I don't know why people speak so highly of dreams all the time: e.g., the American Dream, "I have a dream," Dreams from My Father, etc.That's our dream, too, one that we still have, periodically, although it's been many years since we actually worried about taking a written exam (in our "waking" life). Judging by conversations we've had over the years with others of our rank and station, the not-ready-for-the-test dream is the great night terror that roils the collective unconscious of America's college-educated middle class. In our particular version we also are sometimes wearing pajamas or are otherwise dressed inappropriately, although the part about having to use the bathroom doesn't ring a bell. Usually the professor--and it's never a specific professor, as best we can recall--is passing out an exam or a blue book and we're suddenly overcome by panic, wondering why oh why we forgot to come to class or read the textbook and generally what the hell we're doing there. Sometimes we think we might be able negotiate, to come up with a line of plausible BS to feed the prof so that we might be excused*, but we invariably conclude that such a ploy would be hopeless and slump into despond. Once, and we remembered this one clearly, we thought we might have been drunk for the entire semester and had chosen an inopportune moment to sober up.
If my dreams are representative, then the real American Dream is that you're in the classroom for your final exam but you haven't attended a class or opened the book all semester, and for some reason you're wearing your pajamas, and you really have to go to the bathroom.
Needless to say, we always manage to awaken before we're forced to demonstrate how truly unprepared we are.
*During our years in the "adjunct professor" game we heard many imaginative explanations for long absences from class. These almost always were told by a female student and involved one of the following elements: 1.) a break-up with a boyfriend resulting in 2.) a change of medications that didn't work as expected or 3.) a death of a loved one resulting in 4.) a change of medications that didn't work as expected. The best one we heard was up in Aggieland, where they usually don't lie, cheat or steal, from a young lady who constructed a magnificant tale regarding the death of an uncle in the World Trade Center on 9-11 and her subsequent six weeks' disappearance from class. As much as it pained us we ended up giving her an 'A,' because she turned out to be the best student in the class.