• Thu, Aug 25 2011

Celebrity Sex Dreams: Cliff Huxtable Is Down with Masturbation

I’ve never had a sex dream about a celebrity. (I’m not sure I have ever had a “sex dream” at all, in fact. I’ve had dreams with lots of foreplay, but something generally interrupts before any actual sex takes place. Someone reminds me about something I need to do. Or the woman just suddenly disappears. Or the Nazis show up.) But for about a year between the ages of 13 and 14, I had a recurrent dream of a sexual nature involving a celebrity. In the dream, I am lying on my bed, pleasuring myself, when the door swings open and standing there is Cliff Huxtable. Not Bill Cosby, mind you, though clearly it is, but in the dream I absolutely know that the man standing there is Cliff Huxtable — and he’s my dad. There I am, mid-stroke, looking up at him in shock, but not quite able to stop what I am doing. And instead of reacting as my real father would, with an embarrassed gasp and an awkward retreat, Cliff just said, “Carry on, son,” and shut the door. And I would. Carry on.

Years later, a therapist reminded me that Cliff Huxtable was an obstetrician on the show, and suggested that the dream expressed an adolescent fear of getting a woman pregnant. That therapist was stupid: I was 13. I wasn’t afraid of getting a woman pregnant; if anything I was worried that I might never get a chance to touch a woman. But remembering the weird lack of shame I felt – beyond the obvious embarrassment of having to somehow sneak my sheets into the laundry without my mother seeing – I knew that the dream was really just an unconscious reaction to the horribly executed sex talk my dad tried to give me one day while we were walking to synagogue. I was processing the shame of that conversation using a stand-in dad, the father figure from the only show my parents and I watched together regularly. Cliff Huxtable, I assumed, would have known how to tell me those things in ways that didn’t make me want to run screaming into the sedate suburban traffic.

My dad, it turned out, was much cooler than Bill Cosby, and the dream must have stopped at some point after we had a second, much less traumatizing conversation. Also I came to realize somewhere along the line that the me who was jerking off in the dream must have been Theo. Even back then, I knew that was a mistake.

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