Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bursting the Bonds of Old Age

The inside of my storm door.
I'm glad I live in an era where "elderly" is being redefined by so many of us.

I was talking on the phone with a couple of old friends (at length, I'd been away) who are also blossoming and making plans and painting new works and even buying new works by young artists. Our conversations veer away from that old and tiresome "howz yer health, list every detail" exchanges to more immediate 2012 plans. One still works full time way beyond the normal expectations of her pensionable age.

Exchange of grandchildren news is minimal and restricted to transitions only, if at all. It is mainly about our lives and what we are doing and the reinvention of ourselves.

I had dinner during the week with a long time friend (we worked together) his wife and their best friends - my friend's best friend since grade school.

I had one of those moments where you realize you haven't really known a friend at all.

I mentioned Rob Ford the much reviled and derided mayor of Toronto that no one I know will admit to voting into office. He is mainly on the extreme right and in that oligarchal way of most conservatives creates his own bubble of entitlement such as severely limiting access of the press to his office, texting while driving and flouting other traffic laws (he doesn't believe in stopping behind an offloading tram).

Not only did they all admit to voting for him, they were supportive of his ongoing faux pas and his lack of support for urban transit.

They put down all his incredible contempt for the public as a liberal media spin and as one said he was one of the best mayors ever as he was ending the prolific subsidies which were enabling the "emigrants" and the poor to continue sucking off the public teat.

Whenever I hear the word "emigrants" being used in a derogatory sense my head explodes.

I sat a little gob-smacked, staring at my friend. Do we ever really know anyone?

I decided to end the dangerous curve the conversation had slid into.

"Oh, did I tell you?" I said pleasantly, "I was asked to run for the Green Party here. I had to turn it down of course. If they had asked me in my forties I would have run, but now I'm just too busy."

Gobsmack echo.

Conversation shifted to "Great meals we have eaten" and "inns we have stayed at".


23 comments:

  1. It's so shocking when someone you've always respected and cherished comes out with some totally off-the-wall opinion. I'm always torn between diplomatically ignoring it in the name of continued friendship, or tearing the comment to bits and causing a major rift.

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  2. I was being hosted at this lovely dinner and thought to just jump shift, Nick.

    I feel quite heartbroken, I've known him over twenty years and he is very well respected and an author of some reknown.

    I won't be keen on further meet-ups knowing what I know now.

    XO
    WWW

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  3. "Oh, did I tell you?" I said pleasantly, "I was asked to run for the Green Party here. I had to turn it down of course. If they had asked me in my forties I would have run, but now I'm just too busy."
    Made me laugh out loud :D
    Oh and i was called an import once ;)

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  4. What an excellent answer to a right-winger - I must remember that one next time I meet one. Yes, it shocks one to learn a friend is of that persuasion. And I am a Green Party member as well as an immigrant.

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  5. I don't care for people to the ultra right and don't want to be friends with them, even if I find out after the fact.The relationship would come to a shrieking halt and never be resumed because a huge stumbling block would lie in the way. I am politically active to the left and feel passionately about that. It defines who I am and who I am comfortable with. Besides, I would want to have an argument with them and try to convince them of the error og their ways.

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  6. CC12:

    I did so struggle to find something that would both put them in their place and retain some semblance of courtesy.

    I am still oh so sad though.

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Marja-Leena:

    Glad to share, I am not normally that quick-witted.

    I am so so glad I was able to leave with some dignity in spite of the inner rage.

    XO
    WWW

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  8. Irene:
    I'm at the age where I realize trying to convince bigots of the error of their ways is a waste of good energy.

    I've neither the inclination or the conviction to work up a lather over it.

    I will not be keen to see him again and there's a mini-heartbreak going on about that.

    XO
    WWW

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  10. Gee, I proof read above, I thought, but a lot of strange wording and words left out. Should I try again and you can delete above?

    I surely can identify with this shock and disappointment in longtime friends I thought I knew. It happened over human equality rights a number of years ago when a mutual friend made a life style change. Then just prior to our last Presidential election, racist attitudes I could never have believed were present reared their ugly head. Interestingly to me, was a friend with whom I hadn't talked for a couple of years phoned from her far away State to discuss having been shocked to discover the same thing about friends of hers. Well, at least the two of us were still on the same page. Does make us wonder how well we ever know anyone.

