They say misery loves company. Now I know what they mean.
Earlier this month, I wrote a column about "The Dream," which has been a thorn in my side since graduating from college in 1980.
Here's my dream: I'm sitting in a class and I suddenly realize that it's the only time I've been there all semester. I'm startled when the professor says it's time for the final exam. I nearly go berserk when I realize that I'm about to get an "F" in a class I never knew I had.
Then I wake up, and a feeling of relief washes the terrifying dream away.
I got plenty of feedback when the column was published on www.postrescent.com and in print. Some sent mails. Others called. And a number of people pulled me aside at work or in the community.
Suffice to say, The Dream touches many lives in the Fox Cities and beyond.
One of my favorite responses was from Gene Gauerke.
"I'm 81 years old, work part-time as a nursing home chaplain, and occasionally have panic dreams because I lost my college class schedule and don't know where to go," he wrote. "Variations are misplacing my sermon notes or not being able to find the church.
"It's great to wake up!"
And there's this gem from Linda Hash.
"I had this dream - and its variant that it is the end of the semester and I haven't done any chemistry labs yet -for about 15 years after college. Then it was replaced by one where I am living in a dorm with my daughter who is a baby at the time. (She is now a senior in college herself.) This is a pretty tricky living arrangement considering everyone else on my dorm floor is childless and I don't seem to have anyone to watch the baby while I am in class. Maybe that's why I'm not ready for the final exam.
"I'd be happy to go back to the days when the school-related dream I regularly had was forgetting my high school locker combination. Somehow these others are more disturbing."
Laurel Stahl's dream sequence is similar to mine.
"My most frequent college dream is a French final exam for which I felt well-prepared," she wrote in an e-mail. "It is my last exam before graduation and I need the credits to graduate. When I arrive a bit early at the classroom it is locked and dark. There is no posted note. There is no one around to ask. In the mid-60s we (did) not have cell phones so I cannot call anyone for advice. I run through all the floors of that classroom building and all the others on the "Diag" (University of Michigan) looking for the professor or classmates and become more panicked with each moment. I wake up just about now."
Another reader said her dream usually involves forgetting about a math class until the morning of the exam.
"Even though I'm in college, I find myself on the second floor of my high school, not knowing where the classroom is or how I am going to take the exam without having been to class or studied," she said. "(It) sure is interesting to learn that so many others have this stressful dream."
A former co-worker at The Post-Crescent said she "totally related" to The Dream.
"A couple of my dreams involve going to my final exam in a college lecture hall in my pajamas, sweating and totally unprepared, and trying to figure out how I can (finagle) my way through the next two hours of filling up the empty pages of those little blue booklets.
"Just thinking about it makes me queasy."
Jeanne Bootz knows all-too-well about the unsettling dream ordeal. "I always thought 'The Dream' was mine alone," she wrote.
Bootz was heartened to read in the column that a neurologist believes those who are plagued by The Dream are well-adjusted and motivated to succeed.
"At least I now have the consolation of knowing (that),"she said.
Bootz' dreams go beyond the college theme.
"Can you write one about The Flying Dream?" she asked. "Does that mean I'm ditsy and flighty? Maybe it's a sign I'm going places of great adventure. I'll go with this interpretation!"
Fine with me, Jeanne.
- Andy Thompson can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 257, or by email at email@example.com; on Twitter @Thompson_AW