What if Neil Gaiman taught primary school? Such was the subject of a dream I had this morning.
The dream started out at a college, where plans were in the works to redesign the gymnasium, even thought it was perfectly serviceable and some arts-related space on the campus was in dire need of repair.
I was building a scale model of my plan for the new gymnasium. The model contained some tiny cardboard silhouettes of cats, I suppose in order to show scale. I had to leave to pick my daughter up from school. I folded up my model like a game board, and put it into a large, flat box, like the type that games typically come in, and took it to Daughter’s English class.
When I walked into the classroom, the gymnasium model turned into a Gothic doll house. Somehow, through the magic of dream logic, pieces of the house wound up under a table. I crawled under to retrieve them and discovered that the cardboard cut-outs of cats had become real black cats about the size of my pinky. I thought this strange until I came out from under the table and saw who was teaching the class. It was Neil Gaiman. Oddly enough, he was wearing a yarmulke. He was sitting on a tall stool behind his desk. The room was a happy mess, with desks crammed in willy-nilly and books and papers everywhere. On Neil’s desk were a couple of large, framed pictures, laying flat.
Neil’s daughter Maddy walked by and asked me if I kept a stapler in my box. Unfortunately, I didn’t. She’d been looking for one all day. She went to her dad’s desk and began putting a spot of glue on one of the framed pictures. Her dad shooed her away so he could start class.
Neil had a lesson plan prepared and began to read from it. No sooner was he two sentences in when a boy raised his hand and asked Neil about a character in one of his upcoming books. Neil replied that he hadn’t gotten to that character yet and wouldn’t until Chapter 13. I wondered how Neil ever got through a lesson with all the questions he got about his books.
Suddenly, it was field trip time and the class and I were in an old station wagon bouncing through a field toward Neil’s house. We knew we were close when we passed Neil’s beehives, which looked like old-fashioned gas pumps.
As happens in dreams, elements expand and contract as needed, so the car was not cramped. I could have done a head count and not come up with everyone from the class, yet the whole class was represented. Neil’s wife and mother-in-law were in the front seat, with his mother-in-law driving. Neil was following alone in a Volkswagen van.
My daughter was beside me in the back seat of the station wagon and my eldest son beside her. I had my window open as the car made its way over hillocks, rocks, and other assorted bumps that no standard car should ever be able to manage, yet Neil’s mother-in-law was so skilled at driving that we glided over the terrain without being jostled. We headed for a particularly large boulder and when we hit it, the car launched into the air and stayed there. We were flying. I assumed it was because of the magic of Neil Gaiman, but his mother-in-law explained that the car had been fitted with some sort of oxygen tanks that assisted with the propulsion.
Because my window was still open, my daughter worried that if the car tilted while we were flying, we would fall out. I rolled up the window. (Yes, the car had old-fashioned window cranks.)
That is where the dream ended, which is probably a good thing. While Neil may not have been behind the flying car (how Harry Potter-esque is that?), I still think his magic was responsible for bringing to life the tiny cats in the Gothic doll house.