I had a weird dream last night. I had been asked to speak a few words at the memorial service of a man who had been guarding my class. That’s right. Guarding it. I didn’t know what the danger was, but he’d been called in to sit in the back row of one of my classes, he and two henchmen, all three uniformed. Whatever the danger was, it was great. And I accepted both the presence of the unidentified danger, and the necessity of the guards as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
A couple of colleagues went up in front of me, the final one a tall thin man who works in our writing center. He stood speechless, his face drained, till someone prodded me and I went up to relieve him of his stage fright. There was scattered applause. The venue was terrible, a podium in the center of a room, so I had people behind me, and people in front and to the sides. I couldn’t address any part of the room without ignoring another part.
I launched into a eulogy on the dedication and reliability of the man who had guarded my students. Before I’d walked to the podium, I’d tried to take some notes on a napkin, and had come of up with a couple of phrases I had thought would do, but the ink wouldn’t stay clear on the napkin, so I had given up. When I spoke, the phrases I’d been trying to remember skittered out of my mind.
“When Mike joined the class to keep us safe,” I said, “he proved his dedication to our students and to this campus by being always diplomatic, dedicated and discrete.” It was a horrible line. I knew it. It didn’t mean anything.
I went on to speak about the day I arrived in class to find him not there. He was always there before me, sitting in his appointed seat, being discrete, no doubt. I spoke of the students’ growing concern as he didn’t show up, especially since he had been appointed to give a career talk about what it meant to be a bodyguard in a college classroom. After class, I said, I had immediately called the dean because it was clear that a bodyguard of Mike’s quality would never simply not come to work. Eventually, he had been found, or rather, his body had been found.
At about that moment, I began waking up, and in the suspended weird space between waking and sleeping I remembered that I had been dreaming this dream in sequels for several nights in a row. I had dreamed the event that had required us to call in a bodyguard in the first place. I had dreamed Mike’s appearance and his “discrete, diplomatic, dedicated” service. I had dreamed his disappearance and my anxiety about it. I had dreamed the week in which he was gone, and the weekend in which clues were added together to reveal the location of his body. And now I was dreaming his eulogy. All the previous dreams and the current one rose up in clarity and detail, as clear as the just-passed weekend. And then I woke up, and I was left only with the sketchy details of the current dream, and with the knowledge that for the past few nights I’ve been dreaming of Mike’s installation in my classroom and untimely demise. Weird. Like watching a favorite show on television, each night being left with a cliffhanger to bring you back to the following night’s edition. But in my waking hours, I’d had no memory of any of the dreams. Maybe it’s my mind’s attempt to hint that I really ought to be watching television like just about everyone else in my universe!
What intrigued me the most about the dream was my absolute sanguine calm about the necessity of having a bodyguard in class, and my matter-of-fact acknowledgment that Mike had been murdered in the line of duty — i.e. guarding my students. What on earth does that reveal about my subconscious attitudes towards my job!?
Does anyone else have sequel dreams? It felt weird.