On a Sign of the Times

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(The following situation is real, but I changed the names)

I first met Lee in 1972 – probably somewhere between January and April of my freshman year in college. Lee was visiting my dorm neighbor and friend, Rob from his hometown. Lee, a year older than Rob and me, was about to finish his Associate Degree at a community college, so he was looking for a place to continue his education and earn his Bachelor’s Degree. He joined us in September 1972, which would start a long friendship between us.

Upon graduation, he returned to northeast Ohio, and I landed in southwest Ohio – but we stayed in touch. Not many years later, he came to the Cincinnati area looking for a new job. We lived on opposite sides of the metropolitan area, but we stayed in contact by phone with frequent conversations.

Lee is a kind man – not one to get in trouble. Describing him as “straight-laced” may be an understatement – family-man, religious, no alcohol, a non-smoker, empathetic in his way, and willing to help others in his circle. He’s stubborn and opinionated. His voice resonates with confidence and being knowledgeable, which also means he provides ample opportunities to discover that if bullshit was music, he would be a one-man symphony orchestra.

Besides personal character, interest in sports and politics served as a bonding agent. Both of us love baseball and its rich history. Who knows how many trivia questions about the national pastime we’ve bounced off each other – or the countless conversations about recent great plays we saw on ESPN Sportscenter.

On the other hand, we have sports-related differences. Through good times and bad times, I am loyal to my teams – whereas Lee switches allegiances based on his conveniences. He’s also quite the homer. Every autumn he would ask who I wanted to win baseball’s World Series, and I would always answer, the Reds. He would remind me the Reds aren’t in the series, so I would remind him then I didn’t care. In time, he stopped asking.

Sports, politics, and no matter the topic, his opinionated nature allows him to make ridiculous statements. Sharing them here is not the point. Lee makes so many predictions that even one of his family members refers to him as a “Shotgun Nostadamas” who hopes one comes true so he can boast.

Almost 50 years of friendship is odd for us because of our differences. I grew up in a rural area – he, in a metropolitan suburb. I grew up in a multi-national family – he, in a traditional white American family.

I, a traveler – he, a homebody. I, a doer of a variety of entertainment activities and interests outside the home – he, still a homebody. He has two kids – I have none.

I raised a Catholic now a Lutheran – he, a Southern Baptist. I, with a science background and one who understands what science is and how it works – he, a cafeteria scientist who picks and chooses what he believes primarily based on his religious and political views.

We have had our share of good discussions about current events through the years. Politically, sometimes we were on the same side of issues – other times not. There is no question in my mind that every person’s view evolves. When we met in college, we were both Democrats – but of different forms. Today, neither one of us identifies with the Dems, but we are far apart. I, an authentic moderate independent – he, a consumer of the party Kool-Aid and a Trump apologist. I call him a political hack.

I, a believer in the potential of oneness that humanity can be and that the majority of people in the world are good – he, unquestionably the most racist person I know regarding skin color, religion, nationality, and sexual orientation.

Being a reflective type, I will also point the finger at myself for part of the blame for my current feeling. While I would challenge him on sports and political issues, I very seldom challenged him on his prejudices regarding people. Looking back, I regret that choice.

With head-on issues such as President Trump’s actions and divisive nature, George Floyd and social justice, COVID-19’s multitude of impacts, an election year, and more, life today is challenging.

I haven’t talked to Lee in several months and a future conversation is not on my radar. I’ve deleted his name from my Contacts list – but I know his number – and no, I haven’t blocked him.

He texted me recently, but I ignored/did not answer because I saw it as one of his stupid sports statements. But what will I do if he calls or texts again? Time will tell.

The bottom line is simple. Is he a person that I want to associate with these days? Is the situation worth ending a 48-year friendship? For me, the answers are simple because they revolve around the fact that Lee is a science-denying self-proclaimed know-it-all who is a Trump apologist and arrogant bigot. Besides, I have enough divisiveness in my life because we live in challenging times – but challenging times require challenging decisions to do the right thing.

46 thoughts on “On a Sign of the Times

  1. Hey there Frank!

    Fancy meeting you here!
    That could not have been an easy decision to make. I don’t know if it would have been better to discuss his core beliefs – racism, etc. earlier in your friendship. I think it would have lasted a lot less than 48 years. And, as you say, there were lots of good discussions over the years.
    A nice reflective piece on your personal growth and how some things (people) no longer fit on our path.
    Dale

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Frank – I too have got to the point with the few of my “friends” who are Trump supporters where I simply don’t want anything to do with them. You’ll be better off with Lee’s brand of arrogant buffoonery.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark,
      Challenges are quite apparent these days. I would think that the other side is a perspective to consider. But I have a question for you. In your last sentence, you wrote “with” …. did you mean “without” or is “with” correct?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sigh … that should have said “without.”

