I had another nightmare last night - a sure sign that my mind's eye needs corrective lenses.
In my dream, I was living in a luxury apartment building on Third Avenue in Salt Lake City. I was standing on the terrace, when the structure began to fall apart. I tumbled to the ground, as did huge blocks of concrete and other residents who had been standing on their terraces.The apartment complex I dreamed of really exists but has never crumbled. What got it into my dream was its name - Terrace Falls.
We literal-minded thinkers have problems with a name like that. Our minds turn words into mental pictures, and the results can top anything Stephen King could dream up.
Say someone recommends a light-comedy film. He tells you it made him laugh his head off. You will dream about headless moviegoers for the next week.
Or maybe you finished a report a day early. Your boss says your work looks great and the next 24 hours is just "time to burn." She meant to make you feel proud. The next three nights, you dream of being burned at the stake, crackling on a spit and smoking in a huge frying pan.
When my boss tells me I need to start working my butt off, I tell him I will try, but I will need extra hours off for the aerobics classes.
On the other hand, having the angry driver in the next car threaten to "beat the tar out of you" evokes no fear at all in the literal minded. Why should it? There's no tar in us.
Most people aren't too careful with double meanings. My first day of fifth grade in New Jersey, the teacher slapped a ruler on the desk and told us not to get smart with her. I tried my best not to, even though it made sixth grade much harder.
And tell me, why does a person on his last leg always say he just needs a hand? It makes no sense at all. Besides, how does he even determine which is his first and last leg? If you try to discuss the question with him, he clouds the issue by telling you he doesn't need any of your lip. Who offered?
Once in a while, people say you will have to eat your words. That's good motivation not to write them with a poison pen. My own solution is to go through life with my foot in my mouth so words won't fit.
That tactic also keeps me from lying through my teeth.
My former boss was always having ideas and calling to offer me something off the top of his head. He's bald now. I could have predicted it.
Once in a while, my friends will catch on to my affliction with a literal mind, and will try to torture me. I'm not bothered by juvenile attempts, such as "it's raining cats and dogs."
I do get scared when a friend gets more sophisticated and starts talking about "brainstorms."
The umbrella strong enough to protect you during that kind of storm has not yet been designed. So just try not to think about it. It's the stuff nightmares are made of.