The Blue House, Dreaming, and Scott

15 Feb

Blue house

Last night I had a dream about my old blue house in Minneapolis.

My friend Scott Hanson was the rental agent and he was there looking apologetic.  There were many people standing there, as though they were having a party.  I was furious with him because of the big crowd and because he had rented out my house by the room, which probably made sense in his eyes, because Scott will do anything to make a buck.

In the dream I went to the back porch and yelled at him about how ugly the wallpaper was that the occupants had selected.  I started tearing it down furiously and pulled him over to show him what lousy prep work they had done.  There were clumps of the fixit stuff you use to cover holes.  “No wonder the wallpaper looks so bad,” I screamed.

In trying to make sense of the dream I thought back to my first ownership of the house when I was renting to a pregnant woman named Roberta with whom Scott and I both waited tables.  Initially there were a number of people involved in steaming off the four layers of wallpaper that covered the walls, including Roberta and her boyfriend.  I had meant it to be her bedroom, but she had to sleep downstairs in the living room.  It was July and  it was horrible working in the upstairs bedroom with such high humidity, which made the work slow-going.

In the fall when it was cooler and the project became more difficult, it became a matter of me and Scott working together, with Earl, another waiter, occasionally pitching in.  Earl had two pieces of advice: please change the color from blue to something else and please call Roto-Rooter next time instead of me.  He said this as he wielded a grime-covered snake down the drain in my laundry sink in the basement. Scott had one dictum:  there would only be one person hanging the wallpaper and it would be him.  His grandfather was a Norwegian carpenter and he had taught Scott many things, including how to hang wallpaper.  “Relationships have been lost over wallpaper hanging,” he said.  I could help measure the paper.

Scott always talked about his Norwegian side, because he loved his grandfather so much, but I always felt the Irish horse thief that was part of his mother’s lore had a tendency to bubble out.  He was good at hanging wallpaper, but he was extremely accident-prone.  In the matter of several days he stuck a screwdriver into an outlet causing himself to get shocked, fell over the old door we were using for measuring, and cut his hand with a razor. He had that Irish propensity for never-ending verbiage, which may have reduced his concentration.   I’ve always wondered if those incidents are why he didn’t visit my house much in later years, forcing us to meet in restaurants or to walk outside.  We did make some mistakes when we were measuring and there were a couple places where it showed on the walls, but overall I thought we did a good job.

The second incident that made him less inclined to visit was the behavior of the six-year-old daughter of my second tenant.  One day when she was feeling ornery she kicked him with the toe of her decorated tennis shoe and told him she hated my labrador and wished he were dead.  (I had problems potty-training him and her mother was sore about it.)  In later versions of the story Scott always referred to her as the “Bad Seed.”  He didn’t tell me about the little girl’s behavior because he didn’t want to cause trouble between me and my roommate.

I think the aspect of the dream where Scott explains that he has rented out every room represents a continuing disagreement we had about how to use money.  Scott drove me crazy because he never bought a newspaper.  He insisted on reading the house paper at work.  He would also search out coupons that we could use when we ate out together.  He once got hold of a Happenings Book for the City of Bloomington and we hit every hamburger-beer joint in the area. For instance, we would split a burger and each have a drink.  It was actually rather fun.  On the other hand, he used to say that I had champagne taste on a beer budget.  It made him incredulous when I bought expensive clothes or jewelry with the money I made as a waitress.

The people who were standing in their respective rooms in the dream  probably represent parties taking place nearby in the neighborhood, that with the exception of my neighbor Luttie’s  parties, used to drive me crazy because I was always grading papers.  Luttie was an exception partly because he took care to invite me.  The house next door went through various configurations  and tenants.  Often it was rented out to people in their twenties.  Friday nights were one thing, but on other nights when parties took place I would lean out the door and yell:  “Please shut up.  I’m an English teacher and I’m grading.”  The new people didn’t know that in the past my lab would howl in the middle of the night, so I was yelling on shaky grounds.  They must have thought I was bananas.

I don’t know why I dream about the blue house.  I have moved on to another house, a yellow one in a distant but small city and other renters.  It’s actually bigger than the old one.  I hear that the new owners have made changes to the old house, but I hope they have kept the color blue.  I always thought it gave my house a certain distinction amidst so many beige stuccos.  My wallpaper was probably the first thing to go and I try not to think about that.

I haven’t moved on from Scott.

3 Responses to “The Blue House, Dreaming, and Scott”

  1. Jim LaBonney February 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Kathryn, wonderful! The last line is absolutely priceless! It pulls every aspect of the story together. Thanks for posting this for us.

  2. claireaperez February 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    I really enjoy this post…I laughed at the English teacher line and the ornery little girl. Personally, the blue house looks so cozy and I like blue. And as for Scott, there are some people that just stay in our hearts no matter what and maybe that is just ok.

    keep writing…I like your stories very much and can only imagine what else you might have to share

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