July 7th, 2006

Friends: who needs em?

Recently Dr. Helen, another psychoblogger, wrote this interesting essay exploring the topic of modern-day friendship.

It’s funny; we talk and think (and sing!) a lot about love–how to get it, how to keep it, what goes wrong with it, what it means to us–but not so much about friendship.

It’s a topic I’ve thought a lot about, though, perhaps because I’ve moved quite a bit in my life and most of my old friends live far away, and I’ve had to make new ones in new communities several times over. I’m one of those people to whom friends mean a great deal. Dr. Helen mentions that perhaps extroverts are more likely to be interested in friendship:

People affect people differently–if you are energized by people and feel pleasure in being with others (a typical extrovert), then friendships can be positive, but if you tend towards introversion, then people can sometimes exhaust you and make you feel blue instead of energized—perhaps more boundaries are needed to maintain your emotional health. However, even an introvert may need other people—even one person who you can talk with and share some of yourself in ways that feel safe.

I don’t think I’m a “typical” anything; I’m definitely some strange chimera, either an extroverted introvert or an introverted extrovert. That is, I’m very contemplative and have a need for solitude, but I also love being around people and talking to them. I don’t spill my guts easily, but I have a stable of friends to whom I can confide in a pinch or a crisis; perhaps six or seven of them (friends, not crises!), carefully gleaned and cultivated over time. And I try to follow the old adage, “To have a friend you must be one.” I’m a good listener, as well, and I think my friends know that.

Perhaps that’s why it was so painful for me to come out politically and have so much friction with people, and even to lose a couple of friends (including one long-term one) over that. But, for the most part, my friendships have weathered the storm, although not without some work.

Long ago, I used to think my need for friends, and the number of them that I had, was typical of most people (perhaps that’s a subset of the common misperception that whatever we happen to feel or want is what everyone feels or wants). But as I got older I realized that wasn’t so. One thing I learned as a general rule—although, of course, as with most rules, exceptions abound—is that women tend to have more friends than men. Or, at least, they tend to do different things with them; rather than be activity-oriented (golf, baseball, hunting), women’s friendships tend to be talk-oriented (problems, relationships, feelings).

I have some friends I’ve known since I was a little girl, and some I’ve kept since college. Some of the former might be people with whom, if I met them today, I wouldn’t be especially friendly. But the long history we share is worth a lot, and gives us a commonality that almost feels as though we’re relatives at this point.

The college friends are still some of the best I have; I think there are certain times in life that are especially ripe for forming fast and firm friendships, and that’s one of them. Another, especially for young mothers, is the period when they’re at home with the babies or the toddlers, and about to lose their minds if they don’t have some adult companionship; I’ve got quite a few friends from that period of life, as well.

The commonality is that these are times or transition and stress, and the bonds forged among those who share the experience can be very strong indeed. Even if they move away—and many of them have; as, in fact, have I—we talk on the phone, and when we meet, often the years fall away and we experience that wondrous cliché , “it’s as though we last saw each other just yesterday.”

I’ve lost some friends, too, and not just to politics: to death. That happens more and more as one grows older. Mercifully, it’s been few so far, but I know as time passes the numbers will inevitably increase. And two of my very best friends have had extremely life-threatening cancers, a very sobering and disturbing momento mori.

When I look back, I think some of my expectations about friendship were formed by my parents—no surprise, I suppose. They were both born, grew up, and lived their entire lives in a single tight-knit community (well, for my mother, not quite her whole life, since she moved from New York to New England in 2002 to be near me—but by that time, she was eighty-eight.)

Their community was an exceptionally social one, social in a way few are today. Not only did my parents grow up there, but almost everyone they knew did, as well—and they knew hundreds, if not thousands, of people. As a child, when I would walk down the street, complete strangers constantly recognized me from my powerful resemblance to my father and would come up to talk to me (another thing that wouldn’t happen today!), saying that they knew him and could tell I was his daughter. As a teenager, I wasn’t allowed to wear jeans when I went out into the community, because it would reflect badly on the family (and remember, my parents were liberals–oh, how the times they have a-changed!)

