Everyone, with the exception of some college students, sleeps. It is a routine that consumes about a third of our lives, yet everyone’s relationship with sleep is unique. Some are light-sensitive; some get their rest through naps; some depend on pills to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. I often wake up with my feet poking out of my cocoon of blankets, yell in my sleep, and can remember the dialogue of my dreams. I’m sometimes so loud at night, in fact, that in my freshman year, my dorm roommate would hand me a transcript of my sleep-talk every morning.
I must have been going through a very sexually deprived spell last year, because each night for an entire week, I was haunted by an erotic nightmare. This erotic dream sequence happened to me at a time when I was tense from the academic turgor pressure of finals week. Cramming in a semester’s worth of material during the final days of RRR week, my elevated norepinephrine levels mixed with my growing sexual impatience must have manifested into these disturbing wet dreams.
In one night’s dream, Dane, my ex-housemate, approached me with a manly yet uncomfortably sexy gait; my memory of the dreamscape was hazy, but his gaze was still piercing. In real life, I never thought of him as a sexual being, but in this dream, the stiff sway of his developing potbelly stirred my libido from its dormancy with each step he took toward me.
Before I knew it, dream Dane and I were on a couch-bed. The room felt more like a dusty library than a resting place. My mom sat at the opposite end, reading a book, while my ex-housemate and I lay there, making out, completely withdrawn from my mom’s presence. As he lay there on top of me, I remember him tensing up, sweating and then foaming at every pore like a liquidy Chia Pet. His entire body self-lubricated with the frothiness of a well-used sponge. Since this dream encounter, I haven’t been able to watch “SpongeBob” with the jovial childhood innocence that I used to.
When I woke up, finally rescued from this disturbing wet dream, I was still inexplicably a little turned on. When I walked downstairs, my butt muscles clenched furiously upon the sight of none other than the sexual sponge of my dreams, Dane. Not only was he in the living room, but he was the only other person there. It would be impolite not to at least say hi or acknowledge him. My thoughts began roundhouse-kicking each other in the face: What am I going to say when he says hi to me? Should I say hi? Does he always eat breakfast in common space? Why did I come down here? I’m not even hungry. I guess I’ll just make tea to look occupied.
Completely avoiding eye contact and facing the tea cabinet, I yelled, “Guten Morgen!” A pause. God, why did I say that? Peacefully reading David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” he had barely noticed that I walked in. I could have gotten away without saying anything at all.
After a confusing and long-winded explanation of my morning greeting to him, I finally found an opportunity to evade the much-undesired post-dream hookup encounter. I ditched my half-steeped tea bag and fled up the stairs like the neurotic nymphomaniac I had become.
My encounters with Dane after that first morning-after were much more casual. And my subsequent post-wet dream encounters with other people thereafter also became less awkward. Though these erotic nightmares were somewhat repulsive, I had grown accustomed to their arrival each night. At the time, I was more flustered and amazed at the consistent strangeness of these dreams than I was curious about their significance.
Now, reflecting on these dreams, I think I kept revisiting these erotic dreamscapes without resolving them because I was stuck at a sexual roadblock. For me, the only way to see this roadblock was to be visited with the same recurring dream until I could identify a common thread uniting the dream saga. It sometimes takes me several times to learn a lesson from the mistakes, misconceptions or ignorance that I have made routine, whether that be in regard to studying for finals or recurring dreams.
For the past few years, I have been questioning my sexuality, and so with the frenzied heat of finals week, my brain must have bred these two conflicting feelings together with the discongruity and confusion of a Mad Libs game. While also providing comedic relief during the stress of finals, my strange sex dreams revealed to me that heterosexual sex was becoming less of a fantasy of mine. My recurring dreams had become more self-aware than my conscious self, and they still indicate that I have much to learn from them. So bring on the erotic nightmares, you perverted boogeymen!
Layla Chamberlin writes the Friday column on how routines create character and delineate personal politics.