Dear Dream Person,I’m driving my blue Buick in my hometown, to a new job which happens to be somewhere amongst the abandoned railroad buildings. As I progress, the road becomes more primitive, and the buildings more worn down. While I’m driving by, I notice that many of the buildings are venting a bright yellow smoke, and through a hole in the wall, I see that another building’s floor is covered with pulsating yellow liquid. I continue to drive until I realize I can drive no further because of a pool of yellow sludge surrounding my car. I get out to take a closer look, and as I approach the edge, the ground under my feet suddenly slopes, and I find myself immersed in the sludge. Although I am not in fear of drowning, I notice that it’s burning my skin, and try to swim to safety, reaching for anything anchored that I can hold onto. Finally I reach a chain link fence and manage to pull myself out of the sludge and over the fence. I am now on the athletic fields behind my high school and covered in caustic sludge that has eaten away all my clothing but my underwear. A police officer approaches me and assesses the situation by saying, “It was a close shave, but we saved everything but the lamp.”
—Swimming in Sludge
Dear Swimming (or should I say, “Aladdin”),
You begin by driving down the road toward a new job somewhere within the “bad part of town.” Venturing deeper and deeper into the heart of this nasty place, and noticing the colorful odor that it seems to emit, you suddenly wonder why you’re chasing after this job at all…
But you digress. Alarmed, you notice that this yellow smoke is not only coming from the smokestacks, but that the floor of one building is covered with the liquidy-goop form of this yellow substance. And it’s pulsating.
Holy yeesh, Doc—that’s the worst kind!
Undaunted, our hero plunges on—literally—before finding that the car is surrounded by a pool of this stuff. And like every great sympathetic yet nave protagonist, s/he steps in to take a closer look…
What follows cannot in good conscience be represented in this medium; it requires a frighteningly tense film montage accompanied by a score composed by John Williams.
Back at school, you find yourself in an interesting, dare I say compromising situation. Battered, beaten, and covered in sludge, you stand face to face with the law himself. Swallowing, you await his astute diagnosis of the situation. And then, only then does he utter the famous last words; the phrase second only to such lines as “I’ll be back” and “Here’s Johnny.”
The line surely stands on its own, and nothing more need be said about it. If I were to make some sense out of it, however—this being a column devoted to analysis and interpretation—I would first point out the obvious association between the Yellow Blob experience and the phrase “a close shave.”
Not your ordinary “close shave,” that is. The mother of them all. No ma’am, this is no grand day out even for Wallace and Gromit.
Thus, you have illustrated once again the subconscious’ capacity for humor—or randomness at the very least—through understatement with a twist.
What’s left is the line about the lamp. This appliance, it appears, is the only one to be counted among the lost; everything else made it. Now, I don’t know if the day before you had this dream, you helped your aunt move her lamp, or if you had just been shopping in a lamp store, or if you have ever turned on a lamp, or even if lamps signify some sense of enlightenment-more-enlightenment for you. I really don’t. This is where interpretation stops. The end of the line. For there are certain things which even I—and I am very proud of my modesty, mind you—cannot explain. Yes, some things—lamps—are best left to the experts.
Other than the obvious lamp symbolism, the other most notable thing in your dream is your apparent lack of panic, or any sort of noticeable aversion to the situation at all. In fact, you seem to be experiencing a lack of awareness of the impending doom, as you continue to forge your way into the lion’s den until it’s almost too late. “Almost too late,” here, meaning “so close that one more second and you would have been sizzled to a crisp faster than an ant in a microwave.” While you’re “not afraid of drowning,” you “notice” that this once interesting yellow substance is now “burning your skin.” The signs were there, but you waited until danger was literally eating away at you before you began to attempt avoiding it. Therefore, is seems that your subconscious is saying to you: “If you see worse and worse-looking buildings the more you near your destination, don’t wait until you’ve slip-slided into yellow goop before turning the car around.”
Now comes the part of the column where I say that the dreamer is not alone in his/her somewhat negative subconscious characteristic—here, the characteristic of not always noticing potentially hazardous situations when the warning signs are there. S/he’s not.
Readers, don’t wait until it’s “almost too late.” Who knows how much less quotable Officer Friendly will be been when you can’t salvage your underwear?