“Last night I had a dream”—there are few sentences more ominous. And not in an interesting way, either, although people seem to think listening to dreams is the sort of thing friends are happy—nay, obligated—to do, like helping them move house or giving medical advice (if the friends happen to be doctors). Imposing them on a stranger is merely unforgivable.
For my own part, I can bear dream narratives—it’s stories of drug-addled antics I can’t stand. What I hate is that they’re always supposed to be uproarious. But many of the problems inherent to an endless drug tale—lack of relatability, the difficulty of conjuring the scene, the essential loneliness of the experience—are the same. I won’t say relating either a hilarious drug story or a dream is an actively hostile act—but alienating, certainly. Maybe antisocial. Certainly solipsistic.
But back to my dream. It was a school dream, I think. Anyway, I was getting the results to some sort of exam. I knew I hadn’t done well. But when the teacher handed the paper back to me, I saw there was a “90” scrawled at the top. Then I saw the name.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “This isn’t mine. It’s my fiancé’s. We have the same last name.” (Editor’s note: we do.)
So she handed me another. This one, improbably, had earned a 110 percent. “A++!” the teacher had written. For a moment, I was elated, then I once again noticed the name written in the top-right corner: JoAnn Stein. “This also isn’t mine,” I said. “I don’t know who JoAnn Stein is.” (Editor’s note: I don’t.)
And, oh yeah: I was wearing a wedding veil, purple underwear, and nothing else.
All of this seems straightforward enough; it’s textbook symbolism. But the real question remains: Why was this teacher so disorganized? And will she help me move?
Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.