Some kids swear they never dream. Maybe they’re liars, I don’t know. Maybe they dream only things they don’t want anyone else to know about, and so they just swear they never dream. Sort of like self-defense.
Or maybe their dreams are just boring. That could explain it, too. I’ve found that boring kids have boring dreams. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? If you’re boring when you’re awake, you at least ought to be exciting when you’re asleep.
We learned in science one year that everyone dreams. When you’re sleeping, your eyes start fluttering, and that’s when you’re dreaming—like your eyeballs are going crazy trying to see what really isn’t there . . . well, it’s there, it’s just not there, you know? Sleep-scientists have experimented on people who swore they never had a dream. The scientists wake these people up when their eyeballs start dancing, and you know what? Those people, those ones who swore they never dreamed? They report that they were just having the greatest dream ever …
I bet you’ve heard the one about how if you dream you’re falling (which everyone does) and you hit the ground in your dream, then you die. Haven’t you heard that one before? But think about it. It’s stupid, really. If you died in your sleep, how would anyone know what you were dreaming about? I mean, just before you die, do you yell out, “I landed! I landed! So now I’m gonna die!” Sometimes people just don’t think too much. They just keep passing stories along, like counterfeit money or something. Never recognizing how fake it is.
Here’s another example of how people don’t think. Have you ever heard this one? “If you eat a lot of food just before you go to bed, you’ll have sick dreams.” That’s not true. Your food dreams are no more sick than any other dreams. What happens, see, is that all that food makes you sleep more lightly, you wake up more often, you remember your dreams. That’s all. Just think about it.
Sometimes people remember only parts of dreams—or parts of several dreams. Because, you see, you usually dream more than once. And they say that if you don’t write down your dream, or tell someone about it, it will go away and you won’t remember it any more. They’ll fade away, like something you left in the sun too long. This is pretty true, I guess—at least for most dreams.
But there are some you never forget, not even when you try. I have that kind all the time. I’m full of dream stories, as you’ll find out.
Here’s something else you might not know: Other kids come and tell me their dreams. All the time. I’ve gotten pretty good at telling what they mean. But here’s a secret. I don’t really know what dreams mean. And I don’t think anyone else does either.
Like an example. Lots of kids tell me about a dream where they’re naked somewhere, somewhere in public, usually—like in school, or at the mall. Sometimes they’re really embarrassed, and they run around trying to find clothes to put on, and other people are staring at them like they’re sick or something. Or they yell stuff at the naked kid. And start chasing them, even. But sometimes people don’t even notice the kid is naked. And the naked kid sits right there in class doing whatever it is they usually do. Or shopping, or playing baseball, or dancing in the gym. No big deal.
Now, what are you supposed to think about that? Here’s there kind of thing I tell kids who tell me their dreams of being naked. You’re afraid of being naked because you’re afraid of people finding out what you’re really like. Who you really are.
One time, in the library, when we were supposed to be working on social studies reports, I looked up and saw Jennifer Queen standing beside me. This has never happened before, except by accident, like in the lunch line or something.
“Can I sit down a minute?” she whispered. The air around my table completely changed. Even her breath smelled like perfume.
Maybe I answered her, maybe not. I was so shook up that it seemed that a guard dog in my throat was not allowing any words to get out. I made some kind of noise that sounded like both a growl and a bark. But she sat down anyway. And I just sort of breathed her in for a while. And hoped I wasn’t dreaming.
And then she told me about one of her dreams. She was naked while acting in a school play in front of a big, huge audience. (I tried like crazy not to imagine that, not right then. I didn’t want to pass out.) And everyone in that audience was somebody at school who didn’t like her. (She didn’t give any names, and I didn’t ask—but I didn’t realize there was anyone who didn’t like Jennifer Queen. She’s so gorgeous. Man, who wouldn’t like her?)
Anyway, after she told me her dream, she said, “What does it mean, Joe? I hear you’re good at knowing what dreams mean.”
I tried to clear my throat. Did you ever drag a heavy trashcan down the driveway? Well, that’s what it sounded like. But I told her what I already said about naked dreams.
And when I did, she got this goofy look on her face, like I’d just told her the meaning of life or something. She got all red, and then she did something that surprised me so much I nearly fell out of my chair. She leaned over and kissed me—not on the mouth. (Too bad for me.) No, but a kiss, right on the cheek, right in the library, right where some other kids saw it, like Carny Voar, who nearly choked on the cupcake he was eating behind the notebook he propped up so the teacher wouldn’t see him pigging out in class.
And then Jennifer Queen said something that shocked me even more. She said, “Joe, from now on, you’re my dream boy.”
I sat there in a goofy daze the rest of the period and didn’t bother writing down anything else about the House of Burgesses, which is what I was supposed to be doing.
Later, of course, I realized what she meant by “dream boy,” and I was kind of disappointed. But I was hoping Jennifer Queen would start having weird dreams every night. Every single blessed night.