Real Life Story by Paul Sohar


The sun was a little too friendly on a recent hike to Ram’s Head Peak just outside of Budapest, within sight of the Danube below, and I had nothing to cover my thinly thatched scalp except a handkerchief that I turned into emergency headgear by a traditional European trick of tying a knot in each of its four corners. With minor adjustment to the knots, the small bag thus created fits perfectly over the head.

It’s an old trick I had employed once even in Times Square while standing in line at Tickets-Tickets, the half-price ticket booth on a hot afternoon. The result caused a great embarrassment to my teenage daughter, who didn’t know which way to avert her eyes until the lively conversation with the strangers around us about the shows we had seen and were hoping to see that afternoon convinced her that my improvised hat was not quite as weird as some of my other European ways.

And perhaps not as weird as my American way of greeting other hikers on the trails turned out to be in the hilly area around Ram’s Head Peak, even though I must have looked echt European wearing my improvised traditional headgear; my greetings were returned by silent, sullen looks.

Suspicion and fear still linger by the Danube like the bombed-out concrete pillboxes – artillery positions left over from WW II – on the peaks right next to the new TV towers.

Just who are the true owners of those TV towers?
Whose ears are those dish antennas?
Whose shadow is afloat in the Danube?

In Times Square nobody asks who owns the pigeons… Everybody knows they belong to Father Duffy, who lovingly accommodates them on his bronze shoulders, of course…

Nevertheless, every time we go into the City from our suburban home in New Jersey my daughter makes sure I bring a proper baseball cap in summer or a Peruvian knitted hat in winter with me so that I will not have to resort to the use of my “crazy hat”. The proper attire on Ram’s Head Peak is open to question. But don’t ask a stranger.
* * *
Paul Sohar got to pursue his life-long interest in literature full time when he went on disability from his day job in chemistry. The results have slowly appeared in Agni, Grain, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Rattle, etc, and seven books of translations; his own poetry (“Homing Poems”) is available from Iniquity Press. His prose is featured in “True Tales of a Fictitious Spy”, (SynergEbooks, 2006). His latest poetry book: “The Wayward Orchard” (Worderunner Press, 2011,


One thought on “Real Life Story by Paul Sohar

  1. I feel like I would like to know this fellow. The story just absorbs me, and then ends too soon. I will definitely look up those books.

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