The other day I noticed something unusual as I slipped some of my dinner under the table for our cat Jack and puppy Birdie: it’s easier to slip mashed potatoes under the table than trying to push a whole turkey down there. Also, people tend to notice when the critters begin fighting for the legs. I also noticed that Jack is a lot more selective in what he does and doesn’t eat, whereas Birdie will eat first and wonder what it was later.  It’s a known fact (I like saying that – ‘a known fact’ – as if what you say after should not be questioned) that dogs and cats have different tastes. Dogs prefer postmen and cats prefer my bare legs.

After a bit of research I discovered that dogs have about twice the taste buds of a cat, and that’s why our feline friends tend to be cats are finicky eaters.  If I try giving him a kernel of corn he’ll look at me and say “You’ve got to be joking.  Where’s the beef?”  That’s when I remind him of the time I failed my furniture-making finals in college because the professor found a piece of corn in my stool.  Jack doesn’t appreciate the fine art of woodworking humor. Birdie, on the other hand, will laugh at anything as long as I keep the food coming.  She doesn’t even waste time chewing.  She reminds me of a vacuum cleaner, especially between meals when she licks the dining room floor trying to get every last atom of dropped vittles.  Cats, though, are persnickety about what they eat.  Most foods taste like cardboard.  Actually, cardboard isn’t all that bad if you toss a little spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese on it.  But try selling that to a cat.   I bet every cat owner in the world has at least once in their life gone out and bought some kind of food or treat they think their kitty will like only to have it turn into a science experiment on mold growth. Dogs, though, will eat poop wrapped in cardboard even without the spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese.  Well, at least Birdie will.  She doesn’t even need the cardboard.  The first time I saw her wolf down some dried number two I almost threw up.  I’m glad I didn’t because Birdie would have considered it a hot lunch.  Now I use her to keep the litter box clean.  If you see my son Adam, don’t tell him this as it may cause him to change his mind about letting Birdie lick his tonsils.  No wonder Jack considers Birdie some sort of mutant alien species. Believe it or not, scientists even have a name for this.  It’s called ‘coprophagy’.  I don’t care what they call it.  I’m thinking of farming her out to some of the neighbors – for a fee, of course.  
But then I read that humans have about twice the taste buds of a dog.  Wait just one minute here.  If that’s true, we’ll pretty much eat anything that fits in our mouths. Now everything is starting to make sense.  There’s a reality show on TV that spotlights people with weird eating disorders.  I saw a lady who likes to chew on chalk. Whenever she farts dust flies out her butt.  I feel sorry for her kids.  “Ok, who’d turn is it to take my cheeks out back and bang the powder off of them?” Then I saw a man who made it into the Guinness record books for eating a freakin’ CAR!  Man, I wouldn’t want to be his plumber.  I can see how someone could consume a car, especially if they chopped it up small enough and followed with some white Zinfandel.  What would really impress me is to see the guy put the car back together again after it passes through his digestive system.  Gives new meaning to the term “piece of shit”. That reality show has people gnawing on about everything you can imagine.  There is an actual record of this man in 1985 who had to have surgery after doctors found – get this: 212 objects in his stomach, including fifty-three toothbrushes, two razors, two radioscopic aerials and 150 handles of razors. That’s not even the worst case! In 1927 a 42 year old woman went to the doctor complaining of slight abdominal pain, and they eventually found 2,533 objects in her stomach, including 947 bent pins!  What a
cheap date.  “Listen, you start in
on the napkin holder and salt shaker while I get a salad.” 
No wonder Birdie considers humans some sort of mutant alien species.  Point taken. 
Now I’m starting to get a bit hungry.  I wonder how this keyboard will taste
with a touch of garlic in an oil soup?

Last night I had an Army-college-work dream, and I woke up exhausted this morning.  On any given night I’m liable to dream that I’m still a uniform-wearing Combat Medic/human guinea pig, or that I’m back in college as usual trying to get out of class, or that I’m either driving a taxi or working patients up for a doctor.  But all in one?  Remind me not to mix Rice-A-Roni with gummy bears again.  And extra fudge.  Gotta have the fudge.

