Thursday, Nov. 06, 2003, 1:34 AM

Zaphod was right, the trick is to fall really hard and miss the ground.

I have really fantastic and strange dreams. They are always so entertaining. It is wonderful to be me when I am sleeping.

I often dream that I am flying. Flying in dreams for me has evolved. It started as lifting one leg, then the other, and kind of swimming through the air. It was almost as if the air provided a buoyant cushion upon which I could float. In those first flying dreams I could never get higher than a few feet off of the ground. If I encountered something like a vehicle or a house I would simple rise above it, always maintaining the same buffer zone of about six to ten feet. I was not easy or fast or efficient for me to fly in those dreams. It was always with great effort that I pulled myself through the air. It was very much like swimming except that as soon as I stopped stroking I stopped moving. Don't get me wrong, it was always exhilarating flying like that, just not the kind of swooshing swooping sort of flying performed by the likes of Superman or the Greatest American Hero.

In other dreams I would bounce or jump as though the gravity was analogous to that of the moon. Something would always happen to begin the realization of controlled gravitational effect. I might get hit by a car and fly backward slowly before hitting the ground with minimal impact. Sometimes I would jump to catch an impossibly high ball and would manage to launch myself skyward many times the height of my own body. And then the descents were always controlled and floating, and if I really concentrated I could momentarily cease falling and hang suspended in the air like a dust particle before slipping once more toward the earth.

And then I really learned to fly in my dreams.

It was about seven years ago now. I was in my waking life working as a temp downtown and living in a one-room efficiency apartment with a walk-through closet. Really. You had to walk through the closet to get to the bathroom. Anyway, as you can imagine money was really tight for me back then. Those were the days that I had to budget for a haircut and actually sold my comic books and blood to help pay for the taxes when the temp service screwed up the deductions on my paychecks and I wound up owing at the end of the year. I was also dating an artist who was 19 years my senior.

So, in the dream, the artist and I were running for our lives, of course. I'm not sure from what but I know that it involved money and the threat of broken limbs. We ran into an apartment building when we found the side entrance door ajar. The door led to the stairwell and the only option for escape was to go up, apparently to the roof. We climbed the stairs two at a time, grasping the handrail and swinging ourselves around the bend at every landing. And then, unlike most dreams where you begin to slow down and feel as though you are walking through water, everything began to speed up. It was almost as if the stairs were flowing down hill and it was difficult to keep my feet under me. The bad guys were gaining ground and the artist was a full landing ahead, appearing as only a fleeting glimpse at every landing. And then I tripped.

I was travelling so fast that I pitched forward and braced for the fall that never came. In some ways it was similar to the floating-flying dreams but I had momentum. The inertia of my upward progress carried over into my floating and I was kind of skimming up the stairs. So I thought about going faster and flying up the stairs, and I did. Faster and faster, banking at the curves as though I was travelling on some road. I grabbed the artist by the arm as I flew past and she instantly acquired flight from my touch. Up and up we traveled until we burst forth from the door on the roof and sailed into the sky.

The bad guys came lumbering along after some time, holding their sides and panting, before drawing their weapons and firing into the air at our quickly receding forms. And the artist and I climbed into the sky ever higher flying in loops and spinning and corkscrewing and swooping. The sheer exhilaration of swooping and pulling out of the dive, the wind whipping at my hair and clothes and the centrifugal force pulling at my body was unlike anything that I had ever experienced, and was altogether fantastic. The two of us performed an intricate ballet in the sky and stopped to make love on a passing cloud that supported our weight like a feather mattress. Then a volcano erupted somewhere nearby sending black smoke and fiery stones into the air. The white landscape of clouds turned dark and angry with lightning punctuating the sky. It was obviously time to return to terra firma.

We flew along until we saw the river Seine stretched out below us. Running along the shores in both directions were parks with acres of green grass suitable for a landing. We came in low and slid to a halt staining my khakis the color of grass. After we stood up and gathered ourselves I noticed a group of people approaching us from a shadowy grove of trees along the river. As the group came into view I was surprised to see that it was composed of three women. Three beautiful women wearing only underwear. The girl in the lead, who I could swear was Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, approached me with a gun in her hand pointed at me. She, as well as her two cohorts, were wearing Victoria's Secret cotton panties. Nothing special, no thong or g-string, just plain bikini-cut cotton panties. I remember that Rebecca was wearing pink and that the other two were wearing powder blue.

So Rebecca approaches me while brandishing her gun in a menacing fashion and says, "Welcome to our fair city. We hope that you enjoy your stay. Please empty your pockets and give us all of your money."

I laughed. I couldn't help myself. You see, as in real life when faced with such an absurd situation I was struck with a bout of absolute lucid thoughts. She asked what I thought was funny about this and I replied that I was a recent poor college grad with a writing degree and that she would be hard-pressed to find a person worse than me to rob. And besides that, she had no pockets to put any of my money, provided that I had any.

She took my wallet with a look of disgust. After confirming that it contained exactly one worn dollar she said, "Fine, then I'm taking this and your bus pass," and threw the wallet at my feet. I was mortified. She could not have found a worse item to take than my bus pass. That sucker was forty dollar a month and was the only means of transportation I had to and from work. It was cruel. It was cold. It was the most vile thing that any person could have done to me. I was robbed by viscous, unfeeling, cold-hearted, beautiful supermodels wearing only their panties and it had cut me to the bone.

It was a disappointing ending to the dream where I learned how to fly properly. Ever after I have been able to and have on many occasions flown free like a bird in my dreams.

And there is very little in real life that can compare to pulling out of a dive at high speed while the wind attempts to tear the clothes from my body.