High school candle caper

I'm having a shit ton of dreams lately. This could be because I'm sleeping in shifts now that I'm going to the gym late at night. First round of sleep comes between 3 a.m. and 8. Second round comes after I've gotten up, fed my whiny-ass cats, checked my e-mail, farted around, and then gone back to sleep from 9:30 to 12:30.

Today's naptime dream featured me and everyone I ever went to high school with plus everyone I work with now (roughly), at work — only it's a hugely expanded version of work. I've got two candles lit: a little Glade Scented Oil candle that I fancy in real life, and a little cinnamon tea light. I blow them both out before realizing that doing so is going to set off the sprinklers.

So I grab just the tea light and try to cup my hand over it and rush it to the bathroom, where I figure I can extinguish some of the smoke under the tap. It works, sort of, but the damage has already been done. Plus I left that other candle smoking on my desk. D'oh.

I return to the newsroom to see that the sprinklers have, in fact, been triggered, although the alarm's not going off. People are trudging away from their desks and evacuating the room. I notice that most people are in their Sunday best. This makes me feel really bad. I'm no doubt ruining a lot of nice clothes.

I feel embarrassed that I made such an obvious blunder — the candles were contraband for this reason — and can't decide if I should just shuffle out with everyone else and pretend to not know what's going on, or if I should make sure everyone knows I did it and I'm sorry. I go with the latter, figuring it's more honest.

We evacuate to some sort of large auditorium where some kind of elaborate kindergarten pageant is going on. The kids and adults on stage are wearing ridiculously fancy sequined getups with huge headdresses. Their show fades into the background as people I went to high school with fill up the auditorium steps around me (no seats, just curved steps).

Cary Duncan (whom I've not seen or spoken to in years) comes up to me with a baseball cap turned backward on his head and a stupid nerdy fratboy swagger in his step, his posse surrounding him, chuckling. I am clearly the butt of a joke. He asks me to sign this big swatch of cardboard that says something about labor (as in work, not baby labor). I can see that others have signed this thing a la a yearbook. I circle one of the big words in the phrase and draw an arrow out to the place where I'll make my signature. I write something snarky and sign my name. Except I misspell my last name and have to scribble it out and try again. I'm slightly humiliated, and I want to kick Cary in his teeth.

(I blame Cary's appearance in this dream and, hell, the entire high school scenario on the fact that the last song I listened to before I fell asleep was a Weezer song off of Pinkerton.)

I see police officers working their way through the crowd now. I suspect they're looking for the perps of the great office sprinkler caper. I decide to 'fess up. I find an officer and see that she is confiscating everyone's candles — big, fancy expensive ones among them — and I feel horrible. Candles aren't cheap. "Are you going to give them back?" I ask. She says no. Instantly I know some people are probably very pissed at me.

I follow another officer — another girl I went to high school with, except she looks nothing like I remember, and her hair is pink and silver like Jem's, but short and in a bob — into a long, spiraling staircase that you might see in a castle ... if it had a dungeon. Luckily, the officer tells me to sit on the stairs. She's holding a baby, and tells me she's keeping it for someone, and asks if I can hang on to her for a while. I oblige, and sit there holding this big baby on these steep stairs, thinking how unsafe that is.

(I think I dreamed of a baby because just before falling back asleep, I looked at some pictures of me and LP with Luke.)

I look at the baby's face and see drool pooling on his/her chin. In it I can see the spiderweb pattern of my black Nightmare Before Christmas pillowcase. And then I'm awake.