My parents, and all their friends, used to party. Not as in “get blasted,” but as in “have a lot of fun.” It was not unusual for them to get together with friends four or five times a week—card games, volunteer work, cake and coffee, and full-fledged parties. They often vacationed with from four to eight couples as a group. They took ballroom dancing lessons in their basements.

And they talked—oh, how they talked! As a child one of my strongest memories is of evenings spent up in my bedroom, trying to do my homework, while the siren song of loud and animated conversation wafted invitingly towards me.

Often, I would give in and go down there, to where the adults sat around the large dining room table, eating pastry, drinking coffee, and talking. Arguing, too, at times. Over local things and larger things, including politics and the world. Nor did they shun the opinions of a child; I was welcome at the table, and I was allowed speak up. My parents didn’t monitor my homework–perhaps because they knew I was conscientious enough and driven enough so that they didn’t have to–and so I was allowed to make my own judgments about how much time I would spend partaking of the conversation.

I always thought when I grew up I’d have friends like that. Alas, I don’t—that is, I don’t have a large group of friends who all know each other and get together regularly. They’re scattered, as my life has been scattered, as well; with different eras and varied venues, as well as different groups of friends and individual friends.

I’ve come to consider that what my parents had then was at least somewhat exceptional, even for the time, although it used to be far more common than now. Such a phenomenon seems very rare nowadays, especially in urban areas.

But I value it. And sometimes I think it set the tone for my attraction to blogging, which is a sort of virtual recreation of my parents’ coffee hours. And here I am, still speaking up.

So here, friends, have some coffee cake on me:

30 Responses to “Friends: who needs em?”

  1. karrde Says:

    I’m probably another strange case.

    A good number of my really good friends–the people I would feel safe confiding in–are men my father’s age. I have found myself in a similarly close relationship with one or two guys my own age, but that was after a concerted effort on my part to spend a significant amount of time with this group.

    My family background is a little different. My parents went out of their way to spend at least 4 nights a week at home, doing things with the children. Often, we would spend nights listening to our parents reading books.

    (This social pattern was strengthened by my parents teaching my siblings and I at home.)

    My parents did move in several social circles, and they were usually ones in which children and parents mixed freely.

    Along the way, I somehow gained a liking of (and respect for) adult company. Now that I’m an adult myself, it’s generally people older than I whom I choose to associate with.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    I’m not sure why, but Blogger comments were somehow allowed for this post, even though I’d turned that setting off and it was supposed to just allow Haloscan. We’ll see whether it happens again. I’ve closed Blogger comments for this post, so please comment here, through Haloscan.

  3. Nate Says:

    neo-neocon wrote: “I always thought when I grew up I’d have friends like that. Alas, I don’t–that is, I don’t have a large group of friends who all know each other and get together regularly.”

    The New York Times ran an article last Sunday on exactly this phenomenon. Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/weekinreview/02fountain.html

    ” Like “Bowling Alone,” the essay and, later, book by Robert D. Putnam, a public policy professor a Harvard, the Duke study suggested that a weakening of community connections is in part responsible for increasing social isolation. ”

    But, have you given a thought to the fact that neoconservative philosophy itself may be in no small measure responsible for this phenomenon? Neoconservativism celebrates the individual over society — individual liberty over collective freedoms. Isolation and breakdown of community could well be the inevitable result of so much emphasis on individualism.

  4. strcpy Says:

    “But, have you given a thought to the fact that neoconservative philosophy itself may be in no small measure responsible for this phenomenon?”

    Not really. Given that the areas of the country that are stronger in “neo-conservatisim” and “conservatism” tend to have stronger bonds. In fact, some of the areas that have the very strongest ideas of self reliant (and strongest in neo-con ideas) also have the strongest whole community ties (agriculture areas).

    If that were true places like the south east US would be known for inhospitality and not caring. Last I saw most people in large cities not only tend to think that way, but seem to be proud that they do and rural areas known for being nice.

    That’s OK – nothing wrong with that. Different people like different environments. I hate large cities, I have cousin that hates rural areas. We feel that way for much the same reasons (socially he hates what I love, I hate what he loves).

    I rather suspect that it has little to do with politics and more to do with population density. As far as I can tell there is no correlation, let alone causation, between the politics and friends. In fact, were you to go with my experience the *opposite* of what you say is true – however I don’t ascribe that to politics either.

