Thoughts from the ammo line [Updated With El Paso]

Ammo Grrrll has some advice: MAKE NEW FRIENDS; AND KEEP THE OLD. She writes

When I was a kid, my mother showed me her “Autograph Book” from when SHE was a kid. It wasn’t for autographs of famous people, though I imagine such signatures would have been much prized. The number of celebrities trundling through eastern South Dakota right on the border with Minnesota must have been vanishingly small in about 1931. No, an “autograph” book was kind of a cheap version of a high school yearbook. Your friends wrote clever or inspiring or religious messages and then signed their names.

So for my Mama Dorothy, there was “First comes love; then comes marriage; then comes Dottie with a baby carriage.” What a quaint old-fashioned progression, eh? A far cry from the updated versions: “First comes unprotected sex, then a baby, then get in line for some welfare gravy.” Or “Gender’s just a construct, pick your fave; then comes Dottie turned into Dave.”

Anyway, back to Mama’s book. There were assorted Bible verses from teachers (a firing offense today for sure) and a few items that passed for racy: “Dottie and Jim sitting in a tree – K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” (This was apparently the beginning of the Disqus algorithm where if you spelled things out – even though you were specifically warned not to do that — you thought you might not get banned.)

Some 30 years after Mama’s little book in the early 30’s, nobody even bothered rhyming. The most common sentiment in my early 60’s yearbooks, especially from people who didn’t know me well, was “Have a great summer; take it easy on the boys.”

Oh, rest assured, the boys of Alexandria were in no danger whatsoever from a bookish nerd who had to work the whole summer, every summer, in her father’s drugstore. Not that I am still bitter. Because holding a grudge for 50 years would be not only unseemly, and ungrateful, but against both Jewish and Christian doctrine.

But my favorite saying in Mama’s little book, and one I have always taken to heart, was “Make new friends; but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

I had known my oldest friend since we were six. I have known my second-oldest friends (twins) since age 14. My problem is that I have “kept” many old Gold Friends who are no longer with us, including two of the three I just mentioned. I open up my phone’s address book and say, “I see dead people.” But I’ll be darned if I can just delete those precious names, often with accompanying pictures. So there they all sit – dozens of deceased friends and relatives – making me feel less abandoned and considerably more popular. And quite often, sad.

I hear from many sorrowful people that SOME of their “friends” have left them by “unfriending” them on various social media outlets. I’m still laughing over the fact that Jemele Hill “unfriended” all her “white friends” on Election Night when it was obvious — before voting took a little break — that Trump was going to win again. Boy, those must have been some valuable friendships those white people had with that racist little hater.

Since I am on no social media besides email, that is not an issue for me. Despite my rather embarrassing journey from one end of the political spectrum to the other and back again – and YES, I AM working on that saga, quit nagging! — I have not been “unfriended” deliberately by anybody. Certainly, I have several sets of friends and relatives with whom I have just kind of lost contact, and others with whom I cannot discuss politics. But the world is a lot more than just politics, however we political junkies may obsess about it.

Haha – remember those halcyon days of yore when you weren’t even SUPPOSED to discuss “sex, religion, or politics” in polite company, lest you offend someone? Why, even as recently as 2010 when we moved to The Dusty Little Village and started socializing, people were quