Lunch, Interrupted | The Dreamweaver

I had returned to Chicago and moved back into the apartment I had lived in with my parents and siblings from 1977 until I left home for the west coast after graduating from high school in 1981.

Laeh, the daughter of the original landlords owned the building and still lived on the first floor and had come up the backstairs to give me a spare set of keys and to explain how the new appliances worked.

As she was leaving, two African American men came to the back door just as I was preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pouring myself a glass of Concord grape juice.

The men said they had come to repair the furnace and was looking for the landlord. I told them the landlord was the woman they had just passed on the stairs and they thanked me and turned around and walked away.

Just as I was putting the final touches on my sandwich, three young blonde-haired women came to the back door. Without as much as saying a word, the woman in the middle—who appeared to be the oldest of the three—handed me a sheet of paper which appeared to be an English lesson of some sort.

I asked the woman what she wanted me to do with the paper and she replied in very poor English that she wanted me to be her teacher. She said that money was no object as her parents were Dutch aristocrats and they come all the way from the Netherlands because I had been recommended by the chamber of commerce as being one of the best English teachers around.

A bit taken aback, I scolded the young woman for not approaching me with a formal greeting or introduction, but I realized she probably wasn’t well versed on the basics of social customs and etiquette when dealing with “commoners” such as myself.

I looked down at the worksheet she had given me surprised to see that her level of English was that of beginner at best and knew that this would be a major undertaking, one I wasn’t sure I was interested in taking on.

I told the woman that I would look over her exercises and asked her to come back tomorrow at which time I would give her my assessment of her work and discuss a course of studies.

As the three women turned around and began walking down the stairs, I quickly called out to them requesting that they say thank you and goodbye. They snickered girlishly amongst themselves and all bid me an awkward goodbye, giggling as they walked down the stairs.

Then I woke up.

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