        I have always believed that it is important to consider all perspectives. It is why I read right-wing bloggers and posts and articles from progressives who are too far to the left for me. It is also why the best conversations are those with people with different opinions/perspectives. But I have simply lost my patience with those who support Trump in their non-fact-based view. They state an opinion, I point out how factually the opinion doesn’t make any sense and their response is invariably, “it doesn’t matter, I have a right to believe what I want to believe.” And I just cannot accept or deal with that.

        The latest example is an exchange on Facebook … a friend said that Biden-Harris are in favor of defunding the police and want to confiscate everybody’s guns. I pointed out that those two “beliefs” are factually incorrect and provided him with links to summaries of Biden-Harris’ positions on those two issues. I asked him to state specifically what in those summaries he would disagree with. He refused to do so and just kept saying that he has a right to his opinion. That’s what I can’t deal with. Have an opinion, let’s discuss and share our opinions, but when you are stating an opinion based on “facts” that are simply not true … I just can’t anymore.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. A piece of me can agree with your point of avoidance, yet another is sad about a 40+year friendship ending. Yes, I think you should own up to (as you have) not telling your friend early on about your lack of tolerance for his view of others. Do you know for a fact that you would be incapable of changing his point of view now? If so your walk away makes perfect sense. If not, to use your words, “challenging times require challenging decisions to do the right thing.” The right thing may be to tell your friend why you are no longer interested in talking to him. Who knows you might be a catalyst for change. Thanks for sharing, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yet another sad impact of our times, but one I totally understand, Frank. I’m finding myself making the same analyses and decisions, much more frequently lately.

    A firm believer that we are who we associate with, and that those associates give others a window into our world and our beliefs, I always ask myself if a particular friend/association is bringing something to my table that I’m proud to have there. They may have at one time, but most of us evolve and grow and when we do, it’s natural to leave behind those who aren’t contributing to the potluck. That’s what I see happening in our culture today, highlighted and exacerbated by Trumpism: many of us are growing and evolving, embracing change toward a more just and fair world, while others are demanding that things remain in some mythical, mystical idealized “past.” I no longer have the energy or patience to keep those people anywhere in my life, let alone invite them to my table.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rebecca,
      Thanks for your input … and I related with so much that you mentioned because he seem to have parallel belief systems. Regarding Lee, I think that if I don’t want to hear something stupid or irritating, don’t give him a chance to talk. It’s very sad, but I’m facing the challenge of doing what I feel is right.

      Like

  5. Cincy

    I think we somehow look at friendships differently than other relationships, where an end doesn’t surprise us. With friendships, we tend to believe it’s a life long deal when it’s really not. If anything, I think this keeps us in it even when it’s painfully clear that both people have changed and the change has become a canyon.

    It’s not a bad thing to end a friendship that is clearly not working. Just remember it wasn’t always that way and appreciate what you had.

    Well penned, Frank.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ll start with the gravy…love the line…. baseball and its rich history. Love you saying you want the Reds to win even if they’re not playing. Got a big chuckle outta that.

    Now, I so get having somebody like Lee, a loud shrill Trumpet since, that seems to be one of the traits of being one, and I chant this to myself, more frequently that I can say…we can agree to disagree, since Dems and Indys tend to have more grace to them when it comes to political manners. I don’t blame you though for scooching the other way…it’s hard and just a little fascinating that the Lees of the world are so hypnotized. It’s also hard making friends as you get older…your tolerance sure ain’t what it used to be, I know. Loved the flow of the essay. Welcome back. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yet another home run, Frank! The loss of a once-valued friendship can be quite sad, yet I suspect the loss is reaffirming in the decision to let this one go. Those of us in the privileged cohort of humans are beginning to take a good close look at what’s been playing out these days. It should feel good making peace with it despite some losses.

    Like

  8. Fancy meeting you here indeed, right here at Marks, B’s, Dale’s…I don’t know! Ironically another blogger fiend (friend) of mine was just telling me she is finding it very hard to remain friends with her Trump-er friends. After thinking about it, I realized it is happening to me as well. There is such divisiveness being fomented by Trump that my once closest friends who tell me they are behind him all the way turn my stomach. It’s a sad situation we are in. Hoping for brighter days and its’ so good to read you again. Hi Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holly,
      Thanks for bopping over here. If all goes as planned, I’ve have another post here this Sunday morning.

      Also thanks for sharing your experience with friends regarding during these crazy times. So it’s not just me! Whew … but still unfortunate. I still haven’t talked to him in several months (very unusual) … my tactic is simple – If I don’t want to hear anything that I consider stupid, don’t give that person any chance to talk. He sent me a text, which I didn’t respond because it was in the stupid category. He also sent an email (on another matter), and I chose not to respond. He’s probably starting to figure it out.

      Meanwhile, great interacting with you – hope to see you again here on Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

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