    But if it makes you feel better, continue to think so.

  5. Noelle Says:

    I read an editorial about this recently–in what publication, I am not sure–but it took issue with the lack of “friends” and “”acquaintances” and the cultural shift to throwing around “love” at everyone…hugging everyone, even when you do not know them well–(I hate this). Ironic that so many people “love” so many other people, yet divorce, fight custody battles, etc. I grew up in a conservative family (in the ’80s) where the men* shook hands the girls got kisses on the cheek. To this day, I kind of cringe seeing men hug when they hardly know each other–that goes for women too. Women need not shake hands if they do not want, but simply acknowledge meeting someone, particularily a man. Formalities like this rarely exist anymore and it’s too bad. Instead of being lovey dovey to people you don’t know, we should try loving our families more. And keep friends, friends.

    *I have seen my dad hug only one other man–my brother–when he came home from Iraq…he hugged him quickly and said “you’re a hero.”

  6. YmarSakar Says:

    Lucy, read this for what why neo changed her politics


  7. Buck Says:

    I think there are certain times in life that are especially ripe for forming fast and firm friendships, and that’s one of them.

    The military is another such time/place. All three of my longest running friendships (35+ years) were formed in the Air Force. I’ll buy the “stress and transition” bits, but there’s also a large component of shared ideals, outlook, and experience that helps in forging the bonds of friendship. And even though we’re far apart geographically, when we do get together we experience that wondrous cliché , “it’s as though we last saw each other just yesterday.”

    It’s a beautiful thing, indeed.

  8. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    You know, Buck, it’s a weird thing. I was going to comment (in re military friendships) that it didn’t quite work out that way for me, given the circumstances of my service. And then I remembered that one of my long-term friends — exactly the sort you describe, who pick up where they left off no matter how many years have passed — was indeed one I met when we served together.

    It’s a strange thing, too — we have very little in common. What we do have is a firm, unspoken conviction about one another. I know without doubt that he’d risk himself to save me, and I’d do the same for him. It’s a very special sort of bond.


  9. Lucy Says:

    Thank you for the link Ymasaker, it was a very interesting read. I know this is not the right posting to repsond to it and i apologise for that. In my experience, the political make up of a person, as many things, comes from the parents. It is not until someone reaches the twenties that they become politicised, when they put away childish things and start a family, or just mature.
    Your ideals then come from peers and your environment and although you like to think that you have made an adult choice of ideaology, you have been influenced by friend, media, teachers etc.
    Many of my friends from University and College who rebelled against the system as we saw it have changed as well. As i worked in a left wing enviroment since leaving University and continued for almost 20 years, it seems ingrained into me. Maybe if i had moved out of the media i would of changed also but alot of them have been repoliticised back to the left after the Iraq War which is why i asked the question why did you move to the right when everyone else seemed to be moving to the left.

  10. strcpy Says:

    “why did you move to the right when everyone else seemed to be moving to the left.”

    Sorta curious – where do you get this from?

  11. Gina Cobb Says:

    Thanks for the coffee cake. It’s been such a pleasant visit this evening. Let me leave you with some virtual homemade jam!


    Seriously, I always enjoy my visits here. Thoughtful and full of heart.

  12. Ymar Says:

    Lucy jsut told you str, her friends went farther left after 9/11, so she must obvioulsy wonder why Neo went right.

    Lucy, since you’re responding to me, then this is the appropriate place, since the most recent post-thread is the one that can guarantee that I’ll get your message.

    As for Neo’s the mind is hard to change series, the link I gave you is only the beginning, the rest is on neo’s sidebar if you scroll down.

    The short answer to the question of why neo went right and others went left is because neo is actually a real true liberal that believes in human rights. Which means neo doesn’t care, within limits, as to whether force is used to bring human rights to the needy. Other people who called themselves “liberals” aren’t willing to do what is necessary or support the necessary people to bring liberty to the population of the earth, so obviously 9/11 would push them to react more instead of pro-action.

    A person has to be willing to do some things in the first place, otherwise no traumatic event can force them to do things they never will.

  13. strcpy Says:

    “Lucy jsut told you str, her friends went farther left after 9/11, so she must obvioulsy wonder why Neo went right.”

