I awoke from a bad dream a little after four in the morning. I knew I probably would not get back to sleep before the alarm went off so I resigned myself to enduring insomnia for the next hour and a half. To be honest, it wasn’t so bad. I got had gotten enough sleep so I wouldn’t feel like hell for the rest of the day, and it felt nice and cozy in the dark bedroom. Just as it’s true that nothing good happens out on the streets at that hour, nothing bad happens when you’re hunkered down under the blankets.
I was thinking about what goes on when babies are born. Not childbirth, that’s nothing I’ll have to go through thanks to my lack of the requisite equipment. Instead, I thought about the phrase “all its fingers and toes.”
For those put off by my choice of possessive pronoun, I can explain. Using either “his” or “her” shows gender bias, and using “his or her” reinforces the gender binary. By using “its,” I can avoid both while expressing my disdain for babies.
Now that that’s settled, I can get back to the issue I was dealing with at the time.
If I had been more awake, I might have imagined “all its fingers and toes” being the meat of a question a parent might ask the doctor who delivered the baby. It’s a legitimate concern. Also reasonable would be the doctor volunteering unprompted that the baby has the full digital complement, and if addressing the mother, perhaps adding “You really dodged a bullet. Next time, try to go easy on the thalidomide.”
I picked neither of these options. Instead, I pictured the fingers-toes question being asked of a parent by a friend or acquaintance. Who would ask such a thing? I might, but only because I have no social skills. It’s the kind of question that might earn a chuckle or two, provided the kid popped out of the womb healthy and with all its parts. If not, the situation could turn awkward.
“So, does your baby have all its fingers and toes?”
“Nope, it’s pretty much just a dick and an eyeball.”
See what I mean?
You may think I’m an idiot for having this as a default scenario, regardless of the early hour. In my defense, I did just wake up from a bad dream that got me fixated on fingers and toes. It was also sufficiently unsettling for my transition to wakefulness to be rushed and not entirely smooth.
The dream began pleasantly enough. I went into a pizzeria for a bite to eat. The family who ran the place were welcoming and full of smiles. The next thing I knew, I was tied to a chair and my digits were being cut off. Through a one-way mirror, I watched bits of them fed to the other customers.
I managed to get away from the pizzeria. The actual escape did not happen in the dream, but I somehow found myself out on the street. I knew I was not out of danger and if I stayed where I was, I would be recaptured.
I ran up to someone and started pleading for help. He looked at me like I was insane and I must have appeared that way, waving my arms and ranting about forced amputation and unwitting cannibalism. Just then, a man from the pizzeria showed up to take me away.
He was an affable brute, apologizing for any trouble I may have caused. He said I was not a bad person, just very disturbed and in need of constant care.
I was not about to let this happen. I held out my hands in front of the man I approached to show him the missing fingers. Only now, none of them were gone. Undeterred, I took off a shoe and sock, and presented my foot. All five toes were there. Before I could take off the other shoe, I was hauled away.
I woke up soon after that, but before I did, the voice of a narrator chimed in. My guess is that whatever part of my psyche that was running the show must have seen that even Dream Dave knew this made no sense.
“Little did he realize that it was not his, but someone else’s fingers and toes that were cut off,” the narrator explained in a tone reminiscent of Criswell.
My eyes opened and I immediately called bullshit. If all the nastiness happened to someone else, then what was I running away from? I felt shaken and more than a little cheated. Not only did I have to endure a terrible nightmare, it had a stupid ending that added insult to injury.
We quickly forget most of our dreams, and with good reason. They don’t hold up under the scrutiny of the awake world. Maybe they do for some, but only the sort who also believe that Sandy Hook was an inside job.
Bless their magical-thinking hearts. Proud that I was not like them, I turned my attention toward amusing myself with the subject of birth defects.