Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dossie T

While I have no idea what prompted her appearance, I'm delighted that Dream Center brought her in last night.

Miss Talbert was my high school English teacher in my junior year.  I don't remember when, but by some point in my senior year, she became Mrs. Conger.  When we talked about her, she was Dossie T.  A lot of kids didn't care for her...too strict, too smart, expected too much.  To me, she approached goddessness.  While I'd always wanted to be a teacher, she truly inspired me in those two years.  Sad I never got to do that, but I probably wouldn't have been all that good anyway.

Once I complained about the Bs and B+s I received on a string of essays.  I told her I thought they were pretty good and I didn't understand why they weren't A material.  She told me that for most of the kids they would have been A material, but she knew I could do better.  An A from her had to be earned.  She told me that the grade on my report card reflected how well I was doing, so my parents (and my permanent record) could see I knew my stuff; her grades for my writing, however, were between the two of us.  When I got an A, I knew I was doing my best.

The dream starts as I drive toward Coatesville, once one of Pennsylvania's major steel cities.  I drive by a large (non-existant) commercial airport.  Before I get to Coatesville, I turn off the highway and drive through a hilly development with dirt streets like water park tubes, except they aren't covered.  I get out of there and am in a shopping center.  I go into a large store only to find it nearly empty.  What little business it has is a coffee shop, and it's dwarfed by the size of the building.  I'm in some sort of conveyance and drive by her.  I recognize her immediately and I'm delighted she recognizes me.  We want to have coffee, but she aplogizes that she has to give an interview.  I look over to her table and see two men who were my classmates.  One, who was an AV guy with me, bumbles about trying to set up his recording equipment.  The other, who became an attorney, is very smarmy and full of himself.  Dossie T clearly would rather talk with me and reluctantly goes to the table.  The camera guy can't get it together and the interviewer asks insipid questions.  She finally says she can't spare more time and joins me at a different table.  I can't get over how wonderful she looks and that after all these years she remembers me.  She asks if I became a teacher.  I tell her I ddn't, but that I did make part of my living as a writer.  Her face lights up.  "And I'll bet you were good, too," she says with a smile.  A child comes to the table.  Dossie T tells her that she's busy.  Wow.  I have Miss Talbert all to myself.  It doesn't come up, but I have the feeling she remembers grading my writing harder and I hope she understands that I'm grateful for that.

I don't remember anything after that.  I don't know if she'd have been happy to hear how I made out.  Frankly, I don't know that she'd remember me.  Would she still be alive?  I don't remember ever dreaming about her before, which, I suppose, is why this one was so special. 

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