A bittersweet day

Almost without fail, I seem to get lots of traffic on days when I’m away from my computer.  Today was one such day.  I got a lovely link from Glenn Reynolds, but I couldn’t capitalize upon it by adding some scintillating posts because I’ve been gone all day.  This inability to post, despite high traffic, wasn’t what made the day bittersweet, though.  What made it bittersweet was that I took my mother to visit old friends whom I haven’t seen in twenty years, despite the fact that they were an integral part of both my childhood and my young adult years.

It was very strange meeting up with them, but in a good way.  We’d all changed a great deal — my Mom’s friends are in their high 80s, while their child is, like me, middle-aged — but they were still, in essential ways, themselves.  The mannerisms, the humor, the warmth — all still there.  Even the half of the couple who was quite diminished by age and illness beamed with happiness when we walked in.

Given how old and frail my mom and her friends are, I had anticipated that our visit would last perhaps half an hour.  Instead, we stayed for two and a half hours, catching up on old times, sharing stories about children and common acquaintances, and generally renewing a very good, very deep friendship.  Even my Mom, who has kept in touch with her friends by phone, got a treat because she hasn’t seen them face-to-face in several years.

It all sounds good, right?  So why was it bittersweet?  It was bittersweet because, owing to a falling out that ran pretty sharp and deep, I lost twenty years of friendship with these people.  Looking back, I can’t quarrel with either their side of the dispute or with mine.  From where we stood, all of us were right.  But we shouldn’t have let it waste twenty years.  And it shouldn’t have taken someone’s serious illness to bring us back together.  That’s bitter.

The sweet part, though, is that I believe this was a solid rapprochement.  We weren’t just faking smiley faces to get us through an uncomfortable, but necessary, rendezvous.  Instead, it felt right — and we already made plans to see each other again.  And that is very sweet indeed.

When I was in elementary school, we sang a song that I bet most of you know.  It seems very apt today:

Make new friends,
But keep the old,
The one is silver,
And the other gold.

Fortunately, this friendship was gold, and even the interruption of hard feelings and many years, couldn’t destroy it.

Herman Cain: Things aren’t always as they seem

It’s an old story:  A man and a woman meet at work and they hit it off.  They’re both married, although not to each other.  One lunch turns into two, two into three, and eventually they’ve got a pattern.  For years, they get together two or three times a week as regularly as clockwork, share daily emails, and call each other frequently.  Each makes the other happy because, in many ways, they are kindred spirits.  During their get togethers, they do not worry about their respective spouses.  Pretty sordid, huh?

Except it’s not.  I’ve described my decade-long friendship with my fellow blogger, Don Quixote.  Because we are each deeply committed to our own marriages, our relationship never veers from the enjoyably and respectably platonic.  Indeed, one of my favorite lunch companions is Mrs. Don Quixote, who joins us whenever she’s not at work.  She is a most delightful person, and I’m as pleased to count her among my friends as I am Don Quixote himself.  Don Quixote and I are just best friends, in much the same way two woman or two men share a purely non-sexual friendship.  I know I feel blessed to have this friendship, and I’m pretty sure he does too.

Fortunately, our family and friends know us well, which means that they know our values well, so I don’t believe there’s ever been the breath of suspicion hovering about our friendship.  But were either he or I to enter the public world and face the scrutiny of those who don’t know us, the evidence would be damning:  regular assignations, phone calls, emails.  It’s all there.  Our honest, righteous protestations of innocence would certainly fall on innumerable deaf ears.

As I write these words, I’m aware of very limited solid evidence to support Ginger White’s claim that she had a 13 year long affair with Herman Cain.  She’s pointed to phone calls.  He’s admitted them, but claims that they are innocent.  I also know that Ginger White doesn’t strike me as an exceptionally savory person.  One could take her spotted history to mean that she’d have no compunction about having an affair with a married man, or one could take it to mean that she has a somewhat strained relationship with the truth.  I don’t know.

And that’s the point:  the only two who know based upon the slender evidence available are Ginger White and Herman Cain.  One of them is lying.  I, however, am loath to convict a person based upon what could be, as Cain says, evidence only of friendship.  I happen to know a couple of older men, men in Cain’s age group and socio-economic stratum, who have gone out of their way for younger women, helping them financially or with work.  Both these men adore their wives and there never was evidence (or accusation) of any impropriety.  Both of them, however, clearly enjoyed the role of avuncular helper to an attractive, slightly younger, woman.  It was good for their egos, although it didn’t involve anything sordid.

I haven’t been impressed with the way in which Cain has handled these sexually based allegations — although, if one assumes these attacks are indeed smears (and, absent better evidence, I do), it’s virtually impossible to rebut them in an impressive way.  In the “he said/she said” battle that plays out over the liberal media, the conservative black man is always wrong.

Incidentally, I don’t have a dog in this fight.  Although I briefly considered Cain as a candidate, he simply doesn’t float my boat.  I like some of his ideas, I like his charm, I like his commitment to America, but he’s not the candidate for me.  The one thing I’m not going to do, though, is turn my back on the man because of unsubstantiated allegations that I know, for a fact, can be subject to other, entirely innocent, interpretations.

(Photo of Herman Cain by Gage Skidmore)