The other night, I had what is perhaps the quintessential nightmare: the ol' "I'm at school/work and in my pajamas/underwear/completely naked." In this case, I was at work without any pants on. Interestingly, it wasn't that I had forgotten to wear pants; I seem to recall making a conscious decision as I got dressed to go to my office that pants were not actually an essential part of my wardrobe. It made sense at the time.
I've had this particular type of bad dream at least once before. That time, I was about ten years old and went to school fully clothed. At some point, though, I realized that all of my clothing had vanished, possibly due to witchcraft. I guess if one is to be nude in public, it is at least reassuring to know that the situation is due to some mysterious, unavoidable turn of events.
There is another type of nightmare that seems to be fairly common: it is final exam time, and I discover that there is a class on my roster that I have not attended since the beginning of the semester. There are some variations on this dream. Sometimes it is a high school class, sometimes it's a college course. Sometimes I forgot that I was signed up for the class, sometimes I just got lazy and assumed I could catch up on my own. The class in question, though, always seems to be math.
It seems like there are two main ways to wake up from a nightmare; if it's the terrifying "Eek, I'm being chased by a monster" kind, there's an immediate sense of relief -- the stereotypical sitting bolt upright and saying "Thank God! It was only a dream." If it's the sort of dream that hinges on one's own mortification or unpreparedness, it's more complex: I tend to wake up confused and try to piece things together: "Let's see . . . I was sitting in my cubicle, trying to tug my shirt down enough to hide the fact that I was naked from the waist down, and now I'm in bed. How did I get from there to here?" It's only then that I come to the conclusion that it was a dream, and I can relax.
Perhaps the best thing about showing-up-at-work-naked nightmares, though, it that they set the bar incredibly low for the day ahead. As soon as I walked out the door and confirmed that I was, in fact, wearing a pair of khakis, it felt like my day had already exceeded all expectations.