my children being born and a sharp reduction in my hours of sleep. I rarely have any dreams that I remember anymore.

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