Monday, October 8, 2018

Grown-Up Nightmares!

Way back in the infancy of the Monster Dad blog I wrote about a couple of the recurring nightmares  of my youth (Recurring Nightmares). In fact that post was written exactly EIGHT YEARS AGO on October 8, 2010! It was one of the early posts on the blog, kind of keeping with the "getting to know me" vibe of those early days. Generally when I write about myself here it tends to be things that happened when I was a kid. But I think it's worth mentioning that even grown-ups have dreams--and nightmares for that matter. I'm certainly no exception. While the subject of one of the scariest nightmares I've ever had as an adult is quite different from what scared my unconscious mind when I was a kid, it was still very frightening to me just the same. Before I share that nightmare, let's take a quick recap of the recurring nightmares I had as a kid, just as a frame of reference. And maybe we'll take a quick look at a semi-regular recurring dream/nightmare that I've had as an adult as well.

Recurring Nightmares of Childhood

The two nightmares I shared in 2010 weren't necessarily the scariest dreams I've ever had, but they were the two that I kept having over and over for a period of time in my youth. The first one involved Godzilla. Not a particularly odd or original thing for a kid who grew up watching old monster movies on Creature Double Feature on Boston TV in the 1970s and early 80s to dream about. In this dream I found myself inside my house--in fact I was in the living room where I generally watched Godzilla movies and the like on Saturday afternoons on Creature Double Feature. I was alone in the house and I would hear the unmistakable sound of Godzilla walking (stomping) in my direction. He seemed to be downtown (probably about a quarter of a mile away) and getting closer. For whatever reason (I guess because it was MY dream and all) I knew without a doubt that he was coming straight for our house. I would try to find a place to hide, and every time that place would be a little corner of the living room where there were shelves above my head and clothes hanging (basically a closet without walls). So I was hiding in the corner, but wasn't actually hidden or concealed in any real way. Godzilla kept coming closer and closer until he was nearly at our house. I couldn't move at that point and just hoped for the best. It's worth mentioning here that the room I was hiding in was on the second floor of the house. Godzilla would come right up to the house, bend down to the second floor level and look into the window. Naturally he was looking in RIGHT AT ME, cowering helpless in the corner! I could see that huge monster eye staring in at me! At that point (mercifully) the nightmare would always end and I'd wake up in a panic. Many years later Steven Spielberg channeled my dream when he filmed the scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex looks into the window of the upturned vehicle that had the kids hiding in it.

And a number of years after that the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan took the channeling of my dream even further by building a full-scale Godzilla head into the hotel itself so that some guests were able to get a very similar view from their window that I got in the living room of my own nightmare!

The second most common recurring nightmare I had as a kid also featured a giant monster. In this case it was a dinosaur (kinda-sorta related to Godzilla in some ways I suppose, but also more in line with the stuff found in Jurassic Park--though this dream occurred many years before Jurassic Park). The dinosaur was probably a T-Rex or something similar, but it was the "scientifically-incorrect" version that is familiar to people who grew up in the 1970s and earlier from the movies and TV shows of the time. The Boston Museum of Science had one of these old-school dinosaurs as the centerpiece of it's prehistory exhibit until it was replaced by a more scientifically-correct version in more recent years. The old one was banished to the outside of the building, where it still resides to this day. The Little Monsters and I always take a photo of that lonely relic of the past whenever we visit the museum.

The more modern type of dinosaur seen in the Jurassic Park films 

The old Museum of Science T-Rex in the 1970s

The Little Monsters with the outdated MoS dinosaur

Anyway, in this nightmare I'd be outside of my house. We lived at the end of a dead end street and our house was mostly surrounded by woods. I would be playing in the front yard and would hear the dinosaur in the woods coming for me. As it would approach I would naturally try to run away. But in a cruel twist of nightmare reality...I couldn't run! I would go through the motions (seemingly in slow motion!), but not be able to get any distance between me and the dinosaur as it got closer and closer. The dream always ended with the dinosaur reaching down to grab me. And I'd wake up in a similar panic to what I felt when the Godzilla nightmare ended. But the last time I ever had the dream the creature actually DID grab me, lifted me in the air and brought me closer to its mouth. At that point in my life I had heard the theory that if you were to die in your dream you'd die in real life (where did that idea come from anyway?). I think I realized that fact IN the dream and it caused me to wake up in an even bigger panic than I had ever had before! After that I never had that dream again. Or at least not yet...

A Recurring Nightmare of Adulthoood

I can't say that I've had many recurring dreams as an adult. And the one that I have had (and still do on occasion to this day) is probably a variation on one that I'll bet is pretty common and familiar to many others. It's based in childhood and I probably started having this one late in my childhood (high school?). But instead of featuring monsters and dinosaurs, this one was based in that all too real horror, my school. There were actually a few different versions of this dream/nightmare, but I kind of lump them all together as a single type. In all of these dreams I would find myself back in one of my old schools or one that was pretty similar. In some of the dreams I wouldn't be able to find my locker. In others I'd find my locker, but wouldn't remember my combination! In others I wouldn't be able to find my homeroom in time. In yet others I wouldn't be able to remember my schedule and couldn't figure out where I was supposed to go. And in others I would simply get lost in the hallways. Like I said, I think these types of dreams are probably pretty common. It's kind of funny that no matter how long I've been out of school these dreams still happen, and they still give me that same uneasy feeling that they would give me back in my school days. Well, it's not funny so much as strange and scary.

The Scariest Dream I've Had as an Adult

And now we'll finish up with the scariest dream I've had (so far) as an adult. Other than the forgotten locker combination-type dreams I haven't really had many recurring dreams as a grown-up. But I do still have plenty of dreams and nightmares. This one was one of the few that I can say which has ever caused me to literally wake up in a cold sweat from. And, in this case the dream had a very adult kind of theme. Instead of monsters or dinosaurs or other typically scary things, this one featured something that I don't think would have really frightened me too much as a kid. But by my mid-20s (when I had this one) it was a VERY scary thing to think about.

This dream/nightmare was very short and straight-to-the-point, but still VERY effective. In it I simply woke up from a night of sleep and headed to the bathroom. Nothing too interesting there. But, when I got to the bathroom I turned and looked in the mirror. Looking back at me was my own reflection. Pretty normal, huh? It might have been normal, except for the fact that the reflection had a pretty advanced case of...MALE PATTERN BALDNESS!

Image from

Yup, that was it. I took one look at that version of myself in the mirror and literally woke up in a cold sweat! I can't think of too many times when that actually happened to me, no matter how scary a nightmare might be. I guess reality can be even scarier than fantasy in some cases! I had a full head of hair as a kid and didn't really start noticing my hairline receding until a few years after this dream. But I'm sure that the first signs of thinning were present by then. There must have been some reason for this vision to have such a visceral effect on me. Even now that I'm nearly fifty I still haven't reached that distinctive "horseshoe" look of baldness that is all too common among many men. But I seem to be slowly but surely heading inevitably in that direction. And all through the process the memory of that one-time nightmare has always stuck with me...

Image from
 The Horror, The Horror!

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