This morning I had a dream that left a strange taste in my mouth: humiliation.
I seldom remember anything that I have dreamed. When I do, it is often a "pressure" dream: the kind where I am struggling to perform some task under an impending deadline, but I can't seem to get past the first step. Or, even more frustratingly, I keep having to step backward and fix problems that prevent me from even starting. Next to these, my most frequent brand of dream is the "whatever book I'm reading, redacted by my subconscious" type.
Occasionally, I have a heroic dream (like the one where I was Jack Aubrey, captain of His Majesty's Frigate Surprise). Still less often come the odd scary dream (like when I'm being hunted by a meathook-wielding killer), the erotic dream (lips sealed), and the "so completely daft that I have to wake up and write a note about it" dream. I have even had musical dreams (including a semi-pressure one where I was in a conducting workshop, first directing an orchestra and choir and then listening to their criticisms such as "You should breathe with us when you give us our cue"). But this morning's humiliation dream was a new twist.
I recognized a couple of characters in it. One of them is a friend of mine from my seminary years. The other was a guy I very slightly knew in college, when we were both RA's in the same dorm. I hadn't thought about him in so long that it took me all day to remember his name. Yet I knew him, and I knew whence I knew him, when I saw these two characters from different phases of my life standing side by side. The most humiliating thing about the dream was that they didn't like me, or even respect me.
It was a dream in which, everywhere I turned, I saw people gazing at me in disgust, and I couldn't help feeling sympathy with their disgust. Without knowing any specific grounds for it, I knew they had good reason to think me a loser. I was conscious of being flabby, sweaty, hairy, and no doubt smelly; of having an unlikeable character; and of having done something that gave widespread embarrassment to the community that now barely tolerated my presence.
When I approached the two guys I knew from school days, they were working on the ground crew of some institution - I couldn't say whether it was a school, office, or residential complex - and I believe I was coming to them for help. Something like, I was locked out of my room and needed someone with a master key to let me in. The first guy, my seminary friend, stepped forward first to let me down gently: "Well, you see..." But the second guy, the college RA type with whom I was never very close, pushed him aside, murmuring, "Let me handle this." Then he proceeded to tell me off, putting me in mind of how little help they owed me after all the trouble and expense I had caused, etc. I was just starting to wish that the ground would swallow me up when my alarm beeped.
Yowch. Whatever corner my mind turned at 4:55 this morning, I hope I go straight by it another time!