The Sports Writer was subject to graphic dreams in the late ‘60s and into the ‘70s, when he was a drinking man. The one that returned most frequently had him driving a vehicle, but with no ability to move his legs in order to travel at a proper speed or to apply the brakes.
Often, he was on a mountain side and barging through a railing, when he would awake. Always, the Sports Writer would awake before the final outcome.
It was sort of the male version of Thelma and Louise … suspended in mid-air, never to deal with the actuality of what seemed for the world to be a gruesome fate.
These near-death experiences that came late in the night might have been tied to the Sports Writer’s habit of consuming a sizable quantity of Tanqueray, followed by midnight pizza.
The Sports Writer did come upon a morning cure for these nights of gin, pizza and restless sleep:
A 20-ounce Coke, four Excedrin and a big gulp of Kaopectate. Try that for breakfast for 10-12 years, and you are guaranteed to have a cast-iron stomach.
The Sports Writer quit drinking in 1981. The actual sobriety date is April 27, 1981, if you want to congratulate him. Yes, it is one day at a time, but the Sports Writer is fully confident that he’s going to make it sober to a 35th anniversary.
The editor of his department back then knew of the Sports Writer’s mild degree of passion for hockey, and later would accuse his employee of having entered alcoholism treatment in order to avoid writing non-stop columns on what would be a run to the Stanley Cup finals for the North Stars.
That was a humorous observation, but not the reason. The Sports Writer went to St. Mary’s rehabilitation facility because he needed it.
Even with the alcohol out of the way, there still was the late-night pizza problem. The Thelma and Louise dream would rear itself, although not as frequently.
Then came a day in the later ‘80s, when these factors came together in the most graphic and memorable dream of the Sports Writer’s life:
*His youngest son had enlisted in the Marine Corps (an example followed by the older son, who remains a lifer in the Corps).
*The Sports Writer had written a column critical of Tommy Kramer. The main point was coach Jerry Burns should put aside his loyalty to Kramer and fully commit to Wade Wilson as his starter. Wilson had spent most of his career as a strong-armed backup to Kramer.
*Away from sports, this was a time when it seemed that there was somebody in your driveway constantly with a truck loaded with firewood, and trying to sell it you. If there was any sign of life in the house, these guys were stopping.
Another piece of this dream’s storyline was that the Sports Writer turned 18 in 1963. The police action in Vietnam was starting to gain momentum. Most of us lads (not all) were not anxious to have anything to do with the place.
So in the Sports Writer’s dream, the danger associated with being in the military was Vietnam, not the reality of the ‘80s and the chaos that was about to ensue for the USA in the Middle East.
In reality, the Sports Writer was sleeping in his home in Golden Valley. In this dream, he was sleeping on a couch in a house in the Prior Lake countryside where the two sons were raised.
The Sports Writer was awoken by the sound of a vehicle in the driveway. On getting to his feet, he discovered that he had a bloody tooth. Where this came from is anyone’s guess, since the Sports Writer had no history of loose and lost teeth.
It was essential in the dream to do something about the bloody tooth. The Sports Writer went to the refrigerator, found some ice cubes, put them in a towel to apply to his mouth, and then went to the door to repulse the overture of the firewood salesman with a rapid, “Not interested,’’ and a wave.
When the Sports Writer opened the door, he saw that the firewood seller was a small Vietnamese man wearing a Tommy Kramer No. 9 jersey. Huddled at the side of the truck were a woman and a young boy, as though torn from a photo of Life magazine taken during the Vietnam War.
“No thank you,’’ the Sports Writer said, in a voice muffled by ice cubes and a towel pressed against his mouth. “I don’t need any firewood.’’
At which point, the little man in the Tommy Kramer jersey suddenly produced a .22-caliber rifle and shot the Sports Writer in the right shoulder – the same shoulder in which Kramer had suffered separations.
At that point, the Sports Writer was jolted awake. After a few minutes of dissecting the full details of the dream, the connections were clear:
Kramer had extracted his revenge for a negative column through the marksmanship of a Vietnamese gent firing a bullet into the same area that Kramer had suffered agony, with the shooter representing the dangers a son (and then two) going into the military might face … and the firewood, well, that was 90 percent of the strangers pulling into your driveway in the later ‘80s.
The bloody tooth? To repeat: No idea.
THREE DECADES LATER
The Sports Writer has not had the Thelma and Louise dream in years. The details of the Tommy Kramer dream have been retold on the airwaves of a local AM radio station on several occasions, always to the amusement of the Sports Writer’s long-time colleague, Sooch.
There has been no alcohol and midnight pizza is a rarity. If there are dreams, they are neither vivid nor memorable.
Until last night in Southwest Florida.
The Sports Writer had nodded off reading a Daniel Silva novel, “The Heist,’’ with Gabriel Allon – master Israeli operative and restorer of great paintings – once again facing long odds against the evil-doers.
Around 3:30 a.m., the Sports Writer woke up and read a few more chapters, and went back to sleep at perhaps at 5:30.
And then it came: a dream as strange as the small man extracting Tommy Kramer’s revenge.
It was a gathering of some kind in a remote area. There were vehicles parked on a hillside. It wasn’t a party; it was a place that people had to be.
The Sports Writer did not have a vehicle. And he did not want to be at this place any longer.
So, he started looking through the vehicles to see if anyone had left their keys. There was a large, well-worn truck, muddy from the drive into this remote area.
In this dream, the Sports Writer knew this truck. He had seen it in the parking lot of the radio station where he worked. He knew it was a truck belonging to Mike Morris, the legendary Vikings’ long snapper who was now doing radio work at the same station.
The Sports Writer – desperate for transportation -- made his move. He climbed into the seat, turned the key for the big machine to come to life, and then drove away in Mike Morris’ truck.
Hours later, the Sports Writer was home, and heard a police siren, and could tell it was headed directly for his house. And that’s when the Sports Writer realized that Mike Morris’ truck was in the driveway.
He had stolen the truck, and now he was going to be arrested for the crime.
Then, the Sports Writer woke up. It was dawn in Southwest Florida and he spent a few minutes trying to interpret the dream … to connect the dots that were much less clear than the Tommy Kramer, small man with a .22, firewood dream.
It is now a half-day since the the Sports Writer awoke from the dream in which he stole Mike Morris’ truck, and all he can come up with is that it might have something to do with Blair Walsh’s missed field goal.