Editor’s note: Columnist David McCoy is on vacation. This column was originally published in 2011.
I’ve had enough shocks and scares to script an entire lifetime’s worth of nightmares.
Once, while walking in the woods, I stumbled upon a coiled snake, just staring at me and daring me to come closer. Another time, I slipped off a log and fell into a creek on an icy February afternoon. Then, there was that one Easter night when a drunk driver slammed into the family Ford Galaxy, right as we were turning into our driveway.
Stepping on rattlesnakes, falling in a freezing creek, and being rammed by another car are themes worthy of the worst nightmares, and I should be waking up each morning with a scream. But I don’t. I don’t dream of any of those terrors.
I dream of something that has traumatized me more than serpents and drowning, more than crushing metal and freezing skin. I dream of school.
I hear I’m not alone when I dream that I’ve skipped an entire semester of college and walked in to find that it’s the last day of class, I’m failing, and I don’t even know where my textbook is. I hear others are plagued with the same nightmares.
One of my friends dreams she’s a few hours short of high school graduation credits, and they are going to revoke her degree. I’ve known Karen since the second grade.
She was a top student who never missed anything, and yet, we both have these crazy nightmares about school, all these years later.
My son and I paid his freshman dorm deposit the other night, and I then dreamed that I was back in college, trying to find my old dorm.
"Why am I moving into a dorm? I’m 51. I don’t want to live in a dorm!"
I wish I could dream of copperheads and hypothermia. That would be so much easier to shake off. But I can’t. I dream of missing classes, forgotten courses, unannounced tests, and professors staring at me in disgust.
I do have other nightmares, but the most common dream takes place on a college campus, and I’m a slacker.
Maybe these nightmares will stop one day. Maybe, I’ll be able to shake this curse and finally dream of more pleasant topics. Maybe I’ll dream of crashing a car filled with cobras into a frozen lake.
It could only be an improvement over nightmares about missed calculus tests and lost dorm room keys.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.