HULK SMASH, or, My Green Sleepless Nights

Island Packet – The earliest dream I can remember — and possibly my earliest memory of any kind — involves the Incredible Hulk.

As you might guess, there’s no way this story ends happily. Since I was 4 years old at the time, it’s not like I’m gonna follow that sentence up with “And in it, the Hulk brought me Kool-Aid and Atari Pitfall,” or “The Hulk helped evacuate a zoo full of big-eyed, thoughtful wallabies” or “The Hulk made the kids at school stop making fun of me for having absurdly large ears at the age of 4,” which no, I’m not over yet, jerks. No, this dream was dark and scary, although I’m happy to report that it’s pretty much stopped. (These days, nearly all my dreams just have clowns in them.)


Because the Incredible Hulk is horrifying, and there’s no getting around this. He’s an average schmoe who, at intervals he cannot control, watches his body spot-evolve into that of a behemoth guacamole-colored devil monster and starts demolishing restaurants, cars, people, cats and, one can only surmise, 4-year-old boys with big ears who are easily startled by guacamole-colored devil monsters.

(Don’t judge me: People have irrational fears of all sorts of things: squirrels, lightning, illegal immigrants. My mom is terrified of bananas; the guy who sits next to me lathers his hands with Purel like every 20 seconds, and one of my college roommates had an unironic fear of ketchup, which we joyfully exploited every Hot Dog Night.)

Sure, you could argue that the Hulk is at heart a good guy, but such subtleties are lost on the average toddler, especially one who’s watching the program through his fingers from a secure location behind the couch. But even that general argument does not work, because throughout the history of literature, from the ancient Sumerians to the guy who wrote the Bible to Shakespeare to Mitch Albom, the giant green man is ALWAYS BAD, with the possible exception of the Jolly Green Giant, but I’ve never trusted that guy. No one likes peas that much.

Anyway, the dream. In the dream, I am standing in a parched, baking desert. I’m not alone — there are crowds surrounding me in a semi-circle — and there’s a guy, a very agitated, stringy-haired guy, who is staring at me as though lasers are about to burst out of his eyes, and he goes, “The Incredible Hulk!” before gasping and pointing (the dialogue in my dream is bad, but give me a break, I’m 4).

So I look across this parched wasteland, and on the far side, many miles across dead terrain, there sits Space Mountain, shining like a beacon of safety, I guess. So I run. I run to Space Mountain with all I’ve got, and sometime during the running I look behind me and there’s the Hulk, either running or leaping at me and screaming like hell. It’s at this point I would generally wake up; I’ll leave it to the reader to theorize about the dampness factor of my “Return of the Jedi” sheets at this point.

I bring this up because of the new “Incredible Hulk” movie opening today. You might remember they tried the “Hulk” movie once, in 2003, but that one doesn’t really count, because it was directed by Ang Lee so it was all thoughtful and talky, and plus the CGI Hulk in it appeared less like a fierce beast and more like a lime-green Peep suffering from scorching intestinal discomfort. Also it turns out the Hulk was all mad because he missed his Dad or something.

So no, I will not be seeing this new “Incredible Hulk” movie. Not because of the dream, but because trying again seems like cheating. Also, I heard it has clowns in it.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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