Me and my brother and sister have a game. It’s called “In… what… waaaay” in honour of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, although it doesn’t really deserve a name of its own, because it’s just “guess the movie I’m quoting”. But we’ve seen all of the same movies, so it’s more fun to play than it would be with random strangers.
Anyway, there are some films, Ferris among them, which almost aren’t worth using any more because we all know them so well, which means that if you can come up with a line from one of those films which the other two don’t immediately recognise, you are definitely the winner of that round.
In a separate development, I am really enjoying my new job. Really enjoying it. Put those two facts together and maybe it’s not that strange that last night I dreamed that my actual job was coming up with movie quotes for people to guess. As the alarm went off at seven o’clock this morning, I was gleefully reciting the line “that’s the bedroom…but nothing ever happened in there”* and waiting to see who’d guess it first. I can’t remember who was doing the guessing, but – as when we play it for real – it was all very jolly and uncompetitive.
I’m pleased that my brain chose to associate my new job with playing “In… what… waaaay”. I think it bodes well.
Some of my dreams are interesting and many are definitively not. The most interesting dream I’ve ever had, which I can still conjure up perfectly vividly even though I dreamed it in 1992, is a story for another day. The second-most interesting dream was a nightmare which still sends shivers down my spine, although it’s one of those nightmares which don’t sound scary at all when you describe them. I’ve never been able to interpret either of them in a way that made sense, so perhaps I will write about them here one day and see if someone else can do better.
In general, though, I’m not a very cryptic dreamer: most of what I dream about is a perfectly transparent reference to whatever I’ve mostly been thinking about that day. Here are three examples:
1. When I’d been at the Guardian about eighteen months, I was asked to take on a much more technical job than I’d ever done before. It was still project management, but it involved knowing about servers and back-end systems and other things I didn’t really understand. These were projects on which the website would literally stand or fall. In the days before I started, I dreamed that we were all riding in a giant bus, which was being driven jointly by our Chief Technical Officer and our Systems Administrator. At a crucial moment, they asked me to come forward and drive the bus. As I took over the steering wheel, I swerved it violently to one side and crashed the bus into the verge.
2. A couple of years later, I was helping to run a survey of people’s favourite films by collecting lots of data and sending it to a friend, who was mashing it up and turning it into something interesting. Midway through, I dreamed that the friend in question was a private detective (in the dream he was also Sherlock Holmes, and I was Watson) and he’d called me into his office to help with an assignment. “I need you to gather some information”, he said. “I need you to go out and find every example you can of the anthromorphisation of letterboxes in nineteenth-century English literature.”
(I guess my subconscious added a flourish of its own there.)
3. Shortly after the beloved and I became engaged, I dreamed that we were in a large room full of people we knew, eating a meal. Our table was at one end of the room and we were facing out towards everybody else. Our chairs were eight or nine feet tall, and we’d had to climb ladders to reach them. As the meal ended I looked down and realised that the ladders had been removed, and we had to stay in the chairs, with everybody looking at us.
No need for Freud’s help in interpreting any of those, I don’t think.
(On the other hand, the period in my life when I had the liveliest and most colourful dreams was while I was reading On The Interpretation Of Dreams before I went to sleep every night, which is an activity I strongly recommend if you can’t afford hallucinogens.)
*They’re both easy, but please go ahead and guess the source of each quote in the comments. It will make me very happy.