Willy didn’t have any teeth. That wouldn’t have been noticeable had he worn his dentures, but they hurt his gums. He shaved about once a week, wore cowboy boots, and laughed like a man triple his size. We worked together in the oil field, on the night shift. He once told me that in a dream he had, I was the hero, leading him and two others drivers down serpentine back roads, through blinding fog, in the black of night, back to our truck yard. Willy could make you feel like a hero, even if you were one only in a dream.
There wasn’t much to do in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, in the TX panhandle, but smoke, drink coffee, and bullshit. So that’s what we did. I knew my coworkers too well. One guy had a wife who kept lesbian lovers on the side (much to his seeming delight). Another—the only true anarchist I’ve even known—hated cops with such ferocity he had a tattoo on his arm with an officer in the crosshairs. And still another told such monstrous lies I think even the devil would have blushed to repeat them.
One night we all were relating what we’d do with the money we won in a lottery. Our answers were as predictably boring as those discussions usually produce. All except Willy’s. When Willy hit the jackpot, his dream was to take the winnings, find the biggest double-wide he could get, buy it and a few acres, and settle down to a life of leisure with his family. Willy, like all men, had his dream.
I’ve told that story before, and laughed at my friend, but I don’t think I’ll do that anymore. For I’ve come to realize that dreams don’t have to be big to be good dreams. What makes the man who dreams of becoming king of the world a better dreamer than the man who wants to be king of his double-wide? What makes the woman who dreams of becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company a better dreamer than the woman who dreams of giving birth to a child? I’d rather be the companion of a man who dreams of what will make him happy, than one who dreams of what will make him rich, or powerful, or famous.
Willy was a simple man with a wife, children, grandchildren, and a dream. He had worked hard his whole life. He drove 1 ½ hours every day to get to work, worked a 12 hour shift, then drove back home. Then got up and did it all over again. In that double wide trailer perhaps he would have come into his kingdom. His was a good dream, for he dreamed of being a hero for those he so dearly loved.