    That was how I read it, though I was trying to give the benefit of doubt that she didn’t believe “My circle of friends == most people in the US” (which she very much implied). Especially given that she says her circle is media (not exactly representative of the US as a whole for sure. I know I don’t poll my circle of friends to figure out what the US thinks – not gonna get a correct answer).

    At least so far, she didn’t seem to be in full derangement syndrome – maybe we had someone who has access to information that is different from mine. I had written a response that I decided assumed too much so I deleted it and posted what I did.

  14. Ymar Says:

    She didn’t say most people in the US, though. I took it to mean everyone else she knew about. It doesn’t even necessarily follow that Lucy only knows people in the US, either.

  15. strcpy Says:

    Her original post:

    “Maybe i missed it, but why did the events on 11/09 turn your political leanings to the right when most other people saw what such fundamentalist views can acheive and went to the left?”

    She did, in fact, say most people (though did not specify the US).

  16. strcpy Says:

    And, to note, she says *everyone else*, not everyone I know in her response to you. She has been consistent in saying everyone moved to the left from 9/11 and it’s aftermath.

    I was also giving the benefit of doubt that she wasn’t speaking for the whole world from her circle of friends. I assumed the US because it doesn’t make much sense to compare the US to Britain or another country.

  17. Lucy Says:

    Sorry for the confusion, I am actually living and working in England although i am scandanavian by birth. When i say “most people moevd to the left” i mean not only my circle of friends but the increase in sales of such things as the European left wing media newspapers and the dramatic rise in voters moving towards the Liberal Democrats (who got the most votes in decades here) as left wing parties did in Germany, Spain, Italy, Ukraine etc. I know that i am seeing through through the prism of a European and things that have happened here, but i meant everyone in a loose sense and not an actual everyone in the world sense.
    Sorry for the confusion.

  18. Ymirasakar Says:


    communication in writing is not about what people type, it is about what they mean. You can quibble about which words people used, but what really matters is what they mean. She did not mean everyone in the US, but you interpreted it as that, which means you were wrong and should correct that fact. Instead of quibbling about she said he said. Neither would I have said before that she was talking about everyone in Europe, there was not enough justification to believe that. I took her words to mean “people she knew” because that was the people moving to the Left, that she was talking about. There may be more, but there cannot be less. As for the greater European world she is refering to, I just take that to mean that she knows of them, as in is aware of them, not in actual friendship to them.

    While I believe Lucy’s clarification is useful and a good thing, she has nothing to be sorry for. If people have assumptions that turn out to be wrong, that’s their problem, not Lucy’s.

    Once you study philosophy, you start to check your logical premises and make sure that all your control variables are in place. Experimentally, this produces less confusion, false starts, and bad data. Such as str’s, your, mistaken impression that Lucy was refering to the US in some manner. Making a hypothesis when you don’t have all the data, is not a good idea.

    This about what is true and what is false. People can argue about he said she said, but I try to avoid that.

    I’ll quibble about one last thing however. The benefit of the doubt. I would have to disagree that someone can give someone else the benefit of the doubt about everyone in US = their friends when they’ve already decided that Lucy was talking about everyone else in the US. It makes little sense, to make such a judgement based on so little information.

    This is a minor matter, but it tells a bigger story. When people write on the internet, what happens is that what they read in other people’s writings is a reflection of their own thoughts. This is bad for communication. SO I’ve learned to read the signs and context, and try to take their meanings as they mean it, not as I see it as meaning to me.

    It is similar to how people can recognize a scrambled word in a sentence so long as the first and laster letters are the same and the length is the same. It’s context. It’s a skill. And some people have different gradations of that skill.

  19. strcpy Says:

    If this double posts, sorry. It gave me an error, claims it posted, but it doesn’t show up.

    I can only go by what is written. If we start trying to decode “what is meant” when what they said is fairly specific then you get into what you describe – allowing your own prejudices to change the meaning.

    This is especially true of people in the media (they are very well aware of thier words) – the only strong assumption I made (I had two – she meant everyone and it was the US) thing I was wrong on was the country specified, I assumed US because of the focus of this site. Since I have no dealings with UK politics I can not comment on how correct I would view that everyone shifted to the left, that is why I asked for clarification (from my study of rhetoric I realised that was an assumption I could not make and it drastically could change my outlook on what was said).

