A lot of people claim to have a recurring dream where they find themselves naked in front of a large group of people. I've never had that dream, although I'm sure it must be a very exciting experience. I have had the other classic dream—the one about being unprepared for the big final exam. In my version, though, it's usually the last week of the semester, I haven't yet been to any of my six classes, they're always in impossible subjects (history, for example), and I don't even know how to find the classrooms. I wander around aimlessly, asking other students for help, and wondering how I got myself into such a fix. (Actually, this dream is remarkably like my real-life college experience.)
There's another recurring nightmare that I have, and this one involves vegetarianism. I don't know if other vegetarians share this problem, but I sometimes dream that I'm eating meat. The dream starts out simple enough—the meat is just there in front of me, and for some reason it seems right and appropriate to take a bite. Once I get it into my mouth, though, there's that moment of realization. "Oh my god," I scream, "what am I doing?!" I always wake up in cold sweats after the meat-eating dream, and after I calm down it strikes me as very odd that I could have a horrible nightmare about doing something most people do, with pleasure, several times a day.
I have lots of good dreams about vegetarianism too, but they tend to be of the "daydream" variety. Here are a few I've had lately:
- I'm riding in a plane, and after we get up to altitude the flight attendant comes on the intercom: "Thanks for flying United Airlines ladies and gentlemen. We'll be serving lunch on our flight to New York today. In the main cabin our entrée will be rutabaga stew…" A few minutes later the flight attendants come down the aisle. On top of their cart is a huge pot of stew, and they ladle it out into bowls for the passengers, tearing chunks of brown bread off of big loaves to go with it. Wow, I think, this reminds me of the food service they must have had on trains to Siberia in 1927. It certainly is an improvement over modern airline fare!
- I dream that the world has gone organic—but since we've all become vegetarians too, that means we use compost rather than cows' manure. In my dream I replace all the toilets in my house with DumpMaster 2000® politically-correct composting toilets. According to the advertising, it only takes fifteen minutes for the "special biological enzymes" in the DumpMaster 2000® to turn household sanitary waste into a "rich loam that's perfect for conditioning the soil in your garden, or for adding an earthy flavor to your favorite casserole." I'm so impressed that I become a successful DumpMaster® franchisee and make millions of dollars.
- I dream that I'm on a white-sand beach by a shimmering blue ocean. Suddenly three young ladies appear in bikinis, with perfect tans. Even though they are young enough to be my kid sisters (okay, possibly they are even younger than that), I want to be polite, so I invite them over for tofu at my quaint beach shack. "Goody, goody!" they all coo in unison, following me with pitchers of Mai Tais in their hands. "Muscle-bound lifeguards are okay in their place, but we just love vegans."
- I dream that I'm trying to buy health insurance at the offices of a stuffy insurance company. I'm looking across an intimidating wood desk at a stuffy insurance executive. "Our health policy will cost you a thousand dollars a month," he says sternly. When I ask him what medical costs the policy pays for, he says, "Nothing. But if you have our card in your wallet at least the hospital won't leave you to die in the lobby." I point out that coverage like that doesn't seem like a very good deal—especially for a vegetarian in good health. "Vegetarian!" he says. "Why didn't you say so?! Since you have lower risks, we have a special policy for vegetarians. Your premiums are free!"
- I dream that I'm in a fancy restaurant for lunch, and I don't see anything vegetarian on the menu. "I'm a vegetarian," I say, wincing in anticipation of the reaction I will probably get. "Can I possibly order the salad niçoise without the tuna, anchovies and eggs?" My waiter nods. "We can do that…" he begins. "We'll add Portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and Italian olive salad, and we'll charge you $3 less." At that point I know I'm dreaming. Too bad I have to wake up.