The Prom & Taxes

"March Madness" is near completion. Judging from the wailing and gnashing of teeth from people carrying their "brackets" through the halls at work, "mad" is apt.

The Scream. Edvard Munch

The Scream. Edvard Munch

Does March mind being Mad? What if every month had an emotion, feeling or sentiment attached to it. The little month of February certainly does.

If I were King for a day, or the Pope, or Oprah... I would proclaim: ANGST APRIL!

The thought first hit me as my Amazing-Missus and I strolled the huckster-lined aisles of the OKC Home & Garden Show. I tried to make the occasion more romantic than it could ever be by imagining it is an old street market, but instead of vendors at their carts selling fruit, flowers or fish, they were proclaiming the virtues of vinyl siding, waterless cookware and something called a "Sham-Wow."

They were using marketing tricks older than Freud's "Pleasure Principle. I mentioned it a few blog posts back. The thought is, that for us mortals it all comes down to instinctively seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Jeremy Bentham agreed, "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure".

Few places can you see it side-by-side better than at this show. Littered throughout were displays of hot tubs and spas with posters depicting a viagra-gorged guy with at least two former Miss-Somethings, lounging joyously with glasses of wine sitting in built in cup holders. And then, in the very next display, storm shelters with large posters of bedraggled people combing through the wreckage of the Moore and El Reno tornados.

Few things motivate like the promise of pleasure and the potential in fear. Remember the videos of car wrecks they made us watch in Driver's Ed. I still have nightmares about the pictures that were in the textbook for the scuba diving class I took in college. And who can forget revival time at church when we were kids. They would entice us all to come for "Children's Night" with all-you-can-eat hot dogs. Then they would march us to the service where the evangelist would scare us into submission by "holding us over hell like one of those weenies on a stick."

So what is angst? From

Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, the emotion is anxiety, not angst. Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weighs on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear.

To me, April brings more angst than any other month. I'll prove it with two words: April Fifteenth! Angst is right for April because, in the eye of it's threatening storm, is the hopeful promise of new buds and fresh starts.

April has always been ominous. Seriously; what life event packs more angst (and we're talking teen angst now; the worst kind) than the high school prom. The whole thing: finding a date, that corsage, the expense, the tux, the picking her up, the dancing, did I mention the expense? Then there's the whole angst-filled after-prom thing. It's all sweaty pits and palms and potential-where does the relationship go from here.

How powerful is angst? just think how much of our music is dedicated to it. Here's a sample. And while this is not a prom scenario per se; well you get the point.

By Lesley Gore

Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone
Judy left the same time
Why was he holding her hand
When he's supposed to be mine

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you

Playin' my records, keep dancin' all night
Leave me alone for a while
'Till Johnny's dancin' with me
I've got no reason to smile

Judy and Johnny just walked through the door
Like a queen with her king
Oh what a birthday surprise
Judy's wearin' his ring

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you