    As far as reading what she meant – you are substantially incorrect, she was not using her circle of friends to justify Europe moving to the left as you said. If by “Lucy jsut told you str, her friends went farther left after 9/11, so she must obvioulsy wonder why Neo went right” you actually meant something other than the standard definition of “friends” I have no idea how fine a context filter you need. Her response was pretty plain and to the point – Europe moved to the left based on votes and sales of leftist publications. You don’t need to create some wierd one off definition for “friends” to still be correct – you simply made a wrong assumption.

    I suppose we both lack enough study of philosophy and ability to read context – I too figured she meant what you said. Of course, that is what can happen when you answer for someone else, especially when you only have a few posts to go by.

    *sigh* I should have just waited for her answer instead of starting the “what if’s” and where my thought would lead depending on different answers. Everytime I do someone out there never seems to understand.

    As for the benefit of doubt, I meant I assumed she said something that made sense and she worded it strange (That is, I assumed she was smart enough to realise that “circle of friends” does not equal “everyone”, her “context” – as you use it – implied this but her actual wording did not). I was trying to think of different ideas that made sense to me – hence giving someone the benefit of doubt. It should be obvious, by the context of what I wrote, I knew those were assumptions and I asked for clarification and I was holding off judgement.

    It is interesting what you assume I thought and how strongly I thought it. But, I suppose I may be being to subtle for your finely tuned context filter. Maybe next time you will read what I said (other than the standard dyslexic difficulty in spelling I tend to try and be as clear as I can), not what you work up I meant.

  20. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    strcpy, I follow you exactly. I didn’t take Lucy’s comment to mean everyone in the US exhaustively, but I certainly took it to mean “people in general,” or “most people.” I thought there was an additional flavor that the move to the left after 9-11 was logically natural, and a move to the right counterintuitve and puzzling in some way.

    I thought that bizarre, but held up on it, wondering if I had a wrong impression, and if there were any numbers to discover what was happening at the time.

    Lucy’s further explanation of “media” and “European” cleared it up for me somewhat. Lucy belongs to the chattering classes of Western Europe, which were already an enormously liberal group. That they self-reinforced and could only interpret new events in terms of old ones is not surprizing. Those people did not turn left, they already were left, but now they started honking their horns at the other drivers. It feels like a bigger crowd.

    Lucy, several points. As a frequent visitor to Eastern Europe and the father of two Romanian sons, you have no idea how much it irks me to hear Western Europeans believe that they can summarize and speak for everyone else on the continent. You blithely refer to a European perspective and plow on with assumed leftism, as if the nations to the east did not really count. I doubt that you notice, because Western Europeans generally don’t, but it is a frequent blind spot.

    Secondly, let me assure you that in the US, and to a lesser extent in the UK, there was an immediate jolt to the right after 9-11. A few Americans, and more folks worldwide, adopted the “America was wearing short skirts and deserved it” arguments, and these got a lot of play in the press, but they provoked a lot of outrage. It became immediately clear that they were upset at America about other things, such as Kyoto and American brand names, and stupidly concluded that the Islamic hatred was based on much the same thing somehow. I point to 9-11 in retrospect as the point that the Leftists in the West went completely insane. Unable to absorb an event that completely disproved their world-view, they adopted clever but tortured logics to reframe what had happened. Unfortunately, they had a considerable audience in the MSM, and have unrelentingly hammered US for whatever it does since, with predictable effect.

    (End of Rant)

    Anyway, friends. Maybe if people could burn leaves again it would bring neighborhoods together.

    My wife and I have three other couples we have met with once/week for 30 years. We have had Bible studies, parties, work days, parental support groups, and a set of traditions that play out every year at various seasons and holidays. Our children have grown up in a sort of cousinage, which has been an enormous assist in their emotional development and place in the world. We often cannot believe our good fortune, as we know this is very rare these days.

  21. Ymar Says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as that, str. I know personally that I’ve been pretty consistent in understanding what people say, since they usually clarify so I can check. The times where I don’t get things, is because I start reading at the end of a conversation, and didn’t catch the beginning context. I did that just recently around here somewhere.

