Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Really? A Nightmare?

I had a nightmare last night. A real, old-fashioned nightmare that bolted me awake at 5:11 AM.

I was so shaken I actually wanted to wake up Sruli who was blissfully sleeping through a very real threat to his ever-lovin’ wife.

I lay, bug-eyed, for a few minutes in shock—until my ever-lovin’ bladder made a very real threat of its own.

Back in bed (after a freaky check on the babes) I remembered some long-ago psychologist-type who said that scary dreams are manifestations of unfinished business.

So the cause of nightmares is—unresolution.

I will add to that. I have day-mares every time Zachary borrows the car. Every time the twins aren’t right next to me in the mall, or Ilana tells me she is walking home, alone, through Washington Square Park. And now that Aaron is traveling all year—all those plane rides…oy vey.

So I know that the real cause of nightmares is fear.

Then, weirdly, I started to feel real anger—at Stephen King (! ) How could he contribute to the horror in this world, by writing it all down, making it into movies and thereby making the horror a real experience for millions of people who obviously don’t get off enough on their own nightmares?

Then, of course, I realized it was total jealousy because what I wouldn’t give to have written only three of his stories. (The Body—which became the movie “Stand by Me,” Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile.)

So the real cause of nightmares is—envy?

I did get back to sleep eventually.

In the morning, I called my Dad to check how his cataract operation went.

It’s been very hard to see my father slowing down and casting off his interests.

He was a very formidable man—I was scared plenty of him sometimes when I was little—he held my sisters and me to very high standards and ruled with an old-fashioned European potch.

But we were very close, too, still are, and I spent endless hours in his study just talking about life and feeling the pride and love that he had for me.

He shlepped me to orchestra every week and we performed together at nursing homes on Chanukah. Now he and Mom come to Zachary’s and my concerts.

He is a violinist, cellist, pianist, clarinetist, sax player and composer and has the sweetest tenor. He was a High Holiday Cantor every year at a shul in Pennsylvania. He still hosts a high level Gemorah shiur every Shabbos.  He is an amateur but ardent astronomer.

He was a Full Professor of Mathematics at Queens College—recently retired. He has published many books on prime number theory and statistics.

A Renaissance Man.

And then it hit me.

My nightmare. There was a long, dark hallway and the walls were hung with meters—meters that measured pain.

The red lights on the meters went up and down and I could hear muffled cries behind the walls.

I somehow knew I was representing my family. And then my turn came.

A large man filled the hallway, coming suddenly at me, sweeping me up into a dance macabre.

He released me and I followed him to a room where he held up two contact lenses.

He dropped one and I instinctively bent to help him pick it up but he warned me away with a look.

I then had to wait in that dark hall with the red lights.

I was frantic and filled with dread because I knew he was preparing something for me with those lenses.

I opened the door to the room again, and there he was, sitting and waiting for me with a pink and blue haze of light surrounding him, a meaningful look in his staring eyes and a slight smile.

I realized I was going to be in for pain like I never experienced.

He started to rise from behind this desk, still staring at me with that crazed half-smile and I turned and fled down that hall—and that’s when I woke up.

My heart was really pounding. Now, as I write this and try to recall crazy-contact-lens-man’s face I see only Dwight Schrute from The Office. But it wasn’t him.

I think it was Death.

And I wasn’t protecting my kids, or Sruli, or even myself. I was protecting my Dad.

What a turnabout.

But Daddy, biz 120 poopoopoo, is still someone I talk to every day and my sisters and I try to get him to exercise more (we got him to quit smoking 30 years ago) and I try to keep Johnny and Charlie less wild when we visit and I still try to amuse him and make him proud with the mishigena  stories that make up my life.

And at least I figured out what the real cause of nightmares is.
And I betcha Stephen King knows it, too.

The real cause of nightmares, is love.

Open that Door

A few days ago I ran into a friend.  She is around my age, very attractive and full of energy. Her husband is a tall, handsome intellectual.  Within ten minutes of our conversation she told me she would rather have an open marriage. 

“I’ve been trying to talk him into it for years, “ she said.

I am not usually at a loss for words, but—I was.

We didn’t talk much more about it.  At this point in our busy lives we “talk” more on Facebook.

But I got to thinking: First, isn’t it, albeit stereotypically, the man who would prefer an open arrangement? Second—how cool is it that she’s the one pushing for it?

Third, isn’t she telling me that her guy isn’t doing it for her in bed?

Fourth, shouldn’t that be private?

Fifth—ok, assuming that nothing is private anymore, wouldn’t the husband prefer it to be private?

Sixth—should I find her someone?

I personally would die a thousand miserable deaths of sexual jealousy if Sruli even hinted that he wanted an open situation.  I secretly don’t even like when he talks to other women in our congregation.

Then I got to thinking practically.

Ok. Who gets the night off? And who gets to watch the kids?
Do I get to ask details?
Do we have to be back by a certain time the next morning—like to get the kids to school?
Are certain phone calls taken in private?
Is it limited to one other lover, or is that private, too?
Say we limit it to one night a week (that comes around pretty often…) but is there a financial limit? Expensive dinner? Courting presents? Hotel rooms?

And what if he (I am already sweating and miserable) falls a bit in love, the way (swine!) men do?

What if she is better than I am? (Ha! No way, but she can definitely be thinner…)

Now ours is a second marriage, so you could say that we are kind of lovers already. But my friend also had a long-term relationship before. What exactly is she looking for?

I understand the urge for sexual experimentation (love Babeland!) and I really understand how experimentation changes when you also have to face each other across the pile of dirty laundry. I understand the need for a thrill.

Or maybe I really don’t, anymore. And maybe I’m just surprised that at our age (at our age, oy!) she doesn’t want to settle in and trade out that part of life.

Maybe it keeps her young.  Maybe, because I truly don’t want or need anything more, I’m not really lucky, I am just old?

The other night I wacked my head on the car door (my temple—the part with the throbbing vein?) and almost blacked out from the pain.

After observing my stunned position for a moment, Sruli said, “You know, that kind of thing is going to happen more and more as we get older.”

How sweet is that? Would a just sometime-lover ever make such an observation?

So in a fit of closeness, I asked him. Just, you know, totally hypothetically. If.

And he said, “Well, if you finished all the contracts we have to send out for our music biz, made all the calls for our camp biz, sent out all the emails for our shul biz, and the twins are totally fed, washed and happy and the dogs are walked—sure—go ahead.”

And I said—“WHAT?”

He smiled and crinkled up his green grey eyes.

“Just kidding.”