I have a recurring nightmare that does not involve getting a colonoscopy.  If it did, it would make much more sense.  Instead, my nightmare is a very basic, very unsurprising anxiety dream.  So mundane, in fact, that I hesitate to call it a nightmare.  It doesn’t wake me up, it doesn’t leave me unsettled.  It’s a sort of background hum.  But I’ve been having the dream, once or twice a week, since 1988.

In the dream, I get lost and miss a class at either my old high school or at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.  I find myself wandering around empty halls of either a very recognizable section of my high school or a more generic building at UMD.  Nothing but long halls and nameless doorways, backpack over my shoulder, schedule of classes in my hand.  The schedule is no help. 

Every once in a while, the dream becomes a bit more complicated.  The hallways become a warren of underground twists and turns, everything looking the same.  The missed class is specified – usually a science lab, but sometimes a history class.  For a few years in the late 90’s, the dream carried on through to a conclusion:  I found the class and walked in late, much to the displeasure of the instructor (never anyone recognizable, but usually a woman). 

My dream self is not young.  I’m always my present age, wearing familiar clothes.  Though, in the dream, I’m not bothered about being a 33 year old high school student or confused college freshman.  It’s the ageless quality that I find the most interesting about these dreams.  I think it would be normal to, at least, feel like a kid again.  That’s where the real anxiety comes in – I’m my age now, knowing what I know, and I still can’t find a classroom on the first day of school.  Nor is there anyone around to help me. 

Of course, I suppose it’s pretty clear to break all this down and explain the dream.  I feel lost in life?  I don’t know…stuff like that.  Good enough if I started having the dream recently, but recurring for 20 years seems to indicate something more worrisome.

At least – and thank god for this – I’m consistent.  Okay, my sub-conscious feels lost.  But, apparently, this has always been the case.  It’s a good thing knowing where you’re coming from.  But, then, finding satisfaction at knowing that I’m lost doesn’t dispel the dream.  I have the deeper fear that my sub-conscious is not creative or interesting.  Even in the realm of fantasy, my mind has been burned out and utterly bored for 20 years.  It’s stuck on a high school fear dream and just throws that out occasionally to let me know that everything is working right.  In which case, I greatly appreciate that the dream isn’t of the forgot to wear pants variety.  I’m anxious enough about that in my regular life ever since I actually did strike out for the bus stop without pants in 97.  That’s another story, and it involves tequila and making out with a Collie in a stranger’s backyard. 

I did not have intercourse with the dog.  It was merely kissing and cuddling.  After many shots of tequila, I just wanted a shoulder to cry on.  Dogs are good listeners, too.  They do that thing where they really seem like they’re trying to figure out what you’re saying, which is more than I can say for half the women I’ve dated.

I don’t label myself a “dog person,” though.  As a rule, I think all animals are a waste of time.  Having a pet is like permanently having a child around.  Except pets are slightly more interesting.  Anything that can’t take care of itself unless it’s surviving off of your corpse is pretty useless.  I want to be able to leave the country for a month and not have to worry about anything.  Watering plants, I suppose, but that’s pretty basic. 

Pets certainly get in the way of dating.  Meet some chick after work for dinner and the only thing on her mind is, oh my god, have to rush home to let the dog out.  Sleep over at her place and her cats act like you’re a Soviet tank rolling around Indiana in 1980.  Not to mention the smell.  Dogs are okay, but the omnipresent kitty litter smell of apartment cats is something that really sends me for a loop. 

Then there’s the staring shit that animals do while you’re fucking their mistress.  A common gag in comedies, though hardly funny when you’re the subject of the stare.  Sometimes the stare inspires guilt because I have issues with women but, every once in a while, I’m deeply concerned that the stare is a bit more hopeful.  Like they want an invitation to take a turn.  Flip her over, Nacho, then we can tag team that bitch.  She’ll never figure it out till you cross to the other side of the room and scream:  “Dog!”

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