Why We All Need A Little “Harsh Reality”

In Defense of Opinionated Man

– Clarence Holm

When I was a far younger man, I use to frequent a number of taverns in search of cheap beer and entertainment. With me, in virtually all instances, was a long term friend and cohort. While we were almost identical in age, education and social status, we were polar opposites when it came to temperament and self-control. I would have described myself as “reserved”, but a more technical term would have been reticent. My friend on the other hand was simply known as an “asshole”.

I don’t mean to imply that he had no redeeming characteristics; it just seems those positives were overwhelmed by easily diagnosed behavioral issues. These “issues” normally appeared as the evening progressed past a pitcher of beer or two, after which the usually friendly demeanor would be replaced by a drunken Viking warrior.

When asked why I chose to hang out with him on those frequent occasions of one of his societal breakdowns I easily explained that if I had been out to the bar by myself, I would have probably drank a beer or two at the bar and called it a night (much like an extra sitting at the table in a Cheers episode). Traveling alone my life was predictable and boring.

When my friend was placed in the mix, my life changed and an element of danger was added.

If I were to go to a bar alone for an evening and you asked the other patrons to describe me, you would have probably drawn a blank stare because they hadn’t seen me. When my buddy was along I was easily identified as the nice guy sitting with that jerk. I was the “salt of the earth” and he was a “chili pepper”. We worked well together and produced a good blend of spices.

What has this story got to do with Harsh Reality?

Not a whole lot other than WordPress is now my tavern in which I seek cheap beer and entertainment. By myself I lead a boring existence and my stories and poems are less than “inspirational”. But add in a little Harsh Reality from the Opinionated Man and my world changes. Immediately there are topics to address and opinions to refute. “OM” maybe intolerant, loud and ever-present, but he is a buddy and I am glad I “followed” him into this bar.

Suzanne

Waiting For Love Original Acrylic Artwork By Stuart Glazer www.stuartglazer.com

Waiting For Love
Original Acrylic Artwork By Stuart Glazer
http://www.stuartglazer.com

– Clarence Holm

Suzanne was my friend
And once in a while we’d pretend
That it was more than it could ever be

Her eyes were denim blue
And her hair seemed a bit askew
But it fit her features very well

We played records and hummed along
Our days revolved around the songs
And dreams wandered days without end.

We held hands through the night
Soft touches were sweet delight
So many thought of us a pair.

Life was easy and we flew
Many moments – no review
Pleasant flashes of a life.

But secrets held from our sights
Complicated thoughts, imagined slights
Heartaches crashed into our affection.

Thoughts and songs of life’s extremes
Are only pieces of wishful schemes
In the end it was more than it could be.

And I left her standing there
Her denim eyes and curly hair
And softly dreams come to end.

The Blue Paisley Tux

There is nothing and I mean nothing that can reduce a young man to a quivering pile of nerves faster than preparing to take a girl to the high school prom. Combine the hormonal rage of a seventeen year old male with the intense fear of not living up to peer pressure and you have a series of events, even a lifetime of counseling couldn’t erase from your memories.

During the spring of my junior year, I had developed a crush on one of my classmates. She had gone to the ‘Protestant School’ so we had just met when we sat near each other in Mr. Westby’s Chemistry Class. She was, in my youthful opinion, the best looking girl in Valley High. She was more popular than me, she was smarter than me and of course, she was way out of my league. The only thing I had going for me was she didn’t know that.

She talked about studying Marine Biology; I knew how to change the oil in my ‘55 Chevy. She was a National Merit Finalist; I knew how to change the oil in my ’55 Chevy. She was a straight “A” student and a member of the Honor Society; I knew how to change oil in my ’55 Chevy. It was a complete and utter mismatch, but passion pushed me forward.

55chevy

I worried about asking her to the prom for over a week, but I finally dialed her number and asked if she would go with me. When she said yes, it was like a weight was lifted and the tension was released. What I didn’t realize was that it would return with a vengeance as the event neared.

During a break in the action of a dodge ball game in Phy-Ed class I was informed by my buddies, it was time to order our tuxedos. I, along with every other junior and senior boy, headed for Straus Clothing in Valley City to be measured. Once the measurements were completed, we were presented with “the book”. I noticed each page of the book was protected by a plastic sleeve; giving each of the pages an air of value. The book held pictures of male models adorned by the most stylish tuxes and each of them was attended to by bevies of young woman. All of the men in the book had shoulders and waists that I now realize only existed in fantasy. The hard reality was our bodies were closer to the people in the “husky” section of the Montgomery Ward catalog.

With years of experience gleaned from fashion trends learned from the pages of Archie Comic books, we chose the tuxes that looked great on the models. Since we did not have responsible adults moderating the decisions for us, our choices of the tuxedo stuck

archie

According to the sales person (who, by the way I later found out, had his wife choose and lay out his personal clothing daily) paisley was very hot! And, of all the paisleys, blue was the hottest. Now I could have gone with the plain black tux, but why not make the night special. It would be a wonderful surprise for my date to learn that I had cleverly matched my tux with her pink floral dress! Once I’d selected the jacket, the rest of the order including pants, ruffled shirt and shoes were added with ease.

The next item on the checklist for the prom was the purchase of flowers for my date. Once again I was presented with a “book” with more plastic covered pages. On those pages was a dizzying array of botanical options. The girls in our class had prepared us with the knowledge of the color of each girl’s dress. Why? We didn’t know, but we had been told to bring the information in to the flower shop with us. Luckily, I had done some research on my own and had learned that the orchid was the best flower of all. So I chose it for the corsage and waited to provide the sales women with the color of my dates dress when asked.

orchid

The main preparations for me were now completed; all I had to do was sit back and anticipate the event.