2285: Recurring Nightmare

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Recurring Nightmare
Oh thank goodness, I forgot my clothes, so now everyone's looking embarrassed and backing away.
Title text: Oh thank goodness, I forgot my clothes, so now everyone's looking embarrassed and backing away.


This comic is the eleventh comic in a row in a series of comics about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan states to Cueball that she keeps having the same nightmare. As she begins to explain that in her dream she shows up at school and panics as she realizes something, Cueball interrupts her to suggest she has turned up at school naked. But instead, Megan says that she finds herself in a crowded room at school.

It is an allegedly frequent dream-trope to be in a situation of otherwise polite company and discover oneself naked in the midst of the crowd. This can be added to something such as a general "forgotten to prepare for the exam you're sitting" to build upon various levels of worst-case scenario anxieties amongst your peers, parents or other persons who will judge you badly for your faux pas.

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Megan is obviously dreaming up her problem of being in a crowd (at school), as most schools have stopped holding in-person classes (at the time of this comic, most schools in many countries had switched to online instruction or have completely closed due to the pandemic).

Social distancing has been widely practiced around the world as a way to slow the spread of the disease. In the title text, Megan finds relief in dreaming that she's naked, as her nudity, perhaps similar to the actual real-life 'health tip' of eating excessive garlic, has the unintentional but beneficial effect of having crowd members back away from her personal space out of shock and/or mutual embarrassment. This may somewhat mitigate the viral transmission by droplets from coughs, although to be more protected, Megan should dream that she is at least wearing a face mask, or that she is going to thoroughly wash her hands as soon as possible, in case she has touched any contaminated surfaces.

Nightmares about school were also the topic of 557: Students, specifically stating that people have dreams about school, even when already having graduated.


[Megan, standing next to Cueball, is gesturing with her arms wide.]
Megan: I keep having nightmares that I show up at school, and then suddenly panic as I realize–
Cueball: –that you're naked?
Megan: That I'm in a crowded room!

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Could it just be that Megan is anthrophobic? 16:22, 25 March 2020 (UTC)

She's friendly (and socially proximate) enough with Cueball. That said, I know first hand how one can be asocial in general (in the verging on mildly enochlophobic sense) and still somehow tolerate acquaintances acquired in familial or vocational settings. (I'm pretty sure it's the obvious current mass nosophobic tendency being referenced, myself. If not, it's a far more complicated joke than it needs to be.) 19:26, 25 March 2020 (UTC)
To misquote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, no, that's just the normal paranoia we all have- a couple of million years of strangers killing everybody in the tribe, leaves the survivors with a deep set instinct identifying and running away from .... strangers User:Seeberboringert (talk) 21:16, 25 March 2020 (UTC)

This is an instructive video Why the US already practiced social distancing before coronavirus Seebert (talk) 21:16, 25 March 2020 (UTC)

"Revise" seems to be British for "study." So if u 4got to revise /study, and show up in class with without a pencil and naked just tell the people that u r dreaming and as soon as the dream gets interesting you will wake up, because your dreams are boring. 21:50, 25 March 2020 (UTC)

I think you'll find the word in the comment is "REALIZE"Seebert (talk) 21:53, 25 March 2020 (UTC)
I'm sure I won't. Qwotegeneral "forgotten to revise for the exam"endqwote is from the explain.

Please be aware that "revise" means "edit, generally to make the text conform to a belief" to me, while to a Britisher it means what "do homework" or "study" means to me.

Revise does not mean this in British, or as we say in the UK, Proper English. Revise means to review/amend/take another look

at. Kev (talk) 18:17, 26 March 2020 (UTC)

Revise can have both meanings in Australian English, and I think the same is true for British English. "I forgot to revise for my test" means a very similar thing to "I forgot to study for my test". However, "revise" has the additional implication that you have already studied the material, you are just consolidating it more in your mind and catching all the bits that you missed ZerGreenOne (talk) 02:45, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
I'm British and fairly ancient and while "study" and "revise" are similar in meaning (where they overlap, i.e. aside from the respective examine/rewrite senses and other non-synonymical aspects) I would study something I did not already know but revise something I should already know and now need to make sure I haven't forgotten (probably morphed before my time from the original "review(s)", as semi-soundalike). To me, "studying for a test" is either very last minute preparation (not having attended the classes all year, now cramming from someone else's notes or textbooks) or something I'd have heard said in an imported US school-based comedy/drama. Happy Days? 17:47, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
These comments about "revise" make absolutely NO sense!! 11:23, 26 March 2020 (UTC)
You can use the view history button on top of the page to find that where it currently says "This can be added to something such as a general "forgotten to prepare for the exam you're sitting" to build upon various[...]" it did say "revise" instead of "prepare" in an earlier revision --Lupo (talk) 11:35, 26 March 2020 (UTC)

Is it worth mentioning in the list of (non-nudity) precautions that wearing a facemask isn't actually a very good protective measure. Masks (especially everyday/ad-hoc types such as could have been seen worn by people outdoors in those in those halcyon days when anybody did still go outdoors) are practically useless in protecting the wearer from others. They'd still touch surfaces infected by non-wearers and then easily transfer the infection the next time they adjust/remove it or otherwise touch other vulnerable bits of their face. They can wash their hands before removing it, in their home 'airlock', but if the mask is breath-moistened it could still be holding the virus and retransfer onto the clean hands again. OTOH, if someone is infected then their mask does more to safeguard others. 17:24, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

In my opinion, since masks aren't even mentioned in the comic, adding this would stray too far from the objective of explaining the comic. Bischoff (talk) 19:31, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

Speaking of adding things that go astray from the topic, I have a recurring nightmare that our dear author is actually as autistic as I am and coronavirus has broken his brain to the point that he cannot think of any jokes on any other topic.Seebert (talk) 20:28, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

Seems to me contributors here have a worse obsession with the pandemic than Randall, since I've had no traction in pointing out that 2278: Scientific Briefing isn't about COVID-19. --Pi one (talk) 22:06, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
2283: Exa-Exabyte is a better example for being doubtful, as it was well into the pandemic quarantine by that time. Your example *could* be more about Trump's reaction to the current situation than the situation itself, but it still requires the situation to make sense.
The same comic could have appeared at any time and would have worked perfectly well. --Pi one (talk) 19:06, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
it is about 'why should I care about the future?' and is a sarcastic comment about how world leaders have reacted to covid/SARS2.
It is a sarcastic comment on a general behavior whose most prominent recent example is the bungled handling of COVID-19. It avoids restricting itself to that one case. --Pi one (talk) 13:09, 28 March 2020 (UTC)