Randall Otis

Words: 1,562

Rating: G. Appropriate for all age groups.

{Disclaimer: The name Randall Otis was chosen arbitrarily.  I know no person named Randall Otis, and any similarities to anyone named Randall Otis are purely coincidental. This story, Randall Otis, is a work of creative nonfiction.}

Randall Otis

To hear Randall Otis speak, one would never guess that he is a seething ball of hatred. He is so soft spoken and polite that when he gets angry, his audience can’t help laughing with him, at him, and around him. It’s a shock to hear such a mild-mannered man launch, but even while we’re laughing, we’re not sure if we are laughing with him, or at him. It’s part of his charm.

It’s part of his charm that he can introduce us to the idea that anger can be funny when it’s coming from an ever tightening, pressurized place in a person’s head. The humor increases tenfold when we learn that his frustrations have led him to give up on certain aspects of life.

Seething balls of hatred can be created through the misfortunes God, or nature, have beset upon them, but some of the times, it’s self-imposed.

Seething balls of hatred often learn their place in life quicker than others, and one would think that this might breed some sort of acceptance over time. It doesn’t. It only leads to more bitterness. They may say that they’re simply giving up, but we can see a glimmer of hope in their eyes. It remains a glimmer for their relationship with hope is concurrent despair, the more hope they have had in people, places, and things, the greater the subsequent disappointment has been. They wish they could simply accept the fact that the gorgeous blonde that everyone aches for, has never spent one second considering the idea that they might be a possible suitor. This is as difficult for a forty-year-old to accept as it was for a 13 year-old that began to view the fairer sex in a different way.  Acceptance might provide some finality to their frustration, but as with all frustrated, seething balls of hatred, acceptance is impossible to achieve.

Every time they near acceptance, they turn on the TV, or attend a movie in which a main character –the one we’re supposed to identify with– lands the gorgeous blonde. There’s a part of us all that enjoys that association. We love to fantasize, for those 90 minutes, that we’re one witty line away from landing a Scarlett Johansen type. It’s one of the main reasons why we men pay hard earned money to watch a movie with a gorgeous blonde in it. Then, after the 90 minutes have expired, we return to our lives, our dogs, our wives, and we’re just as happy as we were when we walked into the theater. We do this even though we know that Scarlett Johansen, or the equally gorgeous blonde that sits at the end of our row, would say ‘no way’ to us. This return to the normal life can be tougher for some, for they know that not only would they receive a ‘no way’ from the gorgeous blonde, they would receive a ‘no way’ laced with laughter and expletives. This can cause some anger, and it can cause others frustration, but a seething ball of hatred can reach a point that will usually leave their audience on the floor with laughter.

The learning process usually does not occur in a seething ball of hatred’s teens or twenties. It’s not gradual, and it’s not learned through trial and error. It’s something a seething ball of hatred learns so early in life that it becomes a fundamental part of their being. Everyone runs across characters that they dislike, in their youth, but seething balls of hatred hate. They hate the guy that displays even the smallest amount of athletic ability, they hate the guy who has a look that all the girls like, and they hate anyone that appears to have come from money. They hate his laugh, the way he tells a joke, the way he says hello, and the way he drinks a carton of milk in a manner that leaves a milk mustache that doesn’t diminish his marketability one iota.

Some of the times it’s difficult to spot a seething ball of hatred before their layers are rolled up, but there are snapshots that the curious observer can spot. When another teases them, in ways that others may consider innocuous in the world of teasing, a seething ball of hatred will explode. When this happens, we will not know if it’s pent up rage, or a well-honed attempt to stop the teasing before it gathers strength.

Some seething balls of hatred learn their place quite early, and they learn that role in life from an ostracized plateau. They find themselves a soul mate, usually one who has also learned how to operate in this realm of their existence. They also find friends who have similar plights. They get a job, a house, and kids. They move on. Randall Otis could not move on. He became a seething ball of hatred.

Randall Otis’s favorite comedian is George Carlin. Randall can throw out a Carlin quote for any event, joke, or situation that. Carlin is the patron saint of the embittered. They usually have his rants memorized. Randall can throw out a Carlin reference in a manner similar to a knee being hit by a doctor’s hammer.

I knew Randall Otis in two different phases of life. In the first phase, Randall was a grade school target, a butt of all jokes, a Frank Burns. Randall was the stepping stone for those of us looking to ascend the ladder of cool. We couldn’t help it, he was an odd looking boy. His mom and his dad were unattractive, but they weren’t ugly or odd looking. Randall Otis appeared to assume the worst of their characteristics. He walked at an angle, in that it appeared as if his top half was too heavy for his bottom half and this made no sense when one witnessed his oversized bottom half.

God graces most of our lives by allowing those gangly, awkward attributes to soften as we age, so that by the time we’re adults most of us are halfway decent looking. Others simply learn how to finesse their gangly, ugly attributes with combs and/or makeup. Randall Otis didn’t have either of these luxuries. He was as odd looking as a man as he was as a boy.

In the second phase of our lives together, a space of twenty years passed, and the man became a seething ball of hatred in the interim. I’m not sure if the grade school phase of life was that hard on him, or if all of the phases in between culminated into the man I met twenty years later, but he was definitely on the outside looking in on life, and his sense of humor reflected that.

As I said, Randall Otis found himself a mate, and when those two mated they found that the old saying is not always true that when two ugly people get together they will create a beautiful child. We all hated to say that behind Randall’s back. It was a child, for God’s sakes. It was cruel to make comments about the physical appearance of an infant, but everyone made them, and we all felt just awful about them later.

On a related note, one of my cousins brought home an ugly mate. My cousin, by other accounts, is a good looking guy. This frustrated his dad, my uncle. I remember him complaining to his wife: “He’s a good looking kid. Can’t he do better than that?” I wonder if Randall Otis’ parents ever said anything like that, or if they came to an understanding regarding their son’s plight.

From the stories Randall has told me, he never accepted his state in life. He adjusted to it, but he never accepted it, and that adjustment was a quiet one for the most part. For the most part, when that gorgeous blonde laughed at him, he quietly moved on. When the boss spoke to him in a manner that a boss would’ve never done with an attractive person, Randall accepted his fate for what it was. He needed the job. He needed to make money for his wife and child. When a genuine grievance happened upon him, however, Randall Otis made noise.

He was right. They were wrong. They wouldn’t listen to him. They unwittingly allowed Randall to unleash the hounds of hell upon them. It was shocking to hear him tell it. I don’t care who you are or what kind of friends you have, when someone you know unleashes the frustrations of forty years on another human being it can be unsettling. You say things like, “You didn’t really say that did you?”  Or, “That is funny, but I know it didn’t happened,” and there’s a part of us that will never believe it no matter how much evidence rolls in. We thought you knew this guy. We knew he was frustrated and all that, but we never expected him to get that angry. We had an idea, based upon his hilarious rants, that he was a bubbling cauldron, but we never expected him to get that loud on someone. We never expected him to be that hateful, or that hilarious, or that disquieting.

A seething ball of hatred is different from an angry guy. A seething ball of hatred is usually quiet and complex and tough to figure out. Randall Otis was all of these things, and he caused you to laugh with a worried expression at times.



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