Dream Interpreter: Fleeing from mayonnaise-eating zombies

The Journal's dream interpreter analyzes a dream about changing relationships

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I’m Meryl Sleep, Queen’s resident dream interpreter. I analyze dreams in an effort to decode the symbols in each Queen’s student’s subconscious. Today’s dream involves mayonnaise, a fancy boarding school, and the zombie apocalypse.

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This is a dream I had years ago, but it still sticks with me today, probably because of how insane it is.

In the dream, I’m having a sleepover with two of my closest friends. We’re all sitting up in my parents’ bed and as we talk, my friends randomly bring out a jar of mayonnaise. They start to eat it and—here’s the crazy part—it turns them into zombies! They try to get me to eat it, but I refuse and run away.

All of a sudden, I’m no longer at my parent’s house. Instead, I’m running through a forest and a whole horde of zombies is behind me.

I manage to get away, but now it’s autumn and I’m at a fancy boarding school. For some reason, I know that the zombie apocalypse has ended. That’s when I get a call from my Italian grandma. I can tell over the phone that she’s now a zombie too—I guess the apocalypse has not ended and my grandma will bring the world to ruin.

She definitely does not eat mayonnaise, so I’m not sure how that happened.

Dear Dreamer,

The parts of dreams we remember are simply the final images we saw before waking up, as we become more aware of the imagery in the process of regaining consciousness. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.

It’s not surprising this dream has stuck with you for so long. Similar to the retention of actual memories, certain dreams remain in our memory longer than others. It’s more likely you’ll remember a particularly emotional or negative dream than a boring one, offering an explanation as to why nightmares often leave a lasting impact on our brains.

In this case, the dream sets elements of high emotional impact—family members and friends—within the fear-inducing environment of a zombie apocalypse, effectively meeting the two main requirements for an exceptionally memorable dream. Consider other dreams you still remember from years ago: did they incite a particularly emotional response at the time?

A few major symbols were present within your dream, including zombies, family and friends, and the change of setting.

To begin, this dream took place within a bizarre zombie apocalypse setting. Specifically, you were a witness to how mayonnaise consumption transformed your friends into zombies—and they pressured you to join them in their new state. After you refused, they were joined by a larger group of zombies.

While mayonnaise seems like a pointed symbol, it’s likely just the representation of greater society within the dream. Your friends eating the mayonnaise suggests the impact of external influences on identity, as the act of consuming it turned them into something completely different. Their insistence on you joining them points to the common presence of peer pressure in friendships during young adulthood.

Next, this dream was rife with appearances from family and friends. The contents of dreams are usually specific to the time at which they occurred, so the representation of your loved ones was likely a meditation on the context of your relationships at the time.

Your friends and your grandmother all turned into zombies, and your confusion about their transformation and repulsion at the idea of joining them suggests these changes were rapid, negative, and without direct cause. You also believed your grandmother would ruin the world, indicating that you perceived these changes to have serious consequences on your life as you knew it.

The progression of action also took you from your parents’ bedroom to a forest and, later, a boarding school. You began in a place of familiarity and comfort, progressing toward more unfamiliar locations as the terror of the zombie apocalypse unfolds. As you realized the permanence of the changes, you became more removed from your home.

In analyzing the possible meaning of this dream, it’s important to reflect on the circumstances of your life at the time you had it. Altogether, it features a significant amount of change—people turning into zombies and a constantly-evolving setting.

Think back: were you in a period of transition within some relationships? Perhaps you felt like other people were changing in a certain regard, while you were headed in a different direction. Remember, it’s normal to outgrow friends as you get older and relationships evolve.

Sweet dreams!

Meryl Sleep

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