By Daniel Kohn
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Like the rest of us, you are most likely media-saturated and quick to judge. Therefore, when you hear there's a woman in Orange County who has recurring dreams about Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus—refers to him as her "boyfriend," searches the Web for intimate details of his life, knows the names of his dog and his girlfriend, and has discovered his birth date—you probably assume she's either 14, fat or lonely. You probably assume she's one of those freaks on MTV's FANatic. You probably assume she's a stalker.
The weird thing is she's not. Sasha Norton—that's not her real name—is 29, bright and pretty. She has a washboard stomach, a lot of friends, an adorable cat, and a boyfriend of five years. She's financially successful and starting her own business. She speaks two languages. She knows how to laugh. You'd like her if you met her. She's a regular person, like you and me. She's normal. Hypernormal.
Except that she's been obsessed with Hoppus ever since she started—for reasons she doesn't understand—dreaming about him.
Her first dream was remarkably like the song "Dammit (Growing Up)" from the San Diego trio's 1997 album Dude Ranch, the one with these lyrics: "And maybe/I'll see you/At a movie/Sneak preview/ You'll show up/And walk by/On the arm/Of that guy/And I'll smile/And you'll wave/We'll pretend/It's okay."
The dream begins with Hoppus telling her to meet him at the movie theater and with Norton telling her boyfriend that she's going to the movies. "My boyfriend gets paranoid and asks me what movie and who I'm going with. I say, 'Just my friends. I'm just going with my girlfriends.' He says, 'I'm going with you.'
"So, obviously, I show up at the sneak preview on the arm of that guy," she says. Hoppus looks at her, and she can tell he's disappointed that she brought her boyfriend. At the same time, she's trying to hide this situation from her boyfriend so he doesn't suspect what's going on. Someone tells her to go to her car, where there's a note waiting for her. "I open it in the movie theater. And as I open it, I see that it's a big flower heart—like real flowers—and, basically, Mark's very upset with me."
Norton woke up feeling weird because she'd never thought of Hoppus in that way before. "I was actually swept off my feet by this guy who I never saw in a sexual or any other sort of way. After that dream, for some reason, I was just gaga for him," she says. In the dream, Norton says she was "feeling flattered, but at the same time I was feeling like I was betraying my boyfriend, so I kept questioning my own feelings and emotions."
"The second dream was very weird," Norton says, her eyes getting wider. Norton is at a wedding reception—which might be her own, but she doesn't know why she's there. The guests know why they're there, however, and they know her. "I have no wedding dress on, and I'm completely lost in the middle of the dance floor, like searching for somebody, and Mark Hoppus walks by and asks me to dance." She gets nervous and runs away but returns to find Hoppus dancing with another girl. Then she dances with Hoppus, but he has to leave suddenly. He tells her to meet him at "the Dune." "But for some reason, I couldn't hear him, so he left, and the next thing I know, I'm in my car pulling up to valet parking and watching him drive away, and I'm lost again."
Norton begins asking everyone if they know where Hoppus is, and her roommate tells her she's supposed to meet Hoppus at "the Dome." "So then I find myself in Texas, looking for him at the Houston Astrodome, where I run into a lot of dead people I know personally, but they won't talk to me."
Then Norton's at some kind of fund-raiser, and she runs into Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, who shares a first name with one of her real-life ex-boyfriends. She asks Travis, "What are you doing here?" Travis doesn't answer but instead tells her to meet Hoppus at the Newport Dunes. When she gets there, she's told she just missed him.
When Norton first told you about the dream, months ago, she mentioned something about Hoppus asking her to come away with him. You remind her of this. She gets incredibly animated.
"Yes!" she yelps, jumping up and down. "Oh, good memory! That was on the dance floor. When we were dancing, he said to me, 'Come away with me; come on tour with me. I will take care of you.' And I said, 'I can't, I can't. I have a place to pay rent and a cat.' He said, 'I'll pay your rent; bring your cat. It's okay, I just want to take care of you for the rest of your life.' And that's when I just went, 'Oh, my God. . . .'"
Norton sighs happily. She's gazing absently at some bit of nothing in the air in front of her.
"That dream was great," she says slowly. "It was every woman's dream. Very, very flattering, very white-knight-in-shining-armor-on-the-horse-asking-you-to-come-away. Your hero. Your savior. Superman. I mean, not that women want to be rescued, but when you are, and you think of, like, that hero guy, it's amazing—amazing, but at the same time, I was very lost."
You ask if she means emotionally lost. "I think just lost in terms of where I am in my life. Everywhere I went, I was kind of lost, even when I was supposed to be. I kept looking around, lost, looking for somebody. At the Dome, I was lost because they gave me the wrong directions. At the Dunes—well, I was supposed to be there, but when I got there, Mark was gone, so I'd lost him."
The third—and last—Hoppus dream took place "in some weird apartment," Norton recalls. Hoppus came into her room and got in bed with her as if he were her boyfriend. "We were just sleeping, not doing anything sexual," she explains. Then her brother and sister-in-law walk into the room. She introduces them to Hoppus, but she introduces him by his full name—Mark Allan Hoppus—and at this point realizes that his initials are the same as her first serious boyfriend's.
"I don't know if that has anything to do with it," she says quickly.
Her brother and sister-in-law give her "a weird look like, 'Wait a minute, you already have a boyfriend.' And I'm like, 'I do? Yeah, he's right here.' Her brother and sister-in-law are confused because they know Hoppus isn't her boyfriend, but they go along with it and introduce themselves to him anyway.
In this dream, Norton felt "comfortable, very comfortable, like it was right. It felt right; it felt good. I had no worries because here's this guy who's taking care of me. But at the same time, once I was reminded that he's not supposed to be with me, then I was confused again."
"You know what's weird?" Norton asks suddenly. "[Blink-182 singer/ guitarist] Tom [DeLonge] has never been in my dreams."
It's instructive to note here that Norton's current boyfriend—who, like the dream men, plays in a rock band—has a name that is identical to Tom's with the exception of one letter. Perhaps—and this is only a theory—Tom was never in her dreams because if he were, she would have realized what it was she was subconsciously trying to work out. For dreams to serve their function—which Freud said is not only to work out subconscious material but also to keep you asleep—the subconscious material must be translated into some dream language that you don't readily understand. If you understand it, you wake up. If you know who represents what, it's no longer subconscious but conscious, and it won't serve to keep you asleep. To this end, the dreams stopped when Norton realized, in the dream, that Hoppus perhaps represented an ex-boyfriend with whom she had had a troubled relationship.
But she still thinks about that weird period of time when she had the dreams. "There were times when I'd wonder why I was having dreams about this guy that I'd never noticed before. I never thought there was anything special about him. Why—out of all the people in the world, all the celebrities, all the famous people you see on TV every day—why him? I just didn't understand why, and I still don't. I honestly couldn't tell you."
Norton gets that faraway look in her eyes again. "I must say that, to this day, I still want to know: Why him?"