By Jordan Doll
Published Issue 039, March 2017
Aah, sleep: For many of us, our only respite from this constant roller coaster of bullshit called existence. I mean, it’s like every day with this stuff! The job, the bills, the jerks on the freeway, the bills again, the scene at the post office, the police, the taser, the court costs. Believe me! I get it! Sometimes it feels like the only time that really belongs to us is our time spent asleep. Our time spent in dreams. Alone, with our most private hopes and fantasies. That’s right, in there it’s just you, a car that is also a taco but is also kind of a snake, and some weirdo that you’ve never seen before watching hungrily from the periphery. Wait, what? Who the hell is that guy? Excuse me, sir? Can I see some ID? Sir! …
If this sounds like something that has happened to you then congratulations (and so sorry)! You are one of several thousand people to date who have reported being visited in their dreams by the odd figure known simply as “This Man,” a moniker taken from the website thisman.org that first began tracking the phenomenon which asks visitors on their home page if they “Ever dream This Man?” Below the question, in never-not-terrifying police-sketch-artist style, is a picture of the man that so many people claim to be dreaming of. And a dreamboat he is not.
With his beetling brow and avuncular hairline, This Man looks like he would be more at home dripping nacho cheese on his good turtleneck down at the dog track than tooling around the dreamscape, making cameos in the subconscious fantasies of hundreds of hapless sleepers. And yet there is something absolutely chilling about looking at the picture. As though by spending just a moment too long gazing at his oddly calm countenance, his I know something you don’t knowwww smile, you might accidentally be inviting This Man into your dreams. Like leaving a window ajar in the castle of your mind.
According to the website, the sketch of This Man first appeared when the patient of a well-known psychiatrist drew it in order to better describe the man she had been having recurring dreams about. That psychiatrist just left that picture lying about when they went out to lunch (presumably for tossed salad and scrambled eggs) at which point it was spotted by another patient who said Holy shit, me too. A website is made. The website goes viral. People from around the world start coming forward to report their nocturnal encounters with this dream creeper! And I DO mean nocturnal encounters, mrrrowr! *eyebrow stuff* *too much eye contact* *long, awkward silence*
Dreams about This Man run the gamut from innocuous to outright threatening. Sometimes he is just another face in the crowd at SeaWorld, relaxing and enjoying watching John Travolta perform tricks for mackerel like everybody else in this dream. While other times he is a much more malevolent force. In one story, he carts a man’s dead parents out in front of him before yelling at the baffled sleeper to “Go North,” a phrase that has appeared in more than one encounter. A startling number of people have also described having had erotic encounters with This Man, and rather enjoying themselves for that matter, regardless of their real life sexual preferences. Whatever the setting almost everyone who encounter’s This Man can agree on one thing: He is almost always cloaked in an aura of pure menace and malevolence.
So what’s the deal with this little jerk? Who the hell is he? And more importantly, who the hell does he THINK he is!? Popping in and out of people’s dreams all uninvited like. Spookin’ ‘em. Lovin’ ‘em. Leavin’ ‘em like that. Breakin’ hearts.
Well, there are a number of theories. The first thing that jumps to the mind of any rational person is “OHHHHH MY GOOOOOD, we got us a dreamwalker! He’s some sort of X-Men mutant or a disgruntled wizard’s apprentice who’s been using the Mask of Somnambulism on his coffee breaks. Just dancing around the dreamscape helping himself to the endless buffet of our collective subconscious. Get my dream machete, Ma. I’m goin’ in!!!” Obviously that is the most likely scenario, but let’s consider, for a moment, a few alternate theories. Is there a chance that This Man is simply an amalgamation of people and faces that everyone sees throughout the day? A sort of “basic human: model 0010” that appears when our brain needs a filler character. If so, then why the menace? Why the sleazy personality? Is this who we all are deep down? Could This Man be some sort of jungian archetype that exists within the dreams of every person? A primal and erotic agent of chaos, an echo of Pan conjured up at the behest of certain emotional or environmental cues? Maybe he is a traveler from the future who is trying to warn us of the menace he represents. What’s that? Go North? But why? Or perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, This Man is just one of those things that a bunch of people have simply decided to play along with because they think it’s funny and they have the time.
Look, dreams are weird. Psychiatrists have spent their entire lives trying to understand them only to mutter “dreams are weird” on their deathbeds. We all have them and nobody knows why. Because dreams. Are. Weird. But they are also maybe the most personal form of consciousness a human being can experience. Entire worlds, lives, eons spun into existence over the course of a few hours rest, then dashed into nothingness with the ringing of an alarm clock. Leaving us blinking over our coffee wondering how a brain that can barely add fractions during daylight hours, could cook up such a tale for just one person. It is absolutely amazing. Which is why the idea of someone invading that space seems so foul. The ultimate violation. And that’s why I would like to end this month’s Werewolf Radar with a few words for This Man, himself.
This Man, if you are reading this, and I know you are you little Danny DeVito-looking, busted-ass Freddy Krueger wannabe. If you are reading this, the buck stops here. People’s dreams are private property get it? Invite only! And up until now the only people allowed into mine have been April O’Neil from Ninja Turtles, Lacey Chabert but with beaks instead of eyes for some reason, and occasionally Jean-Claude Van Damme (don’t judge me). But guess what? You just earned yourself a Golden Ticket, G. Consider this a cordial invitation to meet me inside my dreams exactly one month from now on top of that giant mountain made of lasagna, that is also kind of my apartment somehow, for the royalist of ass beatings. And you better come prepped wit yo Jon Lovitz-y, Mr. Bean lookin’ ass. Because I lied. Van Damme is in there a LOT! 80s Van Damme. Peak Van Damme.
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It’s a big, weird world. Don’t be scared. Be Prepared.