First impulse was amusement when Bob noted that two high school buddies were jousting on line. Actually, I got somewhat of a kick out of it, until I read it.


Frankly, it mattered not with whom I agreed. Boys. Boys. Boys! Don’t you remember the politically bland fifties when our parents told us not to talk sex, politics or religion? Was that so bad?

We came of age in the turbulent sixties yet none of us, from the nice guys that played sports (think Alan, Bruce, Arthur) to the “bad boys” hitching down Lee Road for the Shaker girls, (think all the others)—none of us spoke politics. From Kennedy’s assassination through the civil rights movement, MLK, RFK, Vietnam…Kent State: nothing. Alas, even when quasi-grown in Columbus, even then Bobby hit protests on The Oval only “to meet chicks”.

But we all got along, I think…

Or was I just shallow back then? Naïve maybe? And was I too busy playing hearts with Walt to sense fermenting disagreements? Yeah, I know that somewhere along the way Wido bonded with Bernie Mehl, the far left OSU prof that was rumored to give A’s to all blacks, B’s to all Jews and C’s to the goyim. OK, so Wieder gets an asterisk.

Certain things we just didn’t talk about.

Even at home.

Never talked politics with my father. Not really. Once…we were driving in Toledo visiting Cousin Eleanor—must have been summer of ’65— and Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction” came on CKLW. Singing in the car I was abruptly interrupted when my dad, changing the station, demanded: “Why must you do those things you know will antagonize me?”. With anguish he then pointed out to me that “….if that animal doesn’t like it here he is free to move….”

And that was it. World order was changing; his realm was changing; he had little else to say. What good, (I suppose my father thought), would come from talking about it? My dad, as such, chose silence.

—Until Watergate, when again we butted… briefly. I’d tried to talk to him, tried to persuade him Nixon was wrong. Yet discuss it he wouldn’t… until one night—I think Sam Donaldson had gotten to him—when he erupted:

“This isn’t about politics,” I was told. “It’s about YOU.” “Why,” my father went on, “Do you feel the need to kick a man when he’s down?”

Case closed.

I suppose I bought in; I don’t know—I just always listened to my dad. What I can state is that, decades later I prefer listening to talking heads than being one. Serious discourse? Change someone’s mind? Better I should pull to an inside straight.

It was uncomplicated before… before we all evolved. It was simpler absent open dialogue on awkward subjects…which is why we NEVER questioned (openly) ’bout how only certain people sat in Snyder’s front seat or why it was no matter who was driving or where he was coming from we always picked up Myers last. And it was easier, clearly, in 8th grade, when none of my many friends pulled me aside even privately asking of my parents’ divorce. Silence was a system that not only worked for us, but bonded us.

Forbearance, moreover, sustained peace and friendships. Trust me: it wouldn’t have done me any good to know then that Grafchik didn’t like me or Fenton or, for that matter, that much of our crew was heading off to college, never to return…like Cleveland never existed. Better that it just happened, I think, than to have discussed it. For me.

And so, today, I read again the posts of my bickering friends. And I wished again that they’d kept it inside and fought instead with strangers. They were using strong words, those two, and it made me feel like I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

Perhaps I’m not.

One Response to “BOYZ II MEN”

  1. Marcel Marceau says:

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