The Biplane of Discomfort

A while ago, I was listening to an episode of This American Life that talked about dreams, specifically about how boring it is when a person is subjected to the recounting of another’s sleepy-time imaginings.

It reminded me of a dream I had that has stuck with me for years, and that I felt might possibly be worth sharing.

So, here’s my dumb dream that you hopefully don’t find boring:

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              A friend of mine has purchased a biplane. According to the logic of dreams, there was no preamble or lead-up to the moment I found myself in when the dream began. She and I were there, with the plane, on a hill overlooking a cliff. The colours were all heightened, with the green grass swaying in a slight breeze, the blue sky beaming down on the ketchup-and-mustard colouring of the one-seater plane.

              She is explaining to me that she’s just got her pilot’s license, but that the plane is an old one. While she can fly, the plane will need to go over the cliff to get enough momentum for takeoff.

              I’m pretty impressed and tell her that this is really great, but since it’s only got the one seat, I can’t help but wonder why she’s asked me here.

              “I want you to come for the maiden voyage,” she tells me.

              I’m working out the logistics and can’t quite figure myself into the picture.

              “But where will I sit?” I ask.

              She points to one of the wings. “You can sit on the wing and hold on,” she says.

              In the dream, I’m ok with this idea, while in reality, I would have been back in the car and on the road home at the thought of some improvised wing-walking. It’s not the fear that’s the issue in the dream – it’s the physics.

              “The plane won’t be balanced if I sit on the wing,” I tell her.

              “Oh, I know,” she says. “That’s why I invited someone else.”

              Out of nowhere, appears her second passenger, the jolly, smiling figure of John Goodman. The actor.

              “Hi,” he says with a smile, extending his hand. “I’m John Goodman.”

              I nod and shake his hand, very happy to be meeting the man, but stuck on my original concern.

              “You’re here to take a ride in the plane?” I ask.

              He nods. “Yep, gonna be really exciting.”

              I turn to my friend. “We’re both going to be riding on the wings?”

              She nods.

              John says, “Yes, you on one and me on the other.”

              “But John Goodman,” I start (throughout the dream, I use his full name whenever I address him), “I… uh, don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

              He gives me a quizzical look. “Why not?” he asks.

              Now, I’m not the thinnest guy in the world, but I’m no John Goodman. And here I am, faced with telling an actor I respect that this might not be the most balanced of see-saws with him on one end and me on the other.

              “There a problem?” he asks, and in the dream, there is the distinct feeling that he knows what I’m on about with the balance issue.

              Not wanting to offend the man, I shake my head. “No, no. No problem.”

              My friend smiles as she climbs into the pilot’s seat, John Goodman smiles as he takes his position on one wing, and I frown with concern as I climb onto mine.

              As the plane thunders toward the cliff, I wonder if it was worth being polite, or if I should’ve voiced my concerns. This could be, after all, the last plane ride I take.

              The dream switches to some sort of third person camera perspective and I see myself and my two flying companions all plummet over the side of the cliff, and there’s a lingering moment when nothing happens and aside from the wind rushing through the vegetation, not a sound can be heard.

              And then I awoke.

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So, there’s my strange dream. Hopefully, it made you smile just a little.