Thursday 19 October 2023

Damn you, Jonas Jakes! by Frank Zahn, red wine

I’ve known since you were nine years old, and I saw your drawings, that you had the extraordinary  talent necessary to reach for artistic perfection and become an acclaimed artist of the 21st Century. But damn you, Jonas Jakes! You blew it!


Your problem, and the thing that has held you back, is that with the exception of your artistic talent, you are small-town-Kansas-normal. You were born into that way of life, a life in which guys graduate from high school; maybe attend college; follow the dictates of their throbbing erections and rush into marriage; have kids and join the PTA; take mundane jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table; watch sports on TV, drink beer, and play pool with your buddies in the local sports bar and pool hall; take vacations in the Ozarks, and then, grow old, die, and rest in peace.


I prayed that when you left Kansas and headed for NYC and The New York Academy of Art to get your Master of Fine Arts Degree in painting, you would fall in with one of the wild crowds that haunts that city, become a womanizer; smoke pot; pop pills; make gay and trans friends; get drunk, roll over in bed the next morning, glance at the naked person beside you, and exclaim, “Oh, my God! What have I done!”; and do everything else that might help break you loose from your small-town-Kansas-normal.


And although you dabbled in all that a bit, it soon became clear that you could not break loose. After earning the master degree and a brief stint in your reach for artistic perfection as a painter, you followed the dictates of your throbbing erections and rushed into marriage; settled down in Olathe, Kansas; had kids and joined the PTA; took mundane jobs to help your wife put food on the table; watched football games on TV, drank beer, and played pool with your buddies in the local sports bar and pool hall; and took family vacations in the Ozarks. And the time required for all this meant that you had to put your reach for artistic perfection and acclaim in the art world of the 21st Century on hold. Damn you, Jonas Jakes! You blew it!


And when your throbbing erections diminish, it might cross your mind that if you had not gotten married, you would not have had to put your ambitions as an artist on hold. But dumping your wife afterwards would be out of the question because it’s just not consistent with small-town-Kansas normal. Besides, if you did that, you would be doing what amounts to dumping your kids as well because she would get custody of them. And that’s clearly out of the question.


But then, she might get fed-up with all that small-town-Kansas-normal at some point, dump you, take the kids, and return to her life in upstate New York under the protective eyes of her wealthy parents. Needless to say, that would be a painful change in your circumstances.


Please understand that I do not wish you any ill will. God forbid! But it could happen. And if it did, you would require immediate relief from the pain of your loss. And most likely, you would turn to lots of beer, shots, and hookups with one woman after another. It’s what guys often do, at least initially—attempt to kill the pain with booze and sex. The only thing positive about it is that it would probably free you from the last vestiges of small-town-Kansas-normal.


But hopefully, you would soon realize that relieving your pain by that means doesn’t work. It merely adds to your pain by leaving you wallowing in self-pity and despair. And hopefully, that realization would help you muster the courage to seek an alternative. It's no secret that sometimes a painful change in circumstances can bring about a change in the direction of a person’s life, and hopefully, one that is constructive, perhaps not immediately but eventually.


And maybe, just maybe, the alternative would be the one most likely, namely a return to your reach for artistic perfection and acclaim as a painter in the 21st Century art world. And if you so decided, and it is not too late in your life for it to be a realistic effort, don’t get all small-town-Kansas-normal again and blow it!


About the author 


Frank Zahn is an author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. His publications include nonfiction books, articles, commentaries, book reviews, and essays; novels; short stories; and poetry. Currently, he writes and enjoys life at his home among the evergreens in Vancouver, Washington. For details, visit his website,


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