They say that as you get older, your memory starts to fail. Well, turns out that’s not entirely true – I for one can remember some dreams I had as vividly as when they first happened. One doozy in particular still haunts me.
When I was pregnant for the first time in 1968, I dreamed often. In this one particular dream I’ve just had my long-awaited and treasured new baby. I have called all my relatives and friends to come and meet her. Yep, it was a her.
I’m standing in a room, holding the swaddled baby, alone* amid a circle of admirers – all friends and family, all grinning, admiring, cooing. I am in the circle and it’s slow motion and I’m slowly moving around so that everyone can get a good view of my beautiful brand-new infant in my arms.
After twirling ever-so-slowly about, a number of times, to the coos of all, I sense something very strange starting to happen. Their admiration has changed and they are now looking at us in dawning horror. I (maddeningly slowly!) look down at the baby. But now – oh no! – she is suddenly not a baby any longer!
No, she is now a monkey! She has metamorphosed into a capuchin monkey, still wrapped in the swaddling blanket.
I scream and scream, in that nightmarish echo-ey way of bad dreams. I scan the people surrounding me, searching for help. Then I see him.
It is my obstetrician, Dr. Stumblebum**! He’ll have the answer! I shriek, “Dr. Stumblebum! Look at her! What’s happening?! She’s turned into a monkey!” (Look, I can’t help it if I stated the obvious. This was a dream, I had no say in the matter.)
Dr. Stumblebum looks at me with piercing, accusing eyes. It is a look that makes me shiver to the core, even now, as I think back on it.
“Well,” he says, coldly, chiding, “you know, I warned you. You smoke…”***
*alone – a harbinger of my single-parenthood state of the future, perhaps
**Not his real name.
***Full confession – I was a hardened smoker right up until 2003. I smoked in spite of the guilt that – even as early as 1968 – had set in. More on this in my post, The Making of a Nicotine Addict, 1956.