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  11. I was hosting a surprise birthday party in my home for a friend some years ago. The father in law of the birthday boy, on his first visit to my home, made a statement about my countrymen. You know the type of remark - sautéed in bigotry - I was gob-smacked. I stood and stared at him and struggled knowing that if I let go I would bring the party and all friendship to an end in that moment and anyway, he would not even realise why he had upset me, so I stayed a lady and let it go. Naturally I let that friendship fade, faster than a bucket of bleach.

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  12. I had a similar experience recently. I have a friend who moved to Florida in 1978. Over the years, we've kept in touch sporadically(more on his side then mine; I don't call people).
    He's retired now and he enjoys emailing pictures and jokes to a select list of "friends."
    For the past three and a half years, in the muddle of email, I've received more and more scurrilous far-right and racist "jokes" and pictures from him.
    Like you, I don't have the time, interest or energy to waste on trying to change his mind. I simply delete the stuff, and when he occasionally calls, I talk in generalities.
    We all have an image of other people based on incidents and situations which may be far in the past. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  13. Joared:
    The secret sides of people are such a revelation. I've racked my brain for hints of his racism and prejudice and come up with naught. Our friendship was based on books, the environment, travel discussions.
    I guess we just never opened the door on politics before.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. GM:
    Yes I've been so affronted by others such as you describe and invariably I will say:
    Has that been your experience with ****? When did it happen? Were you friends with them?
    If they resort to generalities I try to nail them to specifics, all done with courtesy of course as if I'm genuinely curious.
    It works.
    XO
    WWW

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  15. Marc:

    I'm absolutely ashamed to say that my ex-husband emails me such rubbish all the time.

    In the interests of familial civility I just delete unopened as they are invariably offensive, crude, misogynistic, racist and scurrilous.

    And I wonder how I ever married such a person who only unleashed such antagonism in midlife.

    We just never know.

    XO
    WWW

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  16. "I will not be keen to see him again and there's a mini-heartbreak going on about that."

    It's how I feel every time I visit my brother and sister-in-law or hear from a distant cousin who's so far right he's left most of us behind. I refuse to discuss politics with any of them because of the bile that rises when we do. It's hard to be so caught between familial love and radical disagreement!

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  17. Good for you. You should really be very proud of what you did. I would be if I ever did anything like that.

    Let me share a small story. I was in a restaurant in Naples, Italy having dinner alone when some tourists at the next table were lamenting in American English how their tour was being sabotaged by Easterners. I bet that they did not expect me to understand what they were saying. I finished my dinner and just before leaving stopped at their table and in my best Oxford University accent said "I hope that the rest of this dinner goes well for you and the rest of your tour too" and walked out.

    I have always wondered what happened after I left!

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  18. Pauline:

    I have that little heartbreak too when one of my siblings condemns "gays" even knowing there are some in the family. He totally believes they are not entitled to the same rights as the rest of "normal" humanity.

    Bile. Good word.

    XO
    WWW

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  19. Ramana:

    Backatcha. I might have been a little more brutal but good for you for handling it as you did.

    I honestly don't know how such people form their opinions. But this is how holocausts were birthed.

    XO
    WWW

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  20. Hi again WWW - quickly catching up here. Am so pleased your Ireland trip went so well and you had a wonderful time.

    Regarding the political divide and friendship issue illustrated by your experience in this post: politics has always been a topic I try to hint about very early on, whenever in company of unknown quantities. It's sad, and in a way it's wrong - yet people do fall into two broad categories, and in general ne'er the twain shall meet. I like to "head 'em off at the pass", where necessary.
    ;-)

    I like the way you quickly worked around the awkwardness WWW! Brava!!

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  21. I, too, had to say farewell to a best friend of twenty-five years standing over similar issues, though in his case it was involvement with a pseudo-religious sect of highly dubious ideals. We humans - what a species!

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  22. Thanks T, I try and avoid religio-poli issues but tend to get cranked up when others drag them in an mulch them!

    I had an email from my friend today saying how much he enjoyed me and how his friends thought I was so entertaining and wonderful.

    Flattery gets them everywhere, lol.

    XO
    WWW

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  23. RJA:
    The divide is mighty between the neocons and the so-called liberals. What is so wrong about being liberal? It baffles me.

    XO
    WWW

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