Crowds and Donuts–What nightmares are made of

I’m the type of person who doesn’t remember dreams. Only on rare occasions will I wake up in the morning with a vague feeling that I dreamt about something. It’s never anything that I can put a finger on and say, “Well, that was a fun ride.” Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s simply getting out of bed and shuffling off to start another day without a hint of what battles might have been fought (and lost) in my head.

This week, everything changed. I’ve been having vivid dreams–no, vivid nightmares. And I remember all the details when I wake up with a sudden start. No, I’ve not taken a page out of Timothy Leary’s Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test. No sudden interest in gardening for psychedelic mushrooms either. I have discovered my ticket to nightmare-land and the dreamscape is through prescription antiviral medication. Massive doses of the stuff.

In fairness, the Pharmacist did say there may be some sleep disturbances while taking this medication. Sleep disturbances–that’s an understatement.

One particular “sleep disturbance” woke me short of breath, with a sheen of sweat from the terror-filled visions.

It started like this:

I’m walking down a dark unfamiliar city street and it’s vacant. Utterly empty and devoid of life. I’m not looking for anything in particular when I spot people darting past on the next block. When I get to the corner, hundreds of people are running–all in the same direction–and I can’t see what they are running from. No monsters, zombies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or solar panel salesmen were chasing the mob my direction.

So, I join them. I didn’t run at first, but then the frenzy of the crowd took over and I found myself sprinting along with them. (This should have been the first clue to my psyche–running–as if) It took a while for me to figure out where we were going. I overheard the people in the crowd next to me. Excitement. Anticipation. Reward. We were heading to–a donut shop.

WTF, right? A donut shop. But, you have to realize in my dream, this was not just any donut shop, this was THE donut shop. This was Donut World. Their crispy confections were world renown and the donuts were life-changing. I had to get my hands on their donuts.

The hungry running pack reaches the front of the store and we stand in long lines that snake back and forth like the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland. Signs outside said the wait time was hours-long and everyone around me said these donuts were worth the wait.

The line chugs forward and I catch the glimpse of the top of a glass display case. So close now. Three people are feverishly working behind the counter to keep up with the orders from the people in line. It appears to be a family; mom working in the back baking and taking orders, dad running pink bakery boxes from the back room, and a young girl taking fistfuls of cash at the register.

I was so close, I could taste it. I was overcome with fresh bakery smells. But, it wasn’t like any donut smell I’d ever encountered. Sweet and full of promise.

My turn came.

“What Can I get for you?” the mom asks.

“Donuts?” I said. “Like, why else would I be here?”

“We don’t have any donuts.”


“We have cake. You want cake?’ the woman said.

“No, I’m here for the donuts,” I said.

“Cake. You can have cake,” she said. The mom wipes her hands on the front of her green apron and taps on the glass cases right in front of me.

The cases are full of cake–slices of dry looking yellow cake with chocolate frosting. No devil’s food cake, no angel food cake, no fruit basket cake and nothing other than the slabs of uninspired yellow cake.

“Where are the donuts? I need donuts.” Panic seeds begin to sprout at this point.

“We don’t have any,” she repeats. Mom gets perturbed. The line of people behind me pushes me forward.

“This is Donut World and you don’t have any donuts?” I turn to the line behind me, “They don’t have any donuts!”

Instead of the food riot I anticipate, all I receive in return are blank stares and a one comment, “Come on man, give us a chance. It’s cake day.”

The people behind me push me aside. I reach over the wall of humanity and yell, “Why don’t you have donuts?” I’m panicking like I’m being thrown from the deck of a sinking ship into shark-infested waters.

I get no response and the mass of cake-eaters force me out the door without a donut to call my own. I’m doomed…

This is the point where I woke up with my heart beating fast and short of breath. I couldn’t fall back asleep after this donut trauma.

The thing is, I’m not a huge donut fan. I’m sure there is some dream interpretation of this nightmare where the donut represents something that I’m searching for and can’t have. All I can say is pharmaceuticals are real. I may have found a new cure for writer’s block.

Sweet dreams and take your antivirals responsibly…





  1. elenahartwellauthor · · Reply

    What it means is you need some play time with #NotMyCat. It could also mean that #NotMyCat wants a donut. Lastly, and of this I’m sure … now I really want a donut. Thanks a lot, James!

    1. #NotMyCat would like a bird flavored donut. She did bring me a “present” this week. Now go enjoy a donut. You’ve earned one!

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