[Reached a “stopping place” pretty early this a.m., next I have to either give Caroline her school day or her home day or a little of both, so need to do some thinking. May not happen tomorrow a.m. as I need to catch up on sleep.]
Mom was always asking me, “Are you making new friends, dear?” I mean, all the time. Well, twice a week but that was more than enough. Mom wasn’t a friendaholic, but she was definitely a networker – a LinkedIn compulsive instead of a Facebook compulsive. When mom said “making new friends” she meant making connections that would serve me later in my career.
One day a couple weeks into my first Harrison semester, she asked me again, and I pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. “So here’s how friendship works, mom.” I started a flow chart. “So you meet someone, right? Is there any kind of chemistry, anything in common, yes/no?” I drew a NO line to a milestone I filled in with “nodding acquaintance.”
“If yes, then the conversation usually ends with ‘we should hang out sometime.’ Next to that box I wrote, “Mean it?” I drew the YES line to a milestone I called “something actually happens.” The NO line ended in a box I called “blowing smoke/Really Crazy Busy Right Now.” That was kind of mean, because I’d heard her say that on the phone to people she didn’t want to see, but it made my point.
Mom looked at me like I was from outer space, or at least like I had Asperger’s, but she stopped asking.
“Aren’t you glad the election’s over?” Christopher asked me, pulling off part of my bagel and slipping me a granola bar in its place.
“Oh God, yes. My dad was driving us crazy. He’d watch the news and yell at it and turn it off and walk around fuming and turn it back on again. Total freaking carnival.”
“I know! Worse than a reality show. ‘Real Housewives of the Republican Party.’”
“’Bible Belt Shore.’”
“So many insane ridiculous things every day, unreal.”
“I cannot believe there are gay Republicans.”
“You’d have to have a death wish.”
“Or not – you could be hiding from your persecutors amidst them where they’ll never look. Wolf in the fold.”
“Their eyes always following their shepherd’s shaky accusing finger as it points out there, out there, at the others, the others.”
“They’re out there, with their gay agenda, destroying marriage. Right there on their calendar, see? 8 a.m. – destroy marriage; 9 a.m. – brunch!”
“Marriage is about love. You might as well let cats and dogs marry. Because gay people aren’t human, just like cats and dogs, so they aren’t capable of love.”
“I am hating gays out of religious conviction. You are persecuting me for my beliefs. The Romans persecuted Jesus. Therefore, I am Jesus.”
“The family is under attack. Clearly, we need more guns!”
“I’m the queer the atheists sent here to take away your guns!”
“We don’t hate the gays…we love them! That’s why we want to save them from their dirty disgusting gayness!”
He laughed. “So, listen. I did a little project a few weeks ago, a funny little web site. I’ll send you the link, I think you’ll be amused.”
“Great, what is it?”
He brushed crumbs off his shirt that weren’t there – I don’t think crumbs would have the nerve to be there. “I don’t want to prejudice your viewpoint.” We laughed; that was what our American Politics teacher said.
“Okay.” We talked about other stuff for a while and then it was time for class. Only later I realized I hadn’t given him my email address.