WASHINGTON—A shrieking, sweat-soaked Tom Vilsack reportedly woke in a panic Tuesday night after the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture had a horrifying nightmare that he was thrown into a shallow grave by a giant ear of corn and then buried alive.
Christie Vilsack confirmed that her husband had been tossing and turning in his sleep for 45 minutes until about 2:30 a.m., when he sat up in terror while throwing aside his sheets and screaming, "Dear God, don't kill me!" and "Keep your goddamn husks off of me."
The former Iowa governor was visibly exhausted in staff meetings the next morning as he recalled the harrowing details of the "strikingly realistic" recurring nightmare in which a 10-foot tall ear of corn maniacally shovels dirt on top of his body while Vilsack pleads for his life.
"I'm walking alone through this barren cornfield in the middle of the night, and it's completely silent," said Vilsack, speculating that perhaps the recent pressure he's been feeling about rising corn prices could have had something to do with the nightmare. "Then this massive form blocks the moonlight and I feel something rough and dry sliding across my skin. Then two powerful husks wrap around my arms and feet and lift me from the ground. Next thing I know, this gigantic ear of corn is dragging me across the empty field towards a perfectly round hole in the ground."
"I tried to ask why, to plead with it, but I couldn't speak because my teeth had turned to corn kernels and were falling from my gums," Vilsack added.
Tuesday's was only the most recent in a series of terrifying corn-based dreams suffered by the agriculture secretary since taking over the post in early 2009. According to Vilsack, he often dreams that he is delivering an important address to the nation on the importance of corn subsidies when he realizes that everyone in the audience is an ear of corn, and they are all laughing at him. In another common nightmare, Vilsack returns to his childhood home to find that the pond in his backyard is filled with rotting creamed corn, and his children—who are corn muffins—are drowning to death.
In another dream, Vilsack goes from eating to kissing an ear of corn named Derek.
"It all seemed so real—I still can feel the dirt on me and see every single kernel on the hulking ear of corn," Vilsack said of the previous night's dream. "And then it all switched and I was burying the corn and it was asking for help, saying I was making a mistake. The thing is, I didn't want to be burying the corn; I wanted to save the corn."
Vilsack, who, after waking, made several middle-of-the-night emergency phone calls inquiring about U.S. corn reserves, agonized over the meaning of the feverish dream. He told reporters he's narrowed it down to three possibilities: That the nation is running out of corn; that he must pay more attention to the needs of corn; or that a mighty maize empire will soon rise up and enslave humanity.
Last week, Vilsack began attending regular counseling sessions with psychologist Dr. Jacob Collins to discuss his subconscious issues with the edible grain.
"Mr. Vilsack has already shown a lot of progress, and has really opened up about his thoughts, fears, and feelings about corn," Collins said. "While each person's specific behavior and past experiences influence their dreams, in this particular case I believe the corn in Mr. Vilsack's dreams represents corn."
Despite the growing concerns of family, friends, and co-workers, Vilsack insists that he doesn't always have chilling nightmares about corn and sometimes has wonderful dreams where he feels completely free while flying through a sky filled with corn or making love to a sexy cob with the most plump and juicy kernels.