Last night, I had an old dream with a new twist. It was the common nightmare about losing your teeth – do you have that one? I’ve heard that it’s very common especially among control freaks (who? me?) and generally means that you are afraid of having the “real” you revealed – having people see you without your game face, your company manners, your public front, whatever part of yourself it is that you don’t normally show the whole world.
This time, though, instead of being humiliating, it seemed rather commonplace. In my dream, I noticed a very loose tooth without the usual sense of panic. I remembered that I had often dreamed this before, but this time was obviously real since (in my dream) it had been loose for a long time. Oh well.
And then the tooth came out. No big deal. Most of us will lose our teeth at some point, and for the first time I realized that this was not something to be ashamed of. I was mildly surprised that it didn’t hurt at all, but expected it might if and I when I drank something cold. I wasn’t sure if it had broken off and left a root behind or if it had come out entirely, but I resolved to have the dentist look at it very soon. End of dream.
I told the kids about it this morning, wondering if it signified a change in my outlook or personality, amused at the very unexpected feelings evoked by a common nightmare, and went on with my day.
Later in the afternoon, I had what some might consider a real-life nightmare.
It was nothing, really, in the grand scheme of things. The kids and I were at the local smalltown library and I went to the restroom at the other end of the building. As I headed back toward the children’s room, I heard a noise: “Psssst. Pst! Pst! Pst!”
I turned around, and saw 2 people sitting side by side. One was a man, with his face deeply buried in his laptop. Next to him, a woman motioned urgently at me with her hand and whispered: “Your skirt!”
My heart skipped a little beat and I felt my behind – er, I felt behind me. Yes, my skirt was tucked. Very high. Very high. You know that thing we all worry about? It happened. So I gave a little tug to fix things and smiled as I whispered a thank you. She pointed ahead of me and said with a twinkle in her eye, “Well, I couldn’t let you go in there like that!”
I glanced just ahead and saw a full row of high school boys at the computers. Yes, thank you. Thank God for a total stranger with the boldness to say “Hey lady, your skirt is tucked into your undies.” I pray I’ll have the same boldness someday if I find myself on the other side of that scene.
But you know what? It wasn’t humiliating. My feeling of gratitude for what didn’t happen far outweighed the embarrassment. It was embarrassing and I hope to avoid a repeat, but I was hardly scarred for life. I assume these moments happen to all of us now and then, and I don’t expect to be any different.
And that seemed like exactly what I had learned from my dream.