    I can’t say the same for anyone else, but if it is word choice they use to determine their beliefs, then they should realize that believing that someone is refering to the US when she did not use the US, is not consistent with the policy of using their words to judge their meaning.

    This goes back to the original subject I raised, of course.

    About the media, it’s about skill. Some people aren’t good at certain things, others are. The media is not good at reporting, anything, at all, including entertainment. That may have something to do with their biases, but most of the time, their incompetence can be attributed to their incompetence.

    I’m not against people asking for clarifications to determine whether one should or should not assume certain things. However, I remember that the question you asked wasn’t about the US. Only after I refered to her comments (in response to you), did you bring up the US aspect, but it was to me not Lucy. So that doesn’t make sense that you would ask her for clarification about whether your assumption of the US topic is correct or not, when you only mentioned the US topic to me. So, there you go, that’s the reasoning as I see it.
    As far as reading what she meant – you are substantially incorrect, she was not using her circle of friends to justify Europe moving to the left as you said.
    That’s not right. I was refering to Lucy’s thinking, in what she meant.

    I try to avoid making Lucy’s arguments for her, since she knows her arguments better than I do, or at least she knows them better than I do because I haven’t heard the majority of her reasoning. So I only described, in the past, what I took her words to mean from her perspective, as opposed to yours or mine.

    you actually meant something other than the standard definition of “friends” I have no idea how fine a context filter you need. Her response was pretty plain and to the point – Europe moved to the left based on votes and sales of leftist publications.

    You forgot the timeline str. My comment after Lucy’s response to your questions, was replying to your response to me, which was above Lucy’s. (that might seem a little confusing) It’s a timeline problem. What I said first, is actually refering to the past, before Lucy wrote her reply. I only read and replied to Lucy’s recent comments about Europe at the end somewhat.

    When I spoke about friends, that was the time when I hadn’t read Lucy’s reply and when Lucy had not made a reply yet about Europe. You got to remember the timeline variable.

    Things don’t mean the same thing when the time stamp on them changes.

  22. Ymar Says:

    You don’t create wierd one off definition for “friends” – you simply made a wrong assumption.

    Nice try, but you can’t get me on that, str. As lucy said here

    When i say “most people moevd to the left” i mean not only my circle of friends but the increase in

    Not “only” her circle of friends but also… You remember where I said that I would read people’s meanings, but that this meant that there might be more, but never less? I was quite right about her references to her friends, I did not make pre-judgements about what else she was talking about, I prefered to wait for information.

    So no, we are not both in the same situation.

    I don’t know whether you were holding off judgement or not. That’s why it is a quibble. Easily brought, easily lost, or in this case worth less than other stuff. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt question, because you did not want to make accusations.

    The problem, as close as I can isolate it, is not what you said, it is what you meant when you said it.

    I hate doing this meta think thing, cause it takes time. But anyways. Its when you said implication. That’s where I started suspecting something was wrong.

    At least so far, she didn’t seem to be in full derangement syndrome – maybe we had someone who has access to information that is different from mine.

    In conclusion, what was wrong with str’s thinking was that he focused too much on the negativity and went down the wrong track. Saying things like “benefit of the doubt”, which may be true, but still has a taint of saying someone may be “guilty”. Guilty of full derangement syndrome perhaps. This is not right, as demonstrated. I cannot explain why exactly I thought it was wrong, context is as much art as skill.

    Meta-think is thinking about thinking. In this case, I’m thinking about how str is thinking about Lucy’s thinking, in addition to what I’m thinking about str’s thinking when str thinks about Lucy. This is time consuming. People who just churn out stuff in 5 minutes, can’t do meta-thinking. But, since Assistant agrees with str, I can now instantly tell you what is wrong with his position. Assistant’s position is wrong because he read Lucy incorrectly. Lucy is not on the Left, at least, not in the sense I use it as . She hasn’t told us her personal political beliefs, but I have my suspicions.

    People who think alike and make the same mistakes, do follow each other exactly. This tends to have complications when they meet people who are different.

