I had the strangest dream last night.

I dreamt last night that a long lost childhood friend named Wade found me on an internet message board. Wade is someone I have neither seen nor spoken to in 30 years, although I recently did find and exchange e-mails with his youngest brother, Mark, who was still just a newborn infant the last time I saw Wade. What makes this particular dream especially unusual is the fact that when I exchanged e-mails with Mark several months ago, he could only pass along his Wade’s phone number, because Wade didn’t have or ever use a computer.

As much as I wanted to catch up with Wade after all these years, I didn’t feel comfortable just calling him out of the blue. E-mail is a much better medium for executing this difficult type of contact, so while I kept the number Mark gave me, I have still never dialed it. I realize this scenario seems rather far-fetched, but earlier this year, I stumbled upon my old 5th Grade yearbook out in the garage, and wondered whatever happened to a particular friend who moved away after 6th Grade. I Googled his name, which worked because his last name is especially unique, and actually found a valid e-mail address for him.

When I e-mailed this friend, whose first name is Chuck, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that even though I now lived 300 miles North of where we went to elementary school together, and he moved 300 miles South of there after 6th Grade, he now actually lived in the same metropolitan area as me. So, we ended up having lunch and catching up on old times and what we’ve been doing since then. We even met up for another lunch after that.

Reconnecting with an old friend I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 30 years was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was the closest thing to a time machine I can imagine, which is why I suppose trying to track down another long lost friend seems so appealing. But unlike Chuck, the thing about Wade is we didn’t really depart on such good terms back in 1977.

In 1976, my family moved away from Wade’s neighborhood to one in the same town, but still several miles away. As a kid with nothing but a bike, it might as well have been on the other side of the continent. But that next year, I was invited over to Wade’s for a sleepover, which was a great opportunity to see my friend and the old neighborhood. Things were great for a while, but as the evening turned to night, something happened during a game that caused Wade to hit me (he was always a tough kid, who teetered on the brink of being a bully at times). I complained to his Mom, who never suffered such shenanigans gladly, and consequently banished Wade to another room for the rest of the night.

I can’t recall too many of the specifics, other than Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman being on TV at the time this all went down, but the one thing I vividly remember is how mad Wade got at me for telling his Mom that he hit me and getting him in trouble. Three years later, I ran into another one of the old neighborhood kids while at the town swimming hole, and he menacingly told me how Wade was going to beat me up if he ever saw me again. Until then, I had actually forgotten about the whole thing, but became immediately terrified at the fact Wade was still holding a most serious grudge against me.

I never did see Wade again. His family ended up moving to another town about an hour away around the time he started High School. But while working as a pizza delivery driver during college, I ran into Wade’s younger brother Todd (the middle brother) in the dining room of our restaurant. We didn’t discuss Wade’s vendetta, mainly because Todd never brought it up, so I wasn’t about to. At that time, Wade had joined the Army and was stationed in North Carolina (where he still lives today, according to Mark). Todd was fresh out of High School and in a local rock band.

It was probably around 1987 or so when I ran into Todd, so that was “only” 10 years after the last time I saw Wade, but even then it seemed like a lifetime. Now it’s been 20 years since I saw Todd, and 30 since I saw Wade, which seems more like an eternity. It was odd e-mailing Mark, because he was obviously far too young to remember me, so I had to give him tons of background. He seems like a nice guy, though. Like Todd, he ended up in a band, though in more of a Country/Western vein. I asked him to be sure and pass my e-mail along to both Wade and Todd, in case either ever got access to a computer.

Anyway, that’s what makes the dream I had last night so bizarre. Not only did Wade, who’s apparently some sort of Luddite, finally find and start using a computer, but he tracked me down on a message board where I don’t even use my real name. Given the dramatic nature of how things ended the last time we saw each other, this dream had a real Stephen King edge to it. It’s like Wade doesn’t want to reminisce about old times at all; he wants to exact his revenge that’s been festering for three decades.

I seriously doubt that’s how things would actually transpire if I ever did manage to reestablish contact with Wade, but after that startling dream, I think it’s even less likely that I’ll ever dial his number. Reconnecting with Chuck was great, but I guess sometimes it’s still hard for an otherwise rational 41-year-old man to suppress the jumpy 11-year-old boy within. The moral of this story, kids, is NEVER TATTLETALE!

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