Saturday, November 07, 2009

Flashback Friday: Recurring Nightmare

Yes, I’m writing my Flashback Friday on a Saturday. I’m allowed to do that because I just had a baby. Anyway…

In the defense of MOMster’s children, I will share one of the recurring nightmares of my childhood involving a beetle, and not just any beetle, but one of the most innocuous beetles known to childhood. The dreadful, the horrifying, the terrible…ladybug.

Yes, that same one featured in the nursery rhyme.

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home!
Your house is on fire and
Your children are alone.

The protagonist of more than one story in our book bin. The one plastering Rachel’s pyjamas. The one that no child is afraid of.

Yes, that one.

I’m not even afraid of ladybugs. I would let them climb to the tip of my finger and then fly off while I taunted them about their children being alone and dying in a house fire. I collected jarfuls of them in the autumn when they were most plentiful. I’ve been squirted with ladybug “juice,” which isn’t actually juice but, I just found out, blood.* Nice.

Even now that I know that “juice” was actually blood, I’m not bothered by ladybugs. Not in the least. If they had ladybugs here, I’d probably still pick them up. Why? Because ladybugs, under regular circumstances, aren’t scary.

However, sometimes in the middle of the night they turn into horrible, horrible monsters.

When I was around four years old (I know this because I started having the dream when we lived in that townhouse in Burnaby) I began to be haunted by a nightmare involving an undersized planet and an oversized ladybug and oil drain pan.

My dad, you see, used to change his own oil and he owned a red triangular oil drain pan. I remember watching the pan fill up with the old oil and found the whole process fascinating. Again, not scary, but coupled with a ladybug? Dreadful.

I don’t know how it came to be, exactly, but we—my family and a few other houses (I’m not sure who lived in those houses)—lived on a tiny planet not unlike B612, the home “planet” of the Little Prince (one of my favorite movies at the time). Our planet was larger, of course, since there was a complete neighbourhood of houses, but it was still a rather small planet.

The whole dream is cast in a reddish-orange colour, suggesting that either a sunrise or sunset, and is over very quickly. The storyline is uncomplicated and, frankly, unresolved since I never stayed asleep long enough to see what happens when the dream ends.

Basically everyone is happily going about their business on our tiny B612 planet when I notice a huge glob appearing on the horizon. It is much larger than a car, taking up the entire road. We froze in fright and stared at the monstrously huge ladybug approaching us, pushing in front of it a supersized oil drain pan full of gunky, used oil. The ladybug, fully visible now, tipped the oil pan over, flooding our small planet with oil. We started running away from the spill, but there was no where to run, what with our planet being so small.

I always wake up while the world is filling with oil and there is no escape, so I never see if we all die or if there is some heroic effort on my part or if some other hero is introduced. I have no idea what happens next, other than that I would wake up in a complete panic.

When I think back on the dream now, it seems rather silly, but I was only four (and five, and six, and seven…) and it all seemed so real.

Of course, if the dream were real it would be rather scary. I mean, an oil spill that covers the whole world? A ladybug as wide as a road? Sounds like a good start to a poorly written horror flick…

* According to Wikipedia, “mechanical stimulation (such as by predator attack [or, might I add, being played with by children]) causes "reflex bleeding" in both larval and adult ladybird beetles, in which an alkaloid toxin is exuded through the joints of the exoskeleton, deterring feeding. Ladybugs, as well as other Coccinellids are known to spray a toxin that is venomous to certain mammals and other insects when threatened.”

1 comment:

  1. You know, The Little Prince used to give me nightmares, too. I think it was those illustrations of the snake eating an elephant or whatever it was. Funny that you remember it so well!