Study Guide

Having a Coke with You Versions of Reality

By Frank O'Hara

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Versions of Reality

The lights get dimmer. The floor begins to tilt. The colors all swirl together and your feet seem to come loose from the earth. Did someone finally poison the sloppy joe mix at the school cafeteria? Did you all of a sudden forget how to breathe? No, silly. Just like the speaker in "Having a Coke with You," you're in love. As a result, your entire version of reality has shifted, right down to the physical level. Go to bed fine one night, but then wake up in love, and the world seems a totally different place.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How real is a person's appearance? Doesn't how we feel about them change how they look in our eyes? What about for our speaker?
  2. Is love just another kind of escape from reality for our speaker? Is he replacing art with love, yet still not living in the real world? 
  3. What must an artist do to transform the reality of their audience? 
  4. In what way(s) does the speaker think that the artists have been cheated? 
  5. What do you think is meant by the popular phrase keeping it real? Is that even possible? What does "real" mean to you? How might art and love change that idea?

Chew on This

As both art and being in love show, reality is a totally fluid and changeable thing. Especially for our speaker.

Love is not superior to art, in the speaker's mind. Instead, it's a replacement for art. His interest in both of them has more to do with escaping his reality than anything else.

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