Friendships have a lot in common with a marriage. You are drawn to another person because, among other reasons, you like the same things, or he\she make you laugh, or because he is able to secure a reservation at the most popular restaurant in town.
But then an important issue arises about which you and your friend adamantly disagree. And suddenly your relationship is fodder for The Ladies Home Journal: Can This Marriage be Saved?”
Of course I’m referring to the current presidential election. I can’t recall a campaign that was this provocative or where emotions ran so high as to pose a threat to the very foundation of book clubs, canasta games, or rounds of golf.
I’m sure that the latest NBC\Wall St. Journal poll, if they bothered to look, would find a sharp increase in the number of friendships strained to the breaking point.
It is difficult, if not impossible, in the current climate to disagree without becoming disagreeable. Politeness seems to fly out of the window. Your friends’ very characters may come into question, as well as their sanity.
And you thought you knew them so well. Now you have no choice but to “unlike” them on Facebook.
We know that the arguments are futile. That we will never be able to change each other’s minds. And yet we can’t help ourselves. We can’t seem to simply agree to disagree. Tempers flare and we become three year olds. On steroids.
There is, however, an alternative to all this argumentative discourse. It’s called avoidance.
That occurs when all parties out for a social evening in that popular restaurant where only he can get a last minute reservation, have tacitly agreed not to discuss politics.
After all, there are other things to talk about. Like “Can you believe it’s Halloween already? Can Purim be far behind?” Or, “How about those Cubs?” or Indians. But you live in New York, so you really don’t give a damn.
There’s the weather, or “Read any good books lately?” “How are the children?” “Grandchildren? “ “ Great-grandchildren?” “ Seen any good movies?” “How do you like your new sports car?” (What you’re really thinking is what’s an old fart like you doing driving that Ferrari?)
The list of alternate topics is endless if pleasant, neutral small talk is the order of the evening. But come on, people. You know what you’re really doing.
You’re ignoring the elephant in the room. Or maybe the donkey? Or the 800 lb. gorilla?
Or whatever your mammalian preference happens to be.
But the avoidance has been working just fine and you’ve refrained from commenting on his Ferrari. Good for you.
All is calm until dessert. Unfortunately, you order black coffee. This apparently is sufficient to remind your friend of President Obama, which naturally leads him to thoughts of Hillary.
You know this because, as you innocently drink your coffee, his next comment is an angry political challenge about how you could possibly even think about voting for that corrupt woman. So you counter by questioning both his core values and his I.Q.
Before you realize it, the gloves are off, and the elephant in the room has plopped himself down right in the middle of your dinner table. So much for civility.
I’m no Wall St. Journal, but my own informal poll has uncovered a single issue about which there is absolute unanimity. WE CAN”T WAIT UNTIL IT’S OVER!
Of course I want my candidate to prevail. But win or lose, our country will survive the outcome. And I’d like to think the same about my friendships. One can only hope.
So happy to have found you! I live in Darien and am 76 years old. I’ve just gone back and started reading all your past posts…I love them!! I plan to also get your book. Three years ago I moved from Nashville to be closer to my grandchildren. I’ve never been so content despite the fact that I’m dealing with a drastic cost of living difference between Tennessee and Fairfield County. I can’t afford to travel but life is so good anyway. I’m at the Y almost daily for yoga, spinning, pilates and personal trainer sessions. I am a bit obsessed with Mah Jongg, and am relearning to knit. I enjoy my book group, going to Broadway and many church activities. I’ve thought about taking a writing class for YEARS. You may have inspired me!! Thank you.
Hi Jan. I read your comment this morning and can’t think of a better way to have started my day! I’m so glad you are enjoying your new life and all its benefits. Transitions are never easy but they do open up all sorts of possibilities, even at our age! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed my essays, and even more pleased that you took the time to let me know. And go for that writing class. Hey, you never know!
In order to still be a member of my clubs I ran to Paris so my comments will not resonate all the way to North America.
The Effel tower’s lights give me enough flashes.
Amities de Paris.
Merci, mon amie!
Hi Susan, I enjoyed your blog post and hope to receive notice of more on my email. You are quite charming and I love your sense of humor. From a 67 year old fan in Massachusetts.
Thank you for your kind message. I am happy to make sure that you get notified each time I post a new essay.