That’s it. I’m finished with this.
Every time it happens, I think, Surely, this must be the last time. There’s no way I can possibly have another nightmare in which my middle-school crush rejects me.
And yet, within a few weeks, I have another one. Sometimes we’re in eighth-grade algebra, and I’m trying to avoid talking to the people in class who were even less popular than I was, to disassociate myself, so he thinks I’m cool. Sometimes I’m trying to learn to play basketball, and I can’t dribble the ball. (This feels pretty much like it does in real life, where I also can’t dribble.) Sometimes his adult self comes to my parents’ old house and we have one of those awkward middle-school “dates.”
In all of these scenarios, we’re both kids, and yet also our present selves, with an adult perspective. Or maybe it’s just that there’s an eternal dream-self, a self that can’t be defined by past and present. Dreams, like myths, are timeless.
In last night’s dream, my crush and I were adults, meeting again after many years. And who should be present but my wheelchair-bound, good-naturedly-racist grandmother. Of course, because that makes perfect sense. I’m embarrassed; I feel exposed. She asks him something, and he says rudely, “You need to learn how to introduce yourself to people. Fortunately, that’s what I do for a living.” He then begins to talk about himself tirelessly, at which point we fade into a delightful montage of myself running around a mall with fairies and sprites who have magical powers.
Scene 3: I’m present at the wedding of former crush and some unidentified woman he’s chosen to marry. Naturally, she’s affluent, self-possessed, and scornful of me. When I go to talk to him, he’s already left, and I mill around the table trying to find any still-wrapped chocolates I can salvage from the physical and emotional wreckage.
Scene 4: My mom tells me to stop worrying about him. He’s not worth it.
Scene 5: I ride home in a trolley car with adult version of unpopular algebra classmate, overcome by a powerful sense of shame, regret, and disillusionment, hating both myself and my crush.
The dream brings up so many questions. In what city can you can frolic at the mall with fairies and sprites AND get around on trolley cars? Why was I scavenging for chocolates at a wedding?
Most important, can you sue your middle-school crush for damages? I could probably afford the therapy I need, but it’s the principle of the thing. I don’t care that he never spoke more than ten words to me, or that upon realizing my affection for him he might feel the urge to gouge out his eyeballs and take a series of extremely hot showers. He needs to accept responsibility for his role in what’s clearly some major damage to my psyche.
Step up and do the right thing, man. I accept PayPal.