friendship

The Shroud of Fatalism

So, you have  a great day at school. Your teachers laugh at your jokes. You get a 95 on your math exam. You talk to one of your teachers during lunch. They tell you are a remarkable young man. You leave the school at three and walk home. You’re in high gear. The world is your oyster.

Then you walk through the front door of your home. Your mother is screaming at your father. You duck as a frying pan comes flying across the kitchen. She’s yelling at your dad, “you took Janet to the drive in, didn’t you? I saw the popcorn in the back seat of the car. You’ve been sleeping with her again.” Janet was  my red-headed Brenda Star look-alike aunt, my mother’s sister-in-law.

That was the daily routine: Great day at school. The Inferno at home. Kids, of course, learn to make connections, as irrational as they may be.  When they are nurtured in one place and are dragged into the emotional muck in another, they begin to believe that, not only are there no guarantees in life, but that life cannot be trusted to offer any permanent security. They will always ask themselves, “when is the other shoe going to fall off?” And they  view happiness as an occasional blip on the machine of life, more often than not, set on disappointment. Continue reading

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The Chronic Expert and Advice-Giver

“My ten year-old spends too much time on computer games.”

“Well, what you need to do is to ration his time. If he goes over the limit, you reduce the appropriate time on his next session. That’s what I do.”

Now, keep in mind, this might be the advice of your best friend, someone you have known for most of your adult life. You want to keep the friendship, but you know that your friend loves to give advice, to seep into the quagmires of your marital problems, to find just the right herb or vitamin for your rash, to come up with “just the recipe” for your Thanksgiving dinner. Continue reading

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Friendship, A Transformational Narrative

Sociologists have given us pretty accurate stats about the majority of us marrying or having intimate relationships, endogamously—that is, inside of our class, race, religion, and/or economic status. Exogamy is the exception, not the rule. Even if we know someone from another culture in the workplace, most of us still go home to our homogeneous and segregated communities.

The notion of marrying or living inside one’s own heritage and culture was constantly reinforced when I was growing up in the 1950s, an era that was in denial about how deep the racial and ethnic divides actually were.

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