Dreaming of Five-letter Words

I was late jumping on the Wordle bandwagon. In fact, I was downright resistant to the guess-the-word game that was sweeping the country. But now that I’ve given in, I often find my mind swimming with five-letter words containing commonly used consonants and at least two vowels. These words sometimes come to me as I’m trying to fall asleep. One night last week, they even haunted my dreams.

I dreamed I was trying to get to the dentist to have a long and complex procedure performed. This wasn’t my regular dentist but a specialist I’d never met. To complicate matters, I had only a vague idea of where her office was.

My car was filled with children, none of whom I recognized and none of whom were buckled into car seats. To top it off, my dog Kamala was also loose in the car. The barrier that separates the cargo area where she rides from the passenger area was gone and she was having a big ole time with the children, who were growing rowdier by the minute.

About ten minutes into my journey, I realized I’d forgotten my referral paperwork. I pulled off the road to call and ask the dentist’s office if I could get along without it.

(I’ll interrupt myself here to say that the place where I pulled over shows up frequently in my dreams. It’s a tin-roofed wooden shack perched over a swampy, alligator-infested body of water. Multi-colored lights are strung from the rafters. Honky-tonk music is blaring and the liquor is flowing. It’s an old-timey “juke joint,” the kind of place I’d likely enjoy in real life but—in my dreams—I always have pressing matters that won’t allow me to relax and have fun.)

I exited the car to escape the noise of the children and pulled my cell phone from my purse, only to discover that the screen was frozen. No matter how many times I tried turning the phone off and back on again or typing in my six-digit secret code, it wouldn’t budge. There was only one thing to do. I’d have to go in the juke joint and ask for help.

The music stopped and everyone turned to stare at me as I walked through the front door.  “Hey y’all,” I said sheepishly. “Does anyone know how to unfreeze a cell phone?” No one said anything. “I’m late for a dental appointment,” I added, hoping that would help.

Finally, a grizzled old man with a long bushy beard walked over to me. “You can use my phone,” he said, pointing to a small room behind the bar. In the room was a rusted metal desk on top of which sat an ancient black rotary-dial phone.

I felt tears well up in my eyes. “I don’t know the number,” I told him.

“This is what happens when we let ultra-conservative lawmakers take over our state legislature,” he said, shaking his head sadly. “No internet. And it’s only going to get worse.”

I wondered if I’d ever make it to the dentist’s office and how I was going to fix my phone and what I was going to do with all these children and where my dog barrier was. But as I tossed and turned and cried out in distress, soft yellow light began creeping around the bedroom drapes. I opened my eyes. It was morning. This was only a dream! Exhausting, confusing, frustrating, but—thank goodness–only a dream. I reached into the drawer of my nightstand, pulled out a notebook and pen and jotted down these five-letter words: sleep, scary, dream, teeth, chaos, phone, froze, purse, rowdy, shack, swamp, gator, stare, music, bushy, beard, tears, light.

Not all of them are good choices to start a game of Wordle, though some are. But more about that next week.

(March 19, 2022)