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.