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Reading Response: "First" by Ryan Van Meter
This essay reminds me of the first one I read in the book "The Best American Essays" by Mary Oliver. This is because of its similar subliminal surprise that is connected to the beginning.
In "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever" this was accomplished with the title being the first sentence of the essay. Its only after you finish reading that you realize this. After your revelation you read the story again, hunting for other hidden delights that you may have overlooked. In this essay the "set up" for the subliminal surprise is introduced in the beginning paragraph as well, but it isn't revealed until about the fourth paragraph when he talks about his father's opinion on how boys should behave. From the beginning of this essay until that point most people are probably feeling warm and fuzzy inside with emotions that take them back to their childhood. Thinking about their first love. Some people might have had a smile on their face until they got to the part when the secret comes out of the closet(pun intended).
Some people may have laughed at the fact that they were duped, some may have been disgusted with the fact that they just displayed joyful emotions while reading a story about a gay man reminiscing on his first crush. No matter what you felt or did at this point in the essay the writer has already shown you a correlation between his feelings as a homosexual and your feelings as a heterosexual. His argument is that he is no different then you or me. If you were one of the people who were feeling "warm and fuzzy" inside and or you displayed "joyful emotions" before the surprise was revealed, then I think it's going to be hard for you to argue with the writer.
This Essay can be found in a book titled "The Best American Essays" by Mary Oliver.