Michael Campbell

Story Time.

In Your Dreams

by | May 5, 2009 | Uncategorized

I awoke to what sounded like a nice dinner party: happy laughter, flirty conversation. My girlfriend has the most engaging, infectious laugh, and I wondered uncomfortably who she was laughing with.

I felt like I was eavesdropping, the way you feel when someone is talking baldly into their cell phone right next to your head. You’d like to give them some privacy if only you could figure out how. You can’t very well dig a hole in the sidewalk and put your head in it. This psychological discordance is the basis for why we want to snatch the phone out of their hands and stomp it.
Her laugh came easily, her hands were animated. Clearly, she was having a lovely time, and clearly, she was dreaming. I dearly wanted to hear he chuckle, “Oh, Michael, you’re so clever,” and was sure at any moment I would hear her say, “Ha-ha-ha—oh, Bob…”
Like looking into a Kleenex, where you know there’s nothing good to see but you peek anyway, I listened. I did not hear my name or anyone else’s. Indeed, although her words were quite clear, I strained to recognize a single one of them. Perhaps she was enjoying a bistro lunch with Pierre. Or maybe dreams are coded to protect the dreamer.
Mercifully, it was over quickly. Check, please!
Why should I care? It’s her dream, after all, and she’s entitled to wander to all kinds of experiences, as long as she boils herself afterwards. Thankfully, God alone is witness to the weird stuff that goes on in my head at night, and I don’t choose any of it. I definitely don’t choose the terror of being locked deep in an Italian church basement, surrounded by gargoyles night after night. Maybe it’s a nightmare for my girlfriend to have wine at a sidewalk cafe with Pierre in Paris.
It’s just as well I can’t choose my dreams, because I’d stick to the same five or so, and enjoy them over and over, much like Omaha radio. At least now I have to get up and run occasionally.
Feeling bad about how I answered the following question, I posed it to my friends: Who would you rather be: The good boyfriend a woman chooses to keep and trust and love? Or the bad boy she dumped as unworthy, but whom she secretly has dreams about? All hands shot up unanimously before I even finished the question: “Bad!” Male or female, every person but one answered the same way, and the one holdout was lying. We’d rather be the name in the dream than the guy in the bed.
A friend of mine was watching a romantic movie with her husband, and they watched the woman writhe in ecstasy as a love scene played out on the screen in front of them. “I look like that to you,” he asked tentatively, “don’t I?”
“Yeah you do,” she replied. “When I close my eyes.”


  1. Leslie

    I would have chosen the good, trusting loving one.

  2. Becky

    Even if we all say that we want to be the “bad” one..the one they dream about…most of us just want the fairytale..whether its realistic or not.

  3. Dawn

    I read the question to Doug. He answered, “Probably the first one.”

    Good thing I don’t have an ex-lover that was a bad boy!!!

  4. Mooph

    Being the name in a dream is romantic in concept and for those of us who have built our lives around images, it can even lend a bit fulfilling in it allows us to see a small portion of ourselves actualized, if only for a fleeting moment, in the light of our inflated ideals. That being said, it really is quite a pyrrhic victory. Sure the mystery may leave you idealized forever in the other’s mind, but never allowed the chance to sully that image means never really getting to call them yours. And that’s a sustenance that nourishes far greater than the distant bitter-sweetness of the former.

  5. jo(e)

    I laughed aloud at the ending line of this ….


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