The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Clash of Culture

           Nahno McLein wrote about a cultural event that had been presented at his university and it reminded me of a story of something that happened when I was in college so many years ago. 

         Now, I have posted some stories about my friend Fred in the past, but today's story is about a different friend who was also named Fred.   This Fred was a larger than life character in both physical presence as well as personality.  You couldn't help but like Fred when you met him.   He had amazing abilities of drawing people to him because of his generosity, his good humor, and his outgoing nature.  This was in the early 1970s.  Fred had come down from his hometown near Chicago to visit me in Knoxville where I was attending the University of Tennessee.

         As with most communities of academia, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville had many programs concerning the arts.  They would bring in various touring groups who would stage presentations for free or at a very nominal charge.  I would attend many of the lectures, films, plays, and musical presentations, usually alone since I lived a good distance away from campus and was not very integrated into the university community.

        One program that had particularly captured my interest was a multimedia presentation of dance, film, and avant-garde music that was to be presented on a Tuesday night at the University Center Ballroom.  It just so happened that Fred's visit coincided with this event which I very much wanted to see.  Fred agreed to accompany me to the presentation as did Forrest, a musician friend of mine.

        Befitting one his size, Fred loved to eat--often and heartily.  As we made our way to the Ballroom, Fred stopped at the University Center Snack Bar and purchased a large bag of M & M's and an equally large size bag of pistachios.  With Fred in a leather jacket that looked more like motorcycle gang fifties and Forrest in a buckskin outfit that was a sort of nouveau theatrical hippie garb, I was feeling a sense of regret in having invited my friends to this lofty cultural affair.

          Inside the ballroom my uneasiness was heightened as I looked at the roomful of bohemian artsy types and snooty looking faculty gathered for the show.  I guided my group to the back row hoping that we would go unnoticed.  My friends showed no sense of embarrassment about the way we looked and good-naturedly followed me to our seats.

          The show began.  All I can say is that it was weird and dare I say--boring.  I pretended to be engrossed in the performance.  As I snuck glances about me it looked as though the students around us were not very impressed either.  Sweat began to bead on my forehead as I wished that I had not convinced my friends to come to this event.  Then when I thought I could get no more uncomfortable, Fred took it to a higher level.

        To my horror he took out the paper bag of pistachios, loudly crinkling it open.  The crack of each shell seemed to resonate throughout the venue causing heads to turn.  Forrest helped himself to a handful and also began cracking them open.  I declined when Fred offered the bag to me feeling shame that I had brought  such uncultured louts to a highbrow event such as this.  And then it got worse.

        Fred offered the bag to the guy next to me--and he accepted it!  Soon the bag was being passed up the aisle and the back row became a cacophony of rattling paper and cracking pistachio shells.  The mood became festive in the back of the room as the dancers in front moved modernly before screens of kaleidoscopic projected images to avant garde sounds that someone had thought was music. 

       Before long those around me were all munching on pistachios and M & M's and the absurdity of the situation hit me.  The feeling welled from deep within me as I heaved and convulsed with stifled laughter.  Fred and Forrest watched me with amused expressions.  I felt that I was going to explode.

       I stood up and led my friends out of the Ballroom.  As I emerged into the hallway loud guffaws let loose from me.  Fred joined in with a lusty laugh as Forrest's staccato chuckles made us a trio of funny fellows.  We staggered down the hallway nearly bouncing off the walls.

       That dance troupe may have been professionals who'd come all the way from Atlanta to do some dumb multimedia thing for a bunch of pseudosnobs who thought it was all worth watching for some haughty reason.  What they were missing was the fun.  As we headed back to the car I realized that my friends were the real entertainment and there was probably a whole row of audience back there that wished they were leaving with us.   Fred, Forrest, and I laughed all the way home and for years afterward.

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         Nahno is hosting a 60-60 Blogfest until next Wednesday March 16.   Make sure you check it out.  There is a prize involved.   I am going to try to come up with something for Friday.  Check back then to see if I was able to do it.




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35 comments:

  1. what a great story loved it

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  2. Well it's nice to know that I am not the only one to suffer from uncontrollable, hysterical fits of laughter! I think I would have went right along with you Arlee.
    I wondered though, what you would have done had you gone alone?
    Love Di ♥

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  3. Thanks for the giggle this morning! What a great memory for you and your friends. I hope you're still in contact with them and have many more fun stories to share with each other. Happy Wednesday! :o)

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  4. Sometimes 'status' gets the best of us - good thing your friends were along to snap you out of it!

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  5. that Fred is one naughty guy :) And thumbs up for our young friend Nahno, hope his blogfest will be exciting and fun!

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  6. Too funny! A "modern" day version of The Emperor's New Clothes.

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  7. By the way, it has been subtle, at least to me, but your blog is looking better and better. I like what you are doing with the header.

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  8. Great story and I actually could see this situation. Got to love our friends and all the excitement they provide to us! :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  9. becca and Yvonne -- Thanks for stopping by!

    Diana -- Sometimes that laughter just builds and builds doesn't it? If I had been there alone I would have probably just sat through it and pretended like I was all artsy and impressed, but glad when it was over.

    Seams-- Sadly my friends and I are vastly separated by the miles, but I still try to call them a few times a year at least. They do provide me with some fun memories though.

    Alex -- Yes, my friends brought me back to my senses and the reality of who I really am.

    Dezmond -- I'm not sure how well I'll be able to do Nahno's blogfest, but I'll give it a shot as I have interpreted it.

    Bish -- I hadn't thought of that comparison, but I do see what you're saying.

    Gregg -- Thanks. Now I need to figure how to make the page load in the quickest way.

    Jules -- Without our friends life could get pretty boring and would certainly be more lonely.

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  10. :o)
    Loved this story, BOID!

