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THE MAD DATER

Dreamed 10/29/1996 by Chris Wayan


I'm standing in front of my parents' house, talking with my friend Mark, a fellow shaman, about his recent dream-breakthroughs. A mutual friend is listening.

A woman walks by in a sixties minidress with a wide magenta plastic belt. She looks hurried, worried--keeps glancing back at a man down the street. A car parked in the next driveway sticks out so far it blocks the sidewalk. She puts a hand on the hood and hops around it, half over the hood. I see a flash of white. Her skirt's so short her big baggy boxer shorts are showing. I feel embarrassed, like it's my fault.

I mean, my mom taught me "Don't look up the miniskirt of a lady vaulter in distress."

Now the man she's avoiding walks up, a skinny Asian guy in his late twenties. Scowling, he asks us "When your date did something really infuriating, is it okay to throw rocks at her?" Mark and I gape--that sounds crazy even to nerds like us. Yet our friend tells the angry man firmly "Well, yes, you can, but nothing worse--that's the limit." He looks relieved and accepts this without question. I can't believe what I'm hearing, but I'm silent, not quite ready to contradict my friend--because here boxer-short-mini-skirt land, maybe the customs ARE that weird. Maybe the average guy does throw rocks. I'm a nerd, what do I know about modern love?

But I was picturing the inch-wide rocks you see in gardens around here, not the fist-sized skullcracker the angry man picks up. He chases her down the block, tosses it, misses... so he scoops a glass bottle from the gutter and flings THAT. And misses. Well, not a total miss--he shatters someone's window, and the jagged broken bottle goes rolling down the steep hill to the bottom, stops near the corner, where any car or biker turning will go right over it. Mark jogs down the hill and yells at him: "That's ENOUGH!" His scared date rounds the corner and disappears.

Mark confers with the angry man, who suddenly starts shouting "Oh my God!" with real fear in his voice. Yells up to me "We have to get him to a hospital, RIGHT NOW!" Mark's lying in the middle of the street, that's all I can see. No car. The guy could have hit him, but what instantly comes to mind is the jagged broken bottle--if he cut himself badly, he could bleed to death. I have my car keys in my pocket, and my old VW bus right here. Fumble with the car keys, while I try to remember where the nearest emergency room is. Redwood City?

Suddenly I wake, in panic. It's around 4:45 AM. I feel terribly guilty. I've felt rather jealous of Mark lately, as he's been dating a lot and I haven't. Feel, irrationally, as if my envy cursed him, led to his injury--whatever it is.

NEXT MORNING

So for the next three days I call Mark. Silence. Silence. Silence. I start to get very worried!

THREE DAYS LATER

Mark calls at last--and he WAS in danger. His house burned down Sunday night! Officially no cause, but it was probably arson--he heard his landlady's gangstery son yelling "they got my car"--his precious antique, lovingly restored. He makes enemies. The panicky guy in my dream was probably him--he kept trying to "save" Mark as he dragged his stuff out of the burning place. Mark didn't need saving...

Mark's okay and he did save his things, though his bed's smoke-damaged and his room's uninhabitable. The roof burnt off! All Monday was spent numbly packing; the shock really hit Tuesday morning, around the time I had my dream.

MARK'S DREAM: NAILING HIS DATE

Mark tells me he dreamed he was on a date. They go horse-riding. She's new to horses, and he worries she'll drop the reins. So naturally he nails the reins to her fingers! Hammers holes in her fingers first, off the horse (sound carpentry planning, yes?) then nails the reins on. It never occurs to him that HE didn't need to nail HIS reins on, even when he was a novice.

Blood drips and her eyes pool with tears, but she doesn't complain. She wants to be a good date.

My friend Mark's insane dream: he nailed his date's hands to her horse.
So they start riding along, but she falls off, despite the nails. He goes over and YELLS at her. "It's your fault! You let the horse go beyond what you could control!" Mark knows he must punish her now.

She won't take the blame, and yells back. To prove she CAN control large animals, she summons a monstrous white dog, and orders him "Sit!" The dog starts to, but Mark, furious at losing the argument, tells the dog "NO!" and shoves him to stop him sitting. He growls and bares his teeth, angry and confused.

Mark feels a flood of outrage and yells at the bleeding girl "How can you be so cruel? Look how you're making this poor dog confused!"

And wakes up absolutely bewildered.

I laugh and laugh. Mark grew up in Kentucky, and it's such a southern dream somehow, all that "look what you made me do!" The poor old dog is Mark himself--easygoing, just likes petting and approval and good times. But his brain's read too many self-help books, and has this crazy program of How To Nail This Date. It conflicts with his childhood training, and the women themselves, and his own heart: the horse who doesn't want to be 'saddled' with the wrong woman. And his date... haven't you been there? Talked yourself into torture, in the name of dating, told yourself "C'mon, s/he's not so bad, give it a chance..." as the date got worse, and worse, and worse.

Well, now my nightmare makes more sense. The man mad at his date, who asks us the rules for fighting, Mark going along with "throw stones," Mark getting hurt (I guessed he cut his hands on broken glass... his dream date's bleeding hands?). The image of the nails, though... Christ!

Then Mark, on the phone, adds "I called another woman tonight, and asked her out. She said no. Oh well, I'll just keep pounding the nail in with my forehead."

Astral emergency room, here we come.



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