The Nightmare World of Dr. Seuss

Today’s blog entry is thanks to a Hallowe’en meme (a screaming memie?) that Gina  filled in. One of the questions is:

Have you ever had nightmares about a scary movie character chasing you?

I left her the comment that I once had a nightmare after being read a Dr. Seuss book. So, just in case you’re intrigued, Gina, allow me to elaborate.

Dr. Seuss’s famous book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish appeared in 1960. I appeared in 1961. I don’t know when our parents got hold of a copy, but it was a big enough hit that more Dr. Seuss books followed, despite my abduction.

This is the offending passage in One Fish Two Fish:

The moon was out

And we saw some sheep.

We saw some sheep

Take a walk in their sleep.

By the light of the moon,

By the light of a star,

They walked all night

From near to far.

I would never walk.

I would take a car.

Well, at some point — most likely after dozens of readings — I had a bad dream.

In my dream, it was night. I was looking out my bedroom window onto the backyard and the dirt road beyond. I watched them coming, that line of sheep, sleepwalking single file on their hind legs, up the rise towards the house. Then I heard a knock.

I went to the back door and opened it. There was one of the sheep, towering over me — or was it? By the time I realized it was the Big Bad Wolf, wearing a sheepskin like a magistrate’s powdered wig, it had already seized me in its arms and was carrying me off towards the road.

I woke up screaming, I guess, because Dad was there in an instant, listening to my story and tucking the covers back under my chin. I slept okay for the rest of that night, but I’ve never forgotten that dream. And it took years before I realized that I must have heard one of my parents, or maybe the TV, saying something about a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and worked it into my dream.

So if that’s the way I react to children’s books, I hope you’ll all forgive me when I say that I don’t usually watch horror films.

7 Responses to The Nightmare World of Dr. Seuss

  1. Gina says:

    Your dream must have made a huge impression on you for you to remember it until adulthood. I was never lucky enough to have Dr. Seuss read to me when I was little…my mother hated the nonsense writing. I loved it though. Green Eggs and Ham was my favorite.
    I love your limerick for E.G.!!

  2. lavenderbay says:

    I can picture you curled up in a corner, Gina, reading Green Eggs and Ham aloud to yourself in a half-whisper, and giggling.
    You’re right about the huge impression. Most of my dreams are just anxious scraps of situation, like trying to drive from the passenger’s seat, or finally locating my school locker after miles of corridor, only to realize I don’t know the lock combination. Besides the sheep dream and the recent bus-to-the-Underworld dream — both of which, now, I’ve written up in this blog — there’s only one other dream, from when I was ten, which made a complete story and whose images are still vivid.
    And I’m glad you noticed the latest limerick! They really are fun to cobble together.

  3. If you are having nightmares inspired by children’s books then you have no need to ever see a horror flick.

    I don’t ever recall having a nightmare about a horror flick. Real life is hard enough as is, sleep on that one.

  4. jamesviscosi says:

    Hmm, you may want to avoid reading most of my books … 😮

    Did you ever read “Where The Wild Things Are”?

  5. lavenderbay says:

    Yep, I’m pretty pathetic, Urban Thought! Also during my preschool years, I got to watch The Wizard of Oz on TV. The soldiers guarding the witch’s castle, with their bass voices keeping time to their precise, severe march, were almost more than I could bear. And they weren’t even in colour!
    The most recent real-life horror flick I’ve seen is The Pianist. Excellent film — but such unabated, matter-of-fact brutality.

    Not the gruesome ones anyway, James. Do you have a grim-ometer on your writing blog? I’ll have to go look.
    I did read Where the Wild Things Are, and loved it, but I was by then a sensible, sophisticated six-year-old.

  6. Alyson says:

    If it helps, I’ve watched your share of horror movies plus my own…and ALL through my fingers 🙂

  7. lavenderbay says:

    The music affects me as much as the visuals, Alyson, so I think I would simply close my eyes and save my fingers for my ears!

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