    And I know that sensation of "stifled laughter" that has you on the verge of exploding:

    Circa 1990, my girfriend and I are in this small theatre in Tombstone, Airheadzona, watching this Diorama show ("with missile-age electronics")!

    And at one point in the show, it's playing out for us the story of The Gunfight At The OK Corral with these metal characters that move by suddenly releasing the tension on inner springs - high tech missile-age electronic stuffs!
    ;o)

    So, someone shoots Morgan Earp from an alley window behind the billiard hall. We hear the gunshot, then (an inner spring is released and...) the metal Morgan character falls forward across the pool table - dead.

    The gunshot went *"pop"* and Morgan hit the pool table with a *"BANG!"*.

    The sound of Morgan falling on the table was 100 times louder than the sound of the gun being fired.

    The next thing my girlfriend knows, the small wooden bench we're seated on is vibrating. She looks over at me and I have both hands pressed hard over my mouth, my are eyes closed, and my whole body is shaking like it's "The Big One" in California.

    I was trying with all my might to keep from exploding with laughter, ruining the mood for all the other viewers. It took all of my will power, and numerous tears of laughter were squeezed out of my eyes and rolled down my face, but I did manage to keep my mouth shut.

    Yeah, I know that "stifled laughter" feeling well, my Brother. In the future, we should probably just let it out. Holding it in like that CAN'T be good for us!

    Great story!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  11. I haven't heard of the 60-60 Blogfest. I'll check it out. Seems like the Blogfest theme is catching on with a lot of people. I'm just sticking to the A to Z Challenge for now due to time constraints.

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  12. Hiya, I am a new follower. I just found your blog today. Very interesting. Can't wait to read more.

    http://shellseaoberski.blogspot.com - Giveaway Today :)

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  13. Lovely story. It's always important to not take ourselves to seriously :)

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  14. StMc -- Thanks for the kind words. I agree that letting it all loose is good for you, but sometimes others just don't understand when they're not in on your joke. I think I would have been laughing at that Tombstone show. It sounds utterly ridiculous and out of place. You have to wonder what some people are thinking sometimes. It makes you want to burst out laughing.

    Stephen Tremp -- I keep telling myself that I can't do anymore blogfests for a while and then someone asks me and I feel bad about saying no. I'm going to try this one, but it seems more difficult than I initially thought it would be.

    Shellsea -- I will stop by to visit you soon.

    Michelle -- I agree. Sometimes some folks in academia and the arts community do just that. They will attach a great amout of import to something that appears utterly ridiculous to those on the outside and get all ruffled when they are made fun of.

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  15. I love this story! I'm glad your friends were able to lighten the evening and especially glad you were able to overcome your embarrassment and enjoy them. I would have been embarrassed too.

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  16. Loved the story! Reminded me of times when my friends had me laughing so hard that tears would be streaming down my face! LOL

    I'm a new follower from http://animesmusings.blogspot.com and wanted to introduce myself! So hello!!! :D

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  17. I guess I'm not an artsy guy, because the first thing that went through my head when I read about the pistachios was: were they the red kind or naturally colored?
    I never understood the purpose of coloring pistachios red, anyway.

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  18. That's a great story! I bet you're not the only 3 still talking about it :)

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  19. That's a really cool story. It really brightened up my otherwise, thus far drab day!

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  20. Great story! Thanks for keeping it real!

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  21. Oh, I love it! I must admit, I used to take things far more seriously than I do now. Learning to lighten up was perhaps the most important lesson I've had.

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  22. Oh, too funny. I probably would have been your friend Fred. I actually love SOME high brow stuff (the ballet, for instance) but the experimental-trying-too-hard thing? NOT my thing.

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  23. I love stories like this. Too many people take themselves and life way too seriously.

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  24. LOL! Great story. I like the sound of Fred :O)

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  25. Love this story. Thanks for making me laugh!
    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  26. Good story! Thanks for sharing. I'm a new follower -- actually found you through Lynn Simpson's blog -- you commented on an article I had written for her. Just wanted to say thanks, and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    My website is www.eileenbell.com Hope you can drop by!

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  27. What a fun story! I can hear the pistachios cracking....

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  28. Oh, my goodness. What a hoot! I would never ever have had the nerve to do that, when I was younger. Now...? Well, I think I could crack a few shells, and even toss them on the floor. Great "crai'c" (Irish "crack" for fun & diversion.)

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  29. I can picture the whole thing in my head, so funny!

    Always awkward at social functions, I would have wanted to crawl under the seats when the munching started. However, as soon as everyone else joined in, it would have turned for me and been funny.

    Apparently, everyone else thought it was boring, too!

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  30. It's so fun remembering past stories, isn't it? We take a little bit from each experience and blend them all together to get who we are today.

    Funny how things turn out, friends are great!

    Sandi
    http://ahhsome.wordpress.com

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  31. It's so fun remembering past stories, isn't it? We take a little bit from each experience and blend them all together to get who we are today.

    Funny how things turn out, friends are great!

    Sandi
    http://ahhsome.wordpress.com

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  32. Hiya, Lee.
    Had a good laugh. I must say that I enjoy stories from your life far more than the reviews you do every now and then. You are an interesting guy and I like the way you write about things that you have gone through. Blessings, Geoff.

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  33. Custom funeral program. How I wish I can go in this place someday. It's really a perfect place to relax. I would love to go there after helping my best friend who is currently in need of custom funeral program for her mother. I will approach her to go with me. I just wish I could easily find custom free program templates online to create funeral program.

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  34. Wonderful story Lee! You had me chuckling all the way.

    I had a similar situation: A classical music concert filled with the weirdest atonal debut works, and everyone around me was "pretending" to enjoy. I could barely contain my laughter.

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