What can you say about how the human brain works? It's shortchanged and even insulted when referred to merely as "gray matter.” There's electricity going on! Like, sparks!
The twisted, trippy things our minds are capable of when we're sleeping almost make our waking lives mundane by comparison.
So while looking out our living room window one afternoon last weekend, my eyes come across a cat in a driveway across the street. I'm not only what you'd call a "cat person," I am, at least according to my own legend, a cat whisperer. I can turn even the most snarling, vicious feline into a cuddly, purring kitty with just a few soothing words and a gentle stroke along its back.
The cat makes its way across the street, and I see it has Siamese-like markings, which amps up my enthusiasm. It’s wearing a collar and I can see a red-colored metal heart hanging from it. This is a family cat, I deduce, and, therefore, more amenable to my whispers.
My wife says we should try to get it back home safely. That means I have/get to go into whisperer mode.
It goes under our pickup in our driveway. Standing on the steps nearby, I utter my patented "Kittykittykittykittykitty" greeting, and it leaves the safety of the pickup's undercarriage, walks toward the steps while meowing enthusiastically, and plops onto its side on the concrete, waiting for a pleasing scratching session, courtesy of the human nearby. I oblige, then pick it up and bring it to my wife so she can read the contact information on the little red heart. The pretty little cat is a bit agitated now, but a few soothing words from me soon slow its heart rate, and as I scratch his neck, his eyes slowly close in contented fashion.
My wife calls the number, and we are told that the cat, which lives nearby, is free to roam. I put it down and it trots off.
End of story? Most certainly not...not when you have a human brain!
Later that evening I'm watching the news. There's a high-speed police pursuit, and a man is leaning out the passenger's side window of a white Toyota Prius, shooting at the squad cars chasing the compact hybrid vehicle. Later that night, before I go to bed, I watch a nature show, and a couple of male lion brothers are engaging in an epic battle with a pack of shrieking hyenas.
I go to sleep, and rapid-eye-movements commence. This is when our brains – bored to distraction by this nightly, extended event in which we must lay down in order to recharge our batteries – go on their magical mystery tours.
I'm dreaming. I'm with my dad and we're hunting on a hillside. For what, I have no idea. It's snowing and dusk is upon us. It's time to call it a day. Only, there's something approaching in the distance. An animal, but what kind? It comes closer. My dad tries to get a better look through his rifle scope, but the snow is making it difficult. I strain my eyes to glean more details. It's a cat, and it's super-cute. It might even be Siamese. It's casually strolling toward us, maybe 60 yards away. The cat whisperer emerges once again. "Kittykittykittykittykittykittykittykitty," I say in my most inviting tone.
Then my bored-so-I'm-going-to-mess-with-you brain reminds me who's running the show at this point of the proceedings, and the kitty becomes an adult male lion. And now there are two of them, and their leisurely gait accelerates to an alarming pace.
My dad and I bolt up the hillside toward our vehicles. He gets in his, the make and model my brain doesn’t bother to identify. He peels out in the snow and speeds off. I arrive at my vehicle, which my acid-tripping mind has decided to specifically identify. It's a white Toyota Prius. And its battery pack is in serious need of a recharge. It’s stalled.
While my brain doesn’t explain why, the Prius starts to roll down the hill, and there’s no chance I’m going to catch it and climb in. The two lions are RIGHT THERE and it’s clear they’re not about to flop onto their sides in search of a belly rub. I don’t have a prayer. No “kittykitty” talk is going to save me. It’s fight-or-flight time, and I choose a frantic sprint through the snowy woods.
I’m about to be mauled to death, but dying in your dreams is usually seen as a fairly ominous development that extends even into our waking lives – or is that just in the horror movies?
No matter. My brain decides it’s time I close the curtain on this nightmarish scene. But even now my mind has a twisted sense of humor. Apparently, my legs are making an actual running motion in the bed, and one of my toenails scratches the calf on my other leg, triggering enough pain to jolt me awake.
The next morning, I show my wife the fresh scratch mark while explaining my adventures in dream land the previous night.
“You’re weird,” she says.
But alive, I respond.