Dr. Dream by Lou Gaglia

Dr. Dream

Lou Gaglia

In case you’ve never heard of me, I am Dr. Dream, and I appear every week (though not necessarily in print) in order to solve just a few of the many problems young people write to me about. This is a column that is slanted in favor of young people, because frankly I really don’t care about old people’s problems—especially if they involve bridge work or bad feet or bum knees—so if anyone out there over twenty-five sends me a dream, into the wastebasket it goes!

I prefer to help people out through analyzing their dreams (hence my name1) because dreams tell me more about a person’s feelings than his lying mouth does. It’s really funny to read people’s dreams, actually, because they reveal some pretty heavy emotions, and meanwhile the dummies have no idea what they’re telling me. If they only knew! Oh…maybe I shouldn’t have just written that.

Well, so what if I did, anyway? If I stop getting letters, I can do just as well as a florist or a stunt man. I can analyze dreams on the side. But I know I won’t lose my job because I’m so good at what I do. If these troubled kids came to me in person, they’d be crawling on their knees. As it is, I get letters with triple postage. Triple. I’ll bet none of you out there get triple postage. Oh, what’s the use. You gotta be a columnist to understand.

Anyway, enough of the small talk. Now you’ll see me in action. I have three very typical letters here with me this week. Remember: one of these problems may be yours—but, for your sake, I hope not.

Dear Dr. Dream,
I’m a guy, twenty-five years old, and I am glad I made your age cut-off because I don’t understand why I can’t have any peaceful dreams. I wonder at it and can’t come up with an answer. I keep knocking my head against different walls, but it never does any good.

Last night, I dreamed I was being chased by two ostriches. I was in my basement and the ostriches chased me around my pool table, around and around. One of them was very clever, turning around and running the opposite way to head me off. I had to keep going under the table, but when I exited on the other side, there it would be again, running from each end. Boy, were they clever! They cornered me at last and, in desperation, I hit one of them on the beak. He asked me why I did that because now he needed a nose job. Then he challenged me to a game of pool. We found out there was no eight ball, and the ostrich2said to the other ostrich, “Then forget it. I’ll just get a face lift instead.” He stuck his head in a corner pocket and I woke up trembling.
—What the heck was that?

Dear Heck Was That,
Being outsmarted by ostriches indicates a severe inferiority complex. You want to control everyone and make others change (nose job), and you find out you can’t (“I’ll get a face lift instead.”) The missing eight ball means that you—
—Are One3

Dear Dr. Dream,
I am a waitress, twenty-one, and well within your age cutoff. I have a recurring dream that Luciano Pavarotti4 is trying to break into my house. He says that he wants to sing “Return to Sorrento,” and then have a meal. I keep telling him I have no pasta for him, but he insists, telling me he will settle for some pignoli and coffee. I still refuse, but my mother screams at me, “Will you let the poor man sing!” In her hysteria, she falls down on some bread and breaks her ribs. Then Luciano is suddenly in the house. He stands with one foot on my mother, singing, “Das Wandern.5” I scream and wake up.
—Not Even Italian

Dear Not Even Italian,
Since you are a waitress, the fact that you refuse to let Mr. Pavarotti in is significant and probably indicates that you have a fear of giving to a man (the pasta) or letting one into your life (Luciano trying to break in); or it means that a bearded man in your restaurant (maybe Luciano himself or one of his relatives6) is trying to win your heart and you’ve been holding out. Your mother breaking her ribs on the bread signifies your fear of what would happen if you let a man into your life.7

Anyway, the fact that Luciano was singing “Das Wandern” means that you are confused and horrified (especially if you don’t like Shubert). It’s what I call “Nocturnal Terror.8” As to your overall problem: this love stuff is scary and risky business, but try to relax. Avoid dating heavily built deceased Italian opera singers for a while, and if whomever you are dating starts singing “Sorrento” or “Das Wandern,” take the cue and—
—Exit Stage Left.9

Dear Dr. Dream,
Recently, I went back with my boyfriend after breaking up with him nine times. I don’t want to hurt him, and I’m also afraid I’ll be making a big mistake, but I’m twenty-four and, though I love him, I can’t see myself marrying him. He’s kind of mean. That isn’t my problem, though.

My problem is this strange dream I had that I can’t figure out. In it I was kidnapped by Kamikaze priests. They held me in a basement and refused to let me go. One of them thought he was funny. He pressed a bucket of lard down onto his head and giggled, “I like lard on my head.10” The others sat down to eat dinner. I asked why they were having steak and they rolled their eyes. “Kidnapped people ask such stupid questions,” one said with his mouth full. I asked if I could go home. “No,” they all said in unison. I begged them and they said, “Oh, all right, but come back tomorrow.” As I left, one of them called me “Nameless.”

There’s a lot of symbolism there, don’t you think? I’ve never been to church, so I can’t feel imprisoned by religion or anything. I don’t know what the lard could stand for. I can’t find it in any of the dream books I’ve read, but maybe it’s significant that I don’t think lard is particularly funny.11 What do you think “Nameless” means? The reason I’m writing to you is that this is the one dream I can’t seem to analyze. It has nothing to do with the first part of my letter about my creep boyfriend.
—Curious Disciple

Dear Curious,
The reason I am Dr. Dream and you are a person writing to Dr. Dream is that you have no idea what’s going on, so don’t try to do my job, Sis.

Lard hasn’t been funny since the 1930s (at least), so it means that your relationship is getting as old as jokes about it. You also don’t know what your feelings are (Nameless) or you feel like a nobody. My guess is, if the dream goes on, you come back (probably another nine times12) and as long as you stay “kidnapped,” you’re going to be stuck with your stupid boyfriend.13As far as the meaning of Kamikaze priests…well, you are pretty much sacrificing yourself, aren’t you, kiddo? The truth hurts—
—Doesn’t It?

Well, that’s all for this week’s column, dreamers. That Kamikaze priest dream was really wild, wasn’t it? What an idiot she was. I really showed her. She thought she could out-analyze me. I buried her with my analysis.14 That is why our jealous editor below pays me the big bucks.15 He is an awfully nice fellow, though.
1 editor’s note: Dr. Dream
2 editor’s note: presumably the one needing the nose job
3 editor’s note: this makes no sense, unless the doctor mistakes “eight ball” for “oddball”
4 editor’s note: famous opera singer, now deceased, but still very good
5 editor’s note: some song about a guy wandering around doing nothing
6 editor’s note: can’t be Luciano—he’s dead / author’s note: all right, a relative, then
7 editor’s note: OR it means she likes a man who “cracks her up” / author’s note: Let me handle this
8 editor’s note: a bad dream
9 editor’s note: groan
10 editor’s note: I’ve never found lard amusing
11 editor’s note: see?
12 editor’s note: that was uncalled for
13 editor’s note: he might be a nice guy underneath it all
14 editor’s note: you might be worse than her boyfriend
15 paid you the big bucks

About the Author

Lou Gaglia’s stories have been published in a variety of publications, including JMWW, Rose & Thorn Journal, Bartleby Snopes, FRiGG, Rougarou, The Ear Hustler, Loch Raven Review, and Lowestoft Chronicle. He teaches in upstate New York.