Sunday Sermon – The Kiss

March Hank





At one point the concept arrived. The world of America devoted so much time and instinctual development to fondling the celebrated few who, regardless of situational recognition, remained strangers. This is a fact lost on the endless websites caressing fame and nurturing those rising to its calculated meanings. I’d seen the other side, the lost side, so often, that this other side became, to some extent, famous to me. My old man said I’d ridden on the wrong end of the train car. But he was wrong. I’d ridden with the anonymous and I’d enjoyed it. Celebrity provided no comfort, wealth manipulated ideologies, power fueled corruption. And none of that changed the fact that when offered a chance at some kind of self affirming recognition for my charms, I leaned into it. Back to the trains, then, the anonymous straphangers providing needles for ballooning self importance.



by Hank Cherry

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One Response to Sunday Sermon – The Kiss

  1. Paul Zolbrod says:

    While I am grateful for this post, and for the wonderful items so readily shared in The Weekings thanks to the miracle of keyboard technology, as I read Hank Cherry’s poignant statement about modern society’s polarizing celebrity- anonymity breech, I find myself sorrowful that so much instant ballyhoo exists in our media-saturated, overstimulated world.

    Born in the early thirties and having come of age before video made the world ever more immediate, images were less abundant. We had to grapple for them in books, whose print left us imagining the appearance of what lay beyond our immediate view. Powerful photographs in Life Magazine or detailed representative illustrations like those Normal Rockwell offered us sometimes offered a glimpse at a reality not directly our own. But sound and motion remained ours to imagine than merely to expect. Those individuals we admired and even envied–parents, a teacher, a rabbi, a friend on the football team, another whose parents owned a car–we could still interact with them directly, filling us with less vicarious longing.

    Thus we could more ably keep company with ourselves and our anonymous fellows. Celebrity did not taunt us, did not beckon us into a reality remote from the voices of family and friends, did not fill us with longing to be elsewhere and otherwise, offered us refuge within ourselves so comforting that we took its comfort for granted.

    Comfort? As someone who remembers and feels nostalgic for a life without so much cheaply abundant electronic reality drowning the actual one at hand, the greatest comfort remains with encounters among the anonymous. With the slightly overweight, middle-aged cashier who rang me up yesterday evening at Family Dollar as I made her laugh at something silly I said; with Esmeralda, a teller I like as she cashes my checks or takes my deposits at the local Wells Fargo branch who giggles when telling about her Mexican grandmother down in Chihuahua; with Jamie, the waitress at our favorite neighborhood restaurant who teases us by name as we order “the usual.” With students I have taught over the years who stay in touch–not the widely celebrated ones but the ones I celebrate as individuals.

    Life’s fullness for me lies among the anonymous. Bombarded like everyone else with celebrity and its exaggerated effects, I still remember how it once was to be fully surrounded by ordinary pals squeezing flippers at a pinball machine. I know how to take full refuge in the company of my wife over morning coffee, our two cats Isabel and Scooter as they push their cheeks against my ankles, telephone conversations with my children and grandchildren. My most comforting images emerge not from the screen’s virtual reality, but from an actual past. Now well along through a lifetime moored steadfastly in an anonymous world far more immediate than today’s one of manufactured celebrity. There I get to keep company with real voices, whether actual or remembered, rather than telecast ones.

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