It was, without a doubt, that kind of day--full-throttle senility. I’d neglected duties only because I’d made myself infernally busy with other things, important things. Listen! I don’t dawdle, really. I don’t watch much TV, I don’t know anything about contemporary music, I don’t scrapbook or read novels I shouldn’t. I don’t sit on a couch and play with a string. I don’t zone. I’m serious. I work--too blasted hard, I tell myself, but then, dang it! I’m a Calvinist. We invented works righteousness.
I’d forgotten about our distinguished guest’s coming to campus, hadn’t notified the publicity people, and felt cowardly about letting them know that, “hey, yeah, well, you know, I meant to talk to you but I guess I just neglected to tell you about this distinguished novelist we have coming. Yeah,—bummer, eh?” You know?
So in the depth of my sloth I determined to redeem myself, which is almost always a mistake practically and heresy theologically. I decided to write out a news release for them, not because I didn’t trust them but because I felt so danged sheepish about my iniquities. So I did.
“Jim, I checked with the library and they have a different date that you have written on the release you sent—could you clarify?”
Woe and woe and woe. What is the blasted date anyway? Of course, I didn't write it down on my calendar--you think I'm sane?
The only thing I trust is his air fare ticket. I look it up. I have a copy from the travel agency.
She’s right. What’s there is not the date I wrote on the news release. Way to go, lame brain. You know what else?—it’s not the date the library has either, the one they’ve been advertising for two weeks. It’s another date altogether, and—it's true—it’s NEXT WEEK.
Would someone kindly point me in the direction of the Home?
It was that kind of day. And that was just the first hour. I was on my knees so long and often that I was actually mistaken for a Muslim. I came home that afternoon wanting a keg of the kind of moonshine that’ll melt a steel nail.
Freud claimed dreams are the overflow images and narratives of our ribald sub-conscious selves. Well, he's both dead and wrong. With me, last night’s nocturnal feature had nothing to do with the sub-conscious. My nightmare arose from the deep, dark dungeon of my sin—and I know my sin.
So I had this vivid dream, a documentary you might say, no intermission. I’m sitting in a locker room I don’t recognize until I see a gallery of Northwestern College football players. I look down at myself—thank goodness I wasn’t naked—but all I’ve got on is gym shorts and a t-shirt. I’m alone. These NW goons walk by and stare as if I were an orangutan.
Then I realize I’ve been cast in this dream as a Dordt College football player, and it’s game day in Orange City. I’m not making this up. I’m in some football locker room I don’t think I’ve ever been in before, I’m alone, and the Red Raiders' defensive line are streaming by breaking out in hilarity, one after another.
Somehow I look out on the field, where I see the Dordt Defenders crowded around each other doing that bouncing thing teams do, jumping up as if some goofy dance will charge their engines.
I’m in the locker room in my t-shirt. And pants. I don’t remember if I have shoes. I don’t think so. And suddenly it dawns on me that when the team left for Orange City, I forgot my uniform. I’ve got no pads, no helmet, no cleats, no nothing. There I sit, bereft, the rest of the team already out on the field in their ritual rumba.
And I can’t figure out how to get back to Sioux Center to get my uniform. I’m not lying.
I look over at the team again, and it’s my Dordt College basketball coach, circa 1968, Jim Timmer at the helm, the guy in the earphones. I swear it.
I never played a quarter of football for Dordt College. Not until I’d been here for thirty years did they even field a team. But there I sat, the only schmuck without a uniform, a uniform and pads and helmet and everything I’d simply forgotten. I don’t know how Jim Timmer let me on the bus, but he must have because there I sat getting nothing but jangling jeers from a string of huge Red Raiders.
That’s when I said to myself, this is not real. That’s when I woke up. Greatly thankful.
I am not making this up. That nightmare had nothing to do with anything I’d suppressed. It didn’t emanate from some long repressed wish to be a Red Raider, had nothing to do with the fact that I’m not really much of a fan. Nothing like that.
That dream arose from a severe bout of senility that very day. My mind would not give me a break. When it rains, it pours. Even in my sleep I get blasted with my weaknesses, my sins, my blasted forgetfulness.
Woe and woe and woe.
Does this ever happen to people who aren’t Calvinists?
What was I telling you?