Am I Blue Growing up to be an adult is scary, uncertain, and full of change. There are different ways that adolescence deal with all of this uncertainty. Some follow the crowd and others go their own way. In the short story " Am I Blue", written by Beth Henly, John Polk Richards is at a transition point as he meets a girl named Ashbe on his eighteenth birthday. The importance of this character is that every single person in the world goes through these transitions and everyone has different strong feelings. John Polk Richards is defensive and very uncomfortable with his situation at school. He seems to be quiet and shy and creative. For John Polk to ever be happy and free from others he must overcome his fear of uncertainty, his need to do what everyone else is doing, and his low self-esteem.
Fear of the uncertain can be the worst because a human mind can come up with all kinds of absurd things.
At the age of eighteen John Polk Richards is a virgin. His fraternity brothers seem to think it will be a good idea to set him up with a whore at the local inn. As John talks to Ashbe in the bar she asks him about his appointment. He first wants to know how she knows he has an appointment, but then he wants to know about the whore he is going to see. Ashbe turns out to be friends with the whore's sister and tells him her working name is G.G. and her real name is Myrtel Reims. Ashbe goes on to tell him a little about what she looks like. Ashbe said," Myrtel had acne and there are a few scares left. It's not bad. Her hair is red, only I don't think it's really red. It sort of frizzes all over her head. She has a pretty good figure." Now John Polk is feeling even more nervous as the clock grows closer to twelve, and he thinks he needs more to drink. John Polk said,"Oh, God, I need to get drunk." He feels like the alcohol will take away his fear of sex and he will be more of a man in the eyes of all the guys in the fraternity. He is even scared to go back to Ashbe's apartment when she offers him someplace to get out of the rain. At first he says "No thanks." Then John Polk Richards said," You probaly got some gang of muggers waiting to kill me." That is one crazy thing that John Polk's mind thinks. John Polk does not like to really try anything new. When Ashbe offers him some hot Kool-Aide with his rum, he requests water with his rum instead. John Polk Richards also has that fear that he is going to grow up and be a failure. He has no idea what he is studying in school to become. John Polk said, "Dad wants me to help run his soybean farm." " Well I live in the Delta, Holybluff, Mississippi. Anyway, Dad feels I should go to business school first; you know, so I'll become, well, management minded." Like most people John Polk is someone who wants to do something he likes when he grows up. At this time in his life he is very vulnerable to outside opinion. When his dad tells him that he wants him to run the family farm, he knows that his dad makes good money and takes vacations whenever he wants. Anything other than farming is uncertain to John Polk and that scares him to death.
John Polk Richards has become worried about what others think about what he does. He feels like since the S.A.E. fraternity boys all go spend the night with a girl on their birthdays; he has to go spend the night with this whore that the boys set him up with. Even though he does not want to go see G.G., he feels like he will not be a man if he does not. Back at school in the S.A.E fraternity there are numerous date parties and dances. Of course, John Polk goes out on the dates with all of the other dates, but he tells Ashbe that he never has fun on the dates and he especially hates blind dates. John Polk said," Well, they always say they don't want popcorn, then they wind up eating all of yours." "It's the principle of the thing. Why can't they just say yes, I'd like some popcorn when you ask them? But, no, they always have to be so damn coy." Dates are not the only thing that John Polk follows the crowd on. He has also starting drinking way too much alcohol since he has gone to college. Ashbe is very intrigued by all of the excitement that John Polk speaks of. She wants to know if his fraternity is a good one. He of course John Polk tells her it is the greatest, because he has to look good for the people around him. He also states the fact that he has tons of friends at school. Ashbe says," You think I want to be in some groupÃ¢ÂÂ¦ a sheep like you? A little sheep like you that does everything when he's supposed to do it!" As John replies with, "Me a sheepÃ¢ÂÂ¦ I do what I want!" Ashbe just slams him with a bold statement; "Ha! I've known you for an hour and already I see you for the sheep you are!" John Polk's low self esteem is reflected in his defensiveness. From the very beginning John has been overly defensive about small things. As soon as Ashbe and John Polk he asks her what she thinks she is doing hiding under his raincoat. Then he tells her to take it off because she is getting it all wet. After those two rude opening comments Ashbe feels the need to apologize. While the two of them are in the bar John Polk starts calling Ashbe an infant. This is definitely signs of being defensive because he is no more than a year or maybe a year and a half older. After they leave the bar Ashbe finds a hat on the side of the road and wants John Polk to wear it, but he is too worried about whose head it had been on and what it would look like on his head. The uneasiness that John Polk feels around Ashbe is due his lack of confidence in him self. As he starts to sober up he becomes loud and vocal about the fact that he wants more alcohol. Being drunk allows him to fit more comfortably into the situation of being alone with a girl. John Polk Richards is extremely nervous about going upstairs with Ashbe to her apartment. He knows that something is going to happen on his birthday, but he is not sure. In the past he has not had the best luck with the ladies. There is that doubt in his mind that he is not good enough or maybe he is not appealing to the girls. Either way he feels like he is a virgin for some reason. As time draws closer to twelve Ashbe comes up with a plan. John can make love to her. She said that it would prove that he is not scared to have sex and he would not be doing it to impress anyone. This scares John Polk to death and he tries to talk his way out of it by saying he likes her to much to do that to her. That did not seem to make sense to Ashbe, so she took the comment as an insult. John Polk's display of low self esteem in this story truly depicts the real feelings of young adults.
As the scenes between Ashbe Williams and John Polk Richards unfolded in the story "Am I Blue" the reader can understand where John's confusion is coming from. All his feelings of uncertainty, not fitting in, and low self esteem are feeling that all adolescents feel as they begin to grow up and live on their own. It is important for other teens to realize that all people have trouble and that it will get better. John Polk's character is very important because he makes a few live changing decisions in the story that most human beings will deal with in their lifetime. Growing up is difficult, but when you live through it; it is the best time of your life.