When I was younger, I had a recurring nightmare. I would wake up sweating, crying and out of breath.
My dad used to drive a small blue Chevrolet truck. It was very loud and when he’d come home from work, you could hear it’s buzzing engine from a couple blocks away. Our dog would go insane a good two minutes before he pulled into the driveway because he could hear that truck in the distance.
My recurring nightmare involved my dad and that truck and my preschool teacher, Ms. Ruth. I don’t know if all preschool teachers go by their first names these days, but all mine did. I guess that was the hot new thing back in the 80’s, sort of like Naturopaths and Chiropractors now with their Dr. Mike and Dr. Fran. My cynicism makes me suspect it’s so they are harder to identify and sue for malpractice. I mean, seriously…applied kinesiology? But Janie believes in it and I love that crazy girl, so I can’t say too many bad things about Naturopaths or first name doctors because I might soon find myself sleeping on Howard’s lawn with nothing but a washcloth to keep me warm.
Shortly after starting in Ms. Ruth’s class I had this nightmare that my father would pick me up from school and we’d run errands together in his loud blue truck. We’d go to Pay ‘n Save, Tradewell grocery store and would always finish up at ERNST. I’d like to point out that none of those stores exist any longer and that makes me feel strange, to be old enough to say ‘I remember when Pay ‘n Save – you kids don’t know Pay ‘n Save because it went out of business before you were born – used to sell candy bars for a quarter!’
The nightmare wasn’t the errands, that was actually the good part because I loved to hang out with my dad. He was my favorite guy in the whole world and we did a lot of stuff together, like grocery shopping and trips to the dump. No, the nightmare began outside Pay ‘n Save while I waited for my dad to get back in the car. Ms. Ruth showed up and she started chasing him around, trying to kiss him. I was horrified. MS. RUTH IS TRYING TO KISS MY DAD! I’d yell, and then start to cry. I was terrorized by my preschool teacher’s attempts to smooch my father. He’d make it safely back into the truck after a few laps around the lot and then we’d drive away to the next destination. He wouldn’t mention the tall, gangly preschool teacher with that tiny, distracting baby tooth that never fell out, who’d just tried to make out with him, as if it never happened. We’d show up at Tradewell and, again, she’d show up and give chase until he was safely back in the truck. Our last destination was always ERNST, and as she returned and chased him around the truck in the parking lot, I’d try to unlock the doors but somehow the lock would keep slipping through my fingers and I couldn’t lift it up. My dad would be running, yelling for me to unlock! unlock! and I’d have a tear-streaked face trying to tell him that I was trying! to! unlock! the! door! Finally, I’d get it open and he’d jump in and shut the door behind him and she’d still be trying to get at him, pressing her face against the glass. She’d make puckering noises and that’s about when I’d wake up, terrified and stunned and drenched in sweat and tears.
I hated preschool.