James Lileks
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The other day around 5 a.m., I boarded an airplane without a ticket, because I was wearing a pilot's uniform and had been told this was the best way to get to London for free. To be honest, I was nervous. This didn't seem right. And then my teeth fell out!

Well, no. Let me explain. This was a dream. I'm sure it meant something — feeling like an impostor, fear of discovery, unease at breaking the rules. I also had forgotten to pack, which led to me telling the entire first-class compartment, all of whom were dressed as pilots, "It's OK, I'll buy my shorts at Marks and Sparks." I woke with that phrase in my brain,

I mention this because I got a marketing email that asked if I'd like to know the top 10 nightmares. Yes and no. There was a Google doc attached, and one of my top three nightmares is being the moron who clicks on something in an email, and two months later StarTribune.com is taken over by a Bulgarian toe-fungus remedy seller and all our data is sold on the dark web.

Well, maybe not the dark web. The tasteful gray web, perhaps. Some web that has the hue of a Banana Republic sweater.

The point is, I didn't click. But I was curious, and googled the topic. The most recent survey of the world's nightmares boils them down to two categories: snakes and teeth falling out. Serpent stories are mostly a problem for dreamers in the Southern Hemisphere; the Anglosphere and the Nordic countries have nocturnal dentition despair.

I was surprised that neither fear involved public speaking, or school. Cave men probably woke up in a sweat, and said, "Ogg show up for class, has test, no prepare."

I've never had a tooth dream. Never had a snake dream. Never woke with a scream because I had a mouth full of loose molars and an anaconda in a white smock said, "You're going to feel a little sensation now" and it sprouted dental picks like porcupine quills.

The only recurring nightmare is getting trapped in diminishingly small places — you know, you enter the Mall of America and somehow end up headfirst in a narrow duct, and then someone pulls you out, slaps you on the rear, cuts a rope you're carrying in one hand, and opens up a college fund. I don't know what that symbolizes.

You're wondering: What's the IMA, or Inevitable Minnesota Angle, in this story? Well, there's a state-by-state breakdown of top nightmares. In Wisconsin, it's "being chased." (You want to know if there are flashing blue-and-red lights involved.) In Iowa, it's tornadoes, which is sensible. Maybe they're strong enough to pull out teeth.

The Minnesota response is really on brand: "Missing important events." The only state where people bolt upright panting at 3:37 a.m. because they dreamed they forgot to vote.

But another survey of state-by-state dreams has a different nightmare for Minnesotans: Sudden loss of eyelashes. Because they froze and snapped off? I don't know. But it suggests there's an eyelash-tooth connection that medical science hasn't explored.

Next time you feel a wobbly canine or incisor, grab your eyelashes, give them a tug, and see if that doesn't reseat the tooth.