First Lecture

Day one of specialized courses on human awkwardness and uncomfortable situations.

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Welcome, class! I’m Dr. Ron Morpheus, and today is our first lecture of “Introduction to Describing Your Dreams to Someone Who Obviously Doesn’t Care”!

So, a little about me: I’m originally from Dayton, Ohio, my doctorate is from USC and last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a library—it was like the university library, but the crown molding was grey instead of beige—and all the books were written by my ex-girlfriend, Carla. The librarian, the assistants, and the other patrons were clones of my other ex-girlfriend, Brenda, except they all had the nose of a toucan and arcade machine claws instead of hands. I wore a purple sequin tuxedo and every pocket contained an engagement ring box holding a lone Honey Nut Cheerio. What do you think it means?

Everyone who has raised your hand—and it appears to be half the class—I know you’re lying. You don’t care. You’re pretending to have an opinion to earn brownie points with an authority figure, but really you stopped listening as soon as I said “dream.” If one of your friends had told you that story, you would have muttered “wow that’s crazy” and changed the subject. That’s the instinctual human reaction to hearing about someone else’s dream.

It creates a problem, however. You don’t want to hear about my dream, but I want to tell you. Desperately. Blathering on about one’s own dream is one of life’s greatest pleasures, a kind of psychological masturbation that satisfies our basest desire to aggrandize the value-less content of our unconscious minds. My dream is infinitely interesting to me, because personally, I think I’m fascinating. You probably think you’re fascinating too. Neither of us, however, finds the other even mildly intriguing.

We call this principle the Scales of Differential Dream Interest.

Imagine a set of scales, level and perfectly balanced. On one side of the scales we place my interest in my own dream, which is massive. Just massive. I mean, did you hear the part about the toucan noses? That’s weird right? Maybe the tough beak represents Brenda’s constant criticism of everything I did, or maybe it’s about her obsession with sunflower seeds… I could talk about this forever.

When something very heavy is placed on a set of scales, what happens to the other side? Why, it rises, of course. When one side of the scales drops as far as it can, the other side rises just as far. As interested as I am in my own dream, you are equally, mind-numbingly bored by it.

The very strangeness I find so incredibly fascinating, you find random and nonsensical. I may as well choose words from a hat and mix them together. Did I tell you about the garden hose bicuspid stapler? What about the tundra couch document? You don’t care, because to you, it’s just an illogical mess of ideas.

The garden hose bicuspid stabler was a real thing from a dream I had last week, by the way. Isn’t that strange? It was a red Swingline, like the one from the movie Office Space, but bigger, and lined with bicuspids like rows of shark teeth. It was attached to the end of a garden hose like a grappling hook, if you can believe it. I used it to swing across a ballroom by the chandelier during what appeared to be my own senior prom. All the couples on the dance floor were clones of my ex-girlfriend Carla and Peaches, my childhood golden retriever. Weird, right? I wonder what it means?

Before I share my theories on that dream—which, believe me, are detailed and many—let’s go over the syllabus. This semester you’ll learn how to overcome and control the disinterest of your conversational partner, so you can ramble on indefinitely about your pointless, mental sleep trash. It’s a zero-sum game, but I’ll give you the knowledge to always come out on top!

Starting today, I want you all to keep thorough dream journals. To give you some idea of what that looks like, I’ll read a few dozen excerpts from mine. Which, by the way, is a strategy I’ll be teaching you later in the semester. Whenever you can, find a captive audience.