Living in Paradise

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Family Politics

My daughter and I did not agree to disagree when we launched into a political discussion the other day.  We simply disagreed. And, as those conversations tend to do, our disagreement escalated.

When our blood pressures increased and my daughter, who was driving, found herself going 85 mph, we backed down. But it wasn’t easy for two strong-willed woman not used to giving an inch on any subject that comes along.

The presidential election was bound to come up even though we have been sidestepping it for many months. I have tried to be “motherly” and generous toward her political beliefs, but we are polar opposites in our thinking.

How could our child think the way she does, I have often asked her father?

How could my mother be so out of touch with reality, I’m sure she’s said to her husband more than once?

How many parents and children of different political bent have asked those questions as we wind up yet another contentious presidential election.

When I was a reporter covering the administration of Indiana Governor Evan Bayh, the chief of staff was a man named Bill Moreau. He was a likeable, smart fellow who couldn’t be more partisan. The chatter among the Statehouse press corps was that Bill and his father, Don, who was reportedly of a different political persuasion, barely spoke and even pronounced their last names differently.

I think that was balderdash. I’m pretty sure that father and son were quite close. But reporters still speculated what it must be like when politics were brought up at the Moreau family Thanksgiving dinners.

We never talked politics when the kids were growing up. We were too busy working and there wasn’t the constant bombardment from news and talk shows that we have today. We made no attempt to brainwash or indoctrinate our children. We were just happy to get them through their teenage years unscathed.

My own parents – Hoosiers from birth until death – were very conservative. My dad talked about his contempt for Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and said that Democrats weren’t people we wanted to know. My grandmother, a former Republican county chair, was called “Mrs. Republican” in her obituary. Odd but impressive for that day. My mother’s only political comment that I can remember was that she wasn’t voting for Ronald Reagan for a second term because he was too old.

Despite this conservative background, I’m a moderate who believes in a woman’s right to control her own body and supports Roe versus Wade. I just wish women around the world would choose birth control over abortion. I’m not a gun owner, and I think certain weapons should not be available to the public. Who needs a gun? But I’m not against the Second Amendment. I’m a capitalist who doesn’t like any form of socialism, but who supports helping the poor and disadvantaged. I believe I know more about how I should live my life than the federal government; big bureaucracies are ripe with waste and corruption. I believe in the First Amendment and oppose censorship in any form, except when it comes to things like child pornography. And so forth.

Don’t I sound like a reasonable person?

My daughter and I ended our heated conversation with appropriate and meaningful expressions of love, a “clearing of the air” and a vow not to discuss politics, but not before she said: “I don’t want to know that you are voting for Trump.”

And, well, she never will.

The Evasive Friend

In high school, I dated a guy who always had the same response at the end of our date. I would say “See ya!” and he would respond, “Not if I see you first.” We both laughed, but then one day he disappeared from my life  without so much as a goodbye. Guess he spotted me before I saw him.

I thought of that old boyfriend when I ran into a former neighbor (who shall not be named) at the post office the other day.

The man is friendly but doesn’t really like talking to me about anything other than the weather. If he sees me coming – and I don’t see him – I’m guessing he heads the other way.

There’s a valid reason for his reluctance to engage me. He knows I’m a writer. He’s seen me refer to my friends in my blogs. He doesn’t want any part of it.

I can’t say that I blame him. He’s an art broker and I’m confident his stories are the stuff movies are made of. Not my movies. Not my books or blogs.

His realization that I consider everything a potential “story” came at a party one night when I was quizzing him about the famous banana/duct tape piece of artwork that sold for $120,000 last year in Miami.

“What do you know about that?” I inquired.

He looked at me with penetrating eyes and paused, sizing up my intent. “I’m not telling you anything. You’ll write about it.”

Well, he was right.

“Okay, so tell me about it, and I promise I won’t write about it,” I pleaded. Inquiring minds want to know, and my mind is always on the hunt for good stories – even if I can’t share them.

“Nope,” he said and headed for the bar. I had to admire his determination to keep quiet. I know he tells good stories about fakes and fancy-priced art; I’ve heard them from his lips before — when I wasn’t a blogger.  And I really wanted to hear about that banana boondoggle.

At our most recent meeting at the post office, we exchanged a view pleasantries and he hurried on his way. I chuckled and sent a text to his wife. It was a poster I saw on Facebook. It showed an old-fashioned typewriter with the words: “You have entered a writer’s home. What happens here … goes in my next book.” I’m contemplating ordering it and having it framed by the front door.

I asked her to share it with him, just to confirm that his fears about me were true. His wife loved it.

I often blog about friends and family. Since the only relative who reads what I write is my ex-husband, I consider my children fair game. Along with my 80-year-old brother – the one who announced he was leaving the country if President Trump was re-elected. How can you not write about him?

My man is also a frequent subject. But he just smiles sweetly when I read my blogs to him. He hasn’t run away from me – yet. Maybe someday the former neighbor (who shall not be named) will change his mind as well.