This morning I was getting ready for work, pulling on some tights I'd yanked from the makeshift underwear drawer I've been using in the spare bedroom and a skirt I'd found in the pile of clothes that habitually sits on the computer chair in the bedroom where we sleep. As I was dressing, trying to make record time (no makeup, no fun jewelry, reminding myself to toast an English muffin to eat in the car on the way to the train), J, who would drive me to the station and then return home to dress at a more leisurely and civilized pace, turned over and started sleepily telling me about some abstract situation, thus striking dread in my heart, because damnit, he was telling me about his dream.
"I was in, like, a conference room, and then I saw some of my friends, and then - no - wait, first I was in a meeting, and then..."
I looked at him in disbelief, because seriously, how many times have I told him not to do this? Not to tell me about his dreams? Millions. Maybe more than that.
I realize saying I don't like to hear about peoples' dreams sounds cruel almost. Like, "Hey, you know that cool story you wanted to tell me? The one that doesn't make any sense and you think is really, really funny? Well, that sounds great, but seriously, shut it."
But come on, admit it. Hearing someone else's dream - unless you happen to play a major role in it - is boring, right up there with listening to someone tell you the plot of a movie or TV show you haven't seen. It's even worse than most boring things, because the other person involved obviously thinks this dream is the most awesome thing that ever happened, and you have two choices: pretend you're enjoying while muffling groans and frantically racking your brain for some excuse to change the subject or tell that person you DO NOT want to hear it and risk hurting their feelings.
With J, however, I mean, we're married, and being straight up about stuff doesn't mean we're hurting each other's feelings like it might have when we were first dating. "Don't go out in your sweatpants," "You have funny looking toes," "Please, no more birds today." We're over it.
So when J wakes up and says, "You will NOT BELIEVE this dream I had last night!" I feel it's my right to remind him that I absolutely, under no circumstances want him to tell me. No matter how intrigued he thinks I am. Even if you had a dream that you were in an episode of "The Sopranos." Even if you had a dream that you were at a party with some guy from high school that you haven't seen for 15 years. Especially not then.
My friend Jennifer, who hates hearing other peoples' dreams as much as I do, said her rule is that she only wants to hear about the dream if she's in it and/or you can summarize the dream in 20 seconds or less. I think that last part is an excellent guideline because the length of time it takes most people to fully explain, in agonizing detail, what they dreamed about is one of the most excruciating parts of the whole ordeal. "Wait, I was in the room, but then...my dad was there, oh my God! And my roommate from college! So were were all going to this party....and, oh - wait! NOW I remember....first I was at the doctor's office and for some crazy reason the doctor kept making me drink all this orange juice, but hold on, even before that I was in this sailboat..."
Really? FOR REAL? OH MY GOD, I don't care! I DON'T CARE!
The thing is, of course, my husband isn't going to stop telling me his dreams and I'm probably never going to get violent enough to force him to. So I suppose this back and forth will remain one of the charming little anecdotes of our marriage. And if not there's always the old "Just keep talking, I'm going into the next room but I'm still listening" routine (a.k.a. exit stage left, turn on hairdryer, drown it out).