  23. Lucy Says:

    Maybe i should clarify my clarification, it really does need such a high level of debate.
    My original point was that ‘everyone else moved to the left’. Of course i did not speak for everyone in the World or everyone in Europe or even the UK, how could I? I only used the term ‘everyone else’ in the sentence because it is a less clumsy way of saying “Why did you move to the right when according to sales of leftist newspapers and new memberships of groups affilliated with politically left thinking, there was a large movement of people towards this side”. If i had known that it would distract from my original question i would of phrased it more clearly, i assummed that the context would be clear. A fault on my part.
    I did find it interesting that the assumption was made that i was American although the Internet is accessable world-wide.
    Less analysis needed and do not take everything quite so literally and look for hidden meanings. Take my use of the word ‘everyone’ as a way of making a long ugly sentence more palatable, it is all about context.

  24. Yehudit Says:

    My family memories are very like yours, Neo. My folks had a close circle of friends in Dallas, all Holocaust refugees like themselves, all in the schmata business like my dad. I remember seders and Thanksgiving dinners with 12-15 people, sometimes the kids would be at their own table, sometimes with the grownups. Also cocktail parties where I would get to come in for a little while before being sent to bed. We also hosted Jewish soldiers from Ft Hood for the High Holy Days and Passover, they would sleep on the couch.

    I really miss that level of home entertaining. I did some of it when I lived in Austin, but it was draining because too many guests didn’t do it back. (Damn hippies….) It’s much easier to do when you’re a couple than when you are single.

    Now in NYC it’s difficult because many people I know keep kosher, and i am not ready to kasher my kitchen so I can’t cook for them. Also of course my appartment is small as is every NY apartment unless you are a multimillionaire. Also single people in NYC are flighty, they like to keep their options open and you can’t tell if you invite them if they will show.

  25. Yehudit Says:

    Also my father and his brother got married around the same time. (Not to sisters, but my mother and my aunt both grew up in Vienna.) The two couples took many vacations together and each had 2 kids of similar ages, and the whole family is fairly small, so my parents and my brother and I were fairly tight with my uncle and aunt and our 2 cousins. My uncle and aunt liked to throw parties too.

    All the couples of that era played bridge. Some played mah-jongg and pinochle and canasta, but ALL played bridge. 🙂

  26. camojack Says:

    “Love, look at the two of us, strangers in many ways…”

  27. David Says:

    MikeZ..”many of the prisoners in the prison in which I worked had never in their entire lives eaten at a table with another person”…this is interesting. Did they eat at common tables in the prison? If so, how did they react to it?

  28. MikeZ Says:

    In one of Plato’s Dialogues, Socrates says “…. and friends have all things in common”.

    I suppose there are a lot more “things” nowadays, so it’s hard for any two people to have all things in common. It’s probably true, though, that friends have more than a few things in common.

    (The Dr Helen link doesn’t work as clicked – it has a leading “blogger.com” string.)

    We may well be more isolated these days. It’s certainly true in big cities, and even some smaller ones. People can go for years without knowing – or maybe even caring – who their neighbors are. We see every day that personal connections are being made not face-to-face, but over little tiny talkboxes. At least we’re not as bad as Japan, where kids grow up into their late teens without ever leaving their home. And in some cases, their room.

    There’s a piece by Theodore Dalrymple in FrontPage magazine, where he’s talking about his book “Our Culture: What’s Left of it”. Here’s one chilling point:

    “About half of British homes no longer have a dining table. People do not eat meals together – they graze, finding what they want in the fridge, and eating in a solitary fashion whenever they feel like it (which is usually often), irrespective of the other people in the household.

    This means that they never learn that eating is a social activity (many of the prisoners in the prison in which I worked had never in their entire lives eaten at a table with another person); …”

    (As an aside, you’ve probably noted early on that many conservatives are former liberals who have been mugged by reality.)

  29. Lucy Says:

    Maybe i missed it, but why did the events on 11/09 turn your political leanings to the right when most other people saw what such fundamentalist views can acheive and went to the left? And after seeing what has happened since, why have you not switched back!!

  30. Ron Says:

    Neo! Coffee Cake and no coffee? Tsk, tsk…

    Ah, well, the ultra-pasteurized cream of bloggy goodness will suffice…

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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