By Steve Cash / Detroit
I love writing for The Insider. It’s a great outlet for my humor and thoughts. The editor has been wonderful to me in allowing me to contribute. It is obvious to me, however, that most of the writers and readers of The Insider have a different mindset than I do.
At the risk of entering the lion's den or the belly of the beast, I must admit that I am a conservative. I have certain political and social ideas and values that I suspect would not sit well with many Insider followers.
I mention this just as an introduction to my story. I have no intention of having a political argument or discussion with anybody. I'm too old and tired for that. I only allude to my political preference to give you a little background.
Last week, I drove by a restaurant in West Bloomfield, Mich, a few miles from my home. It brought back some unusual memories. About three years ago, I walked into that restaurant with one of my high school chums. I went there for the lamb chops. I love lamb chops and was told they were the best.
I entered a packed house. The place was full and loud. As I walked towards the hostess, I noticed a fella I had gone to school with approaching me. I assumed he was going to say hello. He stopped about 10 feet in front of me and screamed, “There he is– he's a
I stopped in my tracks. I've been addressed as many things in my life– putz, schmuck, jerk–but never as “a Trumper” and never as loud and never in such an accusatory tone.
The restaurant became silent for a moment as the diners looked around to see who was the object of this tirade. As they all stared at me for a minute, I felt like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, who was forced to wear a badge of dishonor so everyone would know how evil she was. At a loss for words, I played this attack off as if he were joking and asked the hostess for a table. I sat down at my table still a little bit stunned.
I got my bearings and looked over at the gentleman, who was clearly extremely annoyed with me. It was hard for me to understand his reaction. Even if he were passionate about his beliefs, why would he choose that forum in which to express them? Although he had embarrassed me, even if the other diners agreed with his point of view, they must know that his attack was inappropriate and ill-timed.
Just when I was feeling more secure and comfortable, a recognizable face waved me over from an adjacent table. It was my old real-estate associate Sherry. She was sitting with three friends. I strolled over to her table. She said that she had heard the man who screamed at me. I thought to myself, surely this wonderful friend was going to come to my defense.
Instead, she doubled down. " I didn't know you supported him!" she said. What happened to you?" the other woman at the table immediately joined in. “You support that ass,” they shouted. Then, in unison, they all made the sign of the cross and pointed at me as if they were fending off Bella
Lugosi in the 1931 version of Dracula.
What the hell had I gotten myself into? I innocently came in for lamb chops and now felt like I was the object of social and political disdain. I thought about leaving and not subjecting myself to any more ridicule or mockery, but that great lamb chop review from my friend kept ringing in my ear.
So, I ordered my food and for the time being things seem to calm down. I thought I was finally out of the woods. I was wrong. As I bit into my Caesar salad, an old client of mine approached my table. There was not even a pretense of a greeting as he started right in on his admonishment of me for my support of Donald Trump. Evidently, he had also seen the aforementioned commotion, and felt no hesitation in criticizing what he believed to be my distorted viewpoint. He said that he had fond memories of our business relationship (I sold his house), but he was surprised that he had not known that my judgment was so questionable.
Now totally on the defensive, I tried to philosophically explain that I knew Trump was flawed like all humans, but I felt he had made some righteous decisions. My client was no fan of my philosophy, though, and he dismissed my words as gibberish. He said goodbye and I couldn't help feeling that I had lost an argument and a client.
As the main course arrived, I bit into those great chops, but I was apprehensive about another possible attack. Luckily, I finished the meal with no further interruptions. I left the joint without looking up. I felt like Bill Buckner sneaking out of Shea after his momentous World Series error.
I found my car and thought at least the worst was over. I finally got home and felt safe. I was with my loving family, who rightly or wrongly shared my views. But once again, my optimistic outlook was
I turned on the computer and there it was-the email from hell. How ironic that I would receive it only an hour after my nightmarish restaurant episode. The email was from one of my dearest friends. He knew nothing about the restaurant situation but was up in arms concerning some of my recent Facebook posts. He said although we had been lifelong friends, he could no longer respect me.
He documented how he had been brought up in a liberal, empathetic home and that my conservative values were the polar opposite of any redeeming precepts that he lived by. He said to remain friends with me would be hypocritical and in some ways a betrayal to the lessons and values he had taught his own grown children. In short, he tore me a new one and he didn't see any way of reconciling our massive differences. He was righteous and I was not.
I was devastated. I'm no genius, but I'm no dummy either. I'm fairly well-read and my views have not been arrived at willy-nilly. To attack me because I think differently seemed unfair and arrogant. My friend sort of put himself in a holier-than-thou place, where his ideas were high-minded, and any opposing views were evil.
This email made the lamb chop fiasco of several hours ago seem tame. I realize that we are living in a volatile and divisive time, but I never thought it would break up lifelong, loving friendships.
After a night of attacks and heartbreak, I gathered myself together and responded to my friend the next day. I told him that I was very hurt by his comments. I told him I had a different take on certain issues and that there had been a time when different opinions were discussed in a respectful and civil manner.
I objected to his self-righteous claim that his opinion was the “correct one" and that my opinion somehow indicated I had lost my moral compass.
Unfortunately, it was no use. His convictions were so deep he could not turn back. He saw ending the friendship as a moral imperative. There was no turning back for him.
Two years went by. I often thought of him with sadness. I loved him. Had known him since I was 15. Great times. Great laughs. Thought of calling him often but afraid of further hurtful rejection.
Then fate intervened. A third party stepped in and arranged for my friend and me to have a conversation. The two of us scheduled a meal and met. Within five minutes, all was forgotten. The bond we had developed over 55 years (excuse the expression) "trumped" the foolish and insignificant political differences. In a moment our loving and wonderful friendship was restored. We laughed and we cried at that luncheon. We apologized and we were embarrassed at our stubbornness.
He still has his views and I still have mine. We will never agree but it doesn't matter. We came away both believing political beliefs do not define the sum of a person. I feel blessed to have him in my life today.
In conclusion, let me say that day was one of the most traumatic in my life. I felt unfairly attacked and demonized just because I have my own mindset. I want to alert Insider readers that I have my own opinions on abortion, gun control, and what should be taught in school. I wouldn't push my beliefs on others, but by the same token am not ashamed to state them openly. I only ask that if you are aware of my beliefs and see me in a restaurant, please let me finish my lemon lush before impugning my already suspect character.
Steve Cash is originally from Oak Park, Mich. He is a longtime real estate agent who used to do stand-up comedy in L.A. His claim to fame was winning The Gong Show in 1977, and working at the Comedy Store with such greats as David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Michael Keaton. After watching those brilliant comics perform, Steve realized he’d better make a beeline back to Detroit and get back into real estate. Steve has had articles published in a number of publications and enjoys writing and trying to make people laugh.