The Secret Shame of the Pickle Barrel Dream


When I was about eight years old, I awoke from a dream like I’d never had before. I felt dirty and guilty. Very guilty. I tried to forget this dream ever happened. I wondered for years what could be wrong with me for even having these thoughts! I must be sick! A pervert! A one track mind! I’m only eight!! C’mon brain! Think about Barbie dream houses and Barbie Winnebagos!  Think about your “Madame Alexander Dolls From Around the World” dressed in traditional costumes doll collection! Think about anything but the PICKLE BARREL DREAM!!

I held this dream deep inside me for another eighteen years. And like a secret weapon; like a shank fashioned from a plastic fork Martha Stewart may have hidden in her underpants; like an Oscar acceptance speech that miraculously appears out of Meryl Streep’s cleavage; the story came out into the light.

The scene was a dumpy kitchen in a dumpy house in New Brunswick New Jersey. An after party of an after party. The bar had closed. My friends and I still wanted to drink. We were young and fabulous and even cooler than we thought. We wandered down Louis Street to somebody’s house. Lots of familiar faces. It was such a great time in life. You remember those days? I certainly hope you had them too.

We were talking about movies and books and bands and the conversation went towards shows we loved when were growing up in the mid 1970’s. And in the din of youthful chatter and raucous laughter, I made the following announcement:

“I once had a sex dream about Larry Storch from F troop.”

The room got quiet for 5 seconds while that sentence sunk in. The guy I had my eye on for a few weeks, that I thought was totally out of my league, stopped talking and turned his whole body towards me.

“You what?” he asked.

It was GO time. Time for this story to make its debut from my subconscious. As my friend Copper says “Own your freaky self!”

With a beer in my hand, I begin to recount this dream to this kitchen full of people…

I was a little girl in a saloon like setting. It was also a butcher shop/deli/fish market. My mother and grandmother were there talking to the man behind the counter when something caught my eye. I wandered away a few yards to this man sitting in the corner next to a pickle barrel. With pickles in it. Of course. He was dirty and hairy and had a ripped white t-shirt on. His hair was a mess. He was scruffy. This man looked exactly like Larry Storch. Agarn from F Troop. He smiled at me and I smiled back. Wordlessly, I put my hand on his arm and stuck my finger into a hole in his white t-shirt. He offered me a pickle from his pickle barrel and suddenly I felt a hand grab me. It was my mother. She was furious! She pulled me away from him right away and Larry Storch started to laugh. That made my mother even more furious. My grandmother left all her meat wrapped in butcher paper in the store and we all left the saloon butcher/deli/fish market. In the next scene in the dream, I’m in my grandmother’s kitchen. My mother is standing, arms folded, and very upset. I’m spinning on her high-backed light blue vinyl kitchen chairs. Around and around while they discuss what to do with me. They are explaining to me about how it’s not right to touch a strange man. And also never to take a pickle from a man I don’t know. I didn’t understand why.

Even stronger than the details of the dream are the feelings I woke up with. The feelings of being bad. I had a hard time looking at Larry Storch the same way again. No one could find out about this dream. It was a secret I carried with me for many years. Until this after party of an after party.

The room erupted in laughter. It was cathartic. It was weird. It was slightly embarrassing.

“That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“What the hell?? That’s hysterical! Do you have any other dreams you want to tell us??!! HAHAHAH!”

I became “the girl who told the Larry Storch dream story at that after party.” What a claim to fame?! I loved it.

Sometimes the stories we hide the most are exactly the stories we should share first. Full disclosure. Around a pickle barrel.

P.S. That guy in the story who I thought was out of my league? He wasn’t 😉


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