Monday, October 4, 2010

Mary, Mayhem, and the Rotten Husband: An Unusual Dream

April 14, 1993

Mary, Mayhem, and the Rotten Husband:
An Unusual Dream
By Nigel A. Renton


I often have amusing dreams, and on several occasions I have awoken from a dream, and later fallen back to sleep, finding myself starting another chapter of the same story. In this dream I played the part of a rotten husband, had my car trashed as a result of chasing after a younger woman, and then – but let’s not spoil the ending.

My dreams remain very vivid in my memory immediately after I awake. Since this is usually in the middle of the night, it is rare for me to relate the dream (which would mean waking my wife) or to go upstairs and dictate the details while they are fresh in my mind. If I don’t do this, it is all too easy to forget the details. On this occasion they remained with me, and I felt impelled to record them. Barbara was out of town.


It is often easy to relate my dreams to events in my waking life. Very often there are a number of different happenings which affect my dreams. It is as if I take a little piece from many different parts of my waking life, including plays, movies, and the TV screen, and put them into a kaleidoscope. Then my brain shakes them all up while I sleep, and turns them out as marvelously complex and fascinating dreams.

There also seems to be some correlation between my having eaten cheese and having vivid dreams. I was told about this as a child, but this “old wives’ tale” may have some basis in fact. On the evening of April 13/14, 1993, I had liberally sprinkled a large salad with parmesan, before realizing that a similar amount would improve the flavor of the left-over spaghetti, which was the main course of my supper.

I had been talking to or thinking of women all day, but not with “evil thoughts”. That morning, I had had an intense conversation with AL. I had then arranged with my young friend from church, MB, to be my guest at the forthcoming DRA theater evening. I had also had good reasons to think about JK and MS, young women friends, and of RC and KL, women priests.

I had later been to the doctor, (the only man in this account), where there had been talk about a relatively minor operation for the removal of toenails, deferred until a possible future date: and of possible future urethral or prostate surgery. I had then gone up to a blood-drawing station, only to find that it was closed for the afternoon, and I would need to return the following morning.
During the evening, I had a phone conversation with Barbara in Colorado, where I plan to join her for the coming weekend. The call was more in the nature of passing on messages than a lovers’ chat. I should add that Barbara had worn a white blouse and black pants when I last saw her.

We also discussed whether Barbara would take Kate Learson to Rocky Mountain National Park on the day of my arrival, or whether we should spend part of my precious few hours in Colorado amid those glorious snow-capped peaks. (Kate is the daughter of the former chairman of IBM, and I vividly remembered how we had been drawn to each other’s company at the outset of the trip Barbara and I made to the Antarctic. Kate was unaccompanied: I remembered how I had come to terms with the realization that to maintain this friendship it was important that she and Barbara becomes friends, which they did very easily, while I worked through my feelings about this glamorous and intelligent younger woman who had found me a good companion. At the time, Kate had confided in me, and later to us both, her complex feelings about her lover, who subsequently became her husband. John won’t be with Kate in Colorado, so the three of us will be reunited, as we were for a couple of delightful days in New England last fall.)

On my rides to and from the office and for part of the evening, I had been listening to a wonderful recorded book about the Borgias, and the passionate involvement of male clergy, of all ranks and including the Pope, in licentious affairs, sometimes involving incest. A few days before, I had re-viewed the scene where Orson Welles as Citizen Kane trashes his mistress’s room in a violent rage.l

Then, after supper, I had watched Steel Magnolias, a movie I had recorded earlier. The main theme concerns a young woman (Julia Roberts), as a severe diabetic who rejects the advice of doctors and her own mother to avoid becoming pregnant. She wants to have her own child, and gives birth to the son and heir ardently sought by her husband. As a result of this, she had kidney failure and in due course, the kidney transplant from her own mother is rejected, and she dies. The movie is much more about middle-class white society in a small town in Louisiana, not too far from Shreveport, than it is about death, which comes at the end of the movie. It is generally upbeat and funny, and also stars Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, and Darryl Hannah. These are the strong Southern women of the title, each very different, involved to some extent with men who are felonious, foolish, out of work, or pathetic. This affected me, because the mother of my own sons had also been a severe diabetic. We were not warned to avoid having children because of potential danger to a diabetic mother. Had I unwittingly put Lola into a life-threatening situation – twice? Had she deliberately – or unwittingly – downplayed the dangers to her own health?

Then, somewhere on the news, I saw a picture of a car that had been broken into, with bits of window glass on the floor. And so, to my dream …

to be continued in next week's post ...

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