Dreams have always fascinated me. As a child, I had this recurring dream that I was in a strange house rummaging around in an upstairs bedroom where I found a secret door, and upon opening it was able to see into a completely different world from the sky as if I were looking out of an airplane window, except it was, you know, a door.  I stepped over the threshold like a big dummy and began to fall toward the ground.  My dream sight is a heck of a lot better than my waking peepers, because I instantly noticed that everything - the clouds, the birds, the idiots that followed me, the forests and mountains below - was made entirely of cotton candy.  What a freakish coincidence!  I happen to love the stuff.  As I plummeted, I reached over and grabbed a couple of handfulls of clouds and munched them down.  The cool thing about cotton candy is that it dissolves in your mouth and disappears.  Food's little magic snack!  When I awoke (right before landing on a pink and blue cotton candy Jersey cow which would have been cool) my pillows were gone, and from that day on have had an aversion to chicken feathers.  But not cotton candy.  As a matter of fact, when National Left-Handed Writers Day rolls around again you can send me as much of that manna as you wish. It weighs next to nothing, and that keeps shipping costs down.

Let’s talk about the meanings of dreams.  I’ve already suggested that our dreams can be influenced by what we eat prior to going to sleep. But that only goes so far.  You can’t blame every chased-while-naked-in-Times-Square dream on pizza.  There is a gaggle of ‘experts’ who try to make a living telling you what your dreams are all about.  Buy one of those “Dreaming for Dummies” books and you’re liable to be turning over your next paycheck to some psychic with a third grade education who will read your palm and the bumps on your behind as they're gazing at your stars and wallet.  Look, if you've dreamt that your teeth are falling out, those guys will try telling you it’s all about hidden anxieties, fear of rejection or menopause. What a bunch of hooey.  You probably forgot to brush your teeth before you went to bed, or else you’re worried that jerk living next to you will catch you peeking at his girlfriend sunbathing and deliver a knuckle sandwich, heavy on the mustard minus the pickles.  Bottom line is this: they’re your dreams, and they’re custom fit for you.  It’s silly to think that everyone on the planet that dreams of being naked in Times Square (ok, that’s the second time I’ve used that metaphor, but that’s the image in my head, and I’m stickin’ with it) is afraid of being exposed about something or another. I may be having that dream because I left my clothes at home, or forgot to pay the laundry bill, or want everyone to see my marvelous physique.  Well, ok, that may be stretching it a little, but you get the idea.  The body of a God: Buddha.

The coolest dreams have got to be the ones where you can fly (I'm talking about telling gravity it can shove it while you leap tall buildings in a single bound or beat up a truckload of redneck demons with one foot tied behind your back. If cotton candy gives me that kind of dream, I’ll take seconds.  I love it when I somersault out of a car doing eighty miles an hour, have time for a full manicure and pedicure while sailing through the air, and then land in the middle of an earthquaking tornado without messing up a single hair on my head. Those kinds of dreams are awesome, and for the record, you should never be afraid of dying if you fall and land in your dream.  Just be afraid of where it bounces you.  Have you ever been just on the shy side of barely asleep, headed there with a big gob of cotton candy,and find yourself walking down a flight of stairs and trip, and that makes you jerk awake like you’ve just been tazed?  I hate when that happens, especially if I'm headed down to the kitchen for another helping of that sweet nothingness.

I've been told I speak in my dreams, but that I mumble so low no one can make out what I’m saying.  What you don’t know (well, I mean, what you're actually about to know as soon as I stop this blather) is that in the dreamworld I’m proficient in mumble-speak – all fifty-four dialects.  I also know a smattering of gargleese and can snore in twenty nine different languages.  For me, the weirdest dream is the one where I know everybody and I’m familiar with my environment like I’ve lived there all my life, but the moment I wake up I have no earthly idea where I was or who those freaky people were.  Usually that sort of dream is so real I’m discombobulated for awhile upon awakening.  Reminds me of Chuang Tzu when he said, “I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting about in the sky; then I awoke.  Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man?”  I’m not sure, but if I were you (and I might very well be) I’d lay off the Moo Goo Gai Pan for at least an hour before you go to bed next time.

I’d love to continue this conversation, but there's a world of cotton candy just waiting for me in my dreams.  A word of warning:  Cotton  candy rots your teeth out, but that's ok because you don't need teeth to gobble it up. Sweet dreams!