–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications

In one of the all-time great holiday films, “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie turns in a paper that he’s very proud of. He dreamily envisions his teacher’s ecstatic praise of “A+++++!!”

We’ve all felt that way. And, like Ralphie, we’ve all felt the sting of reality.

I thought about this recently when I had the good fortune to be among the photographers invited to exhibit a single image in a pop-up show. The collection was eclectic. All the shots were quality, though some had me scratching my head over why anyone would consider it even A-, let alone buy it.

It was the most recent reinforcement of something I realized a long time ago: no one makes anything that everyone loves, particularly in the creative arts. (The tremendous photographer Arno Minkkinen wrote, “Art is courage made visible,” to which, I’ll add “when you put your work out there for any idiot to comment on.”)

We tend to think that people who like something that we consider to be gauche or shabby or whatever, must be the thin lunatic fringe who have zero taste or aesthetic sense. But I suspect the reality is that even the most widely regarded “thing” is esteemed by only a sliver of the population.

That’s probably where the proverb “A job well done is its own reward” came from, and that’s certainly true. Even so, it’s nice to get an A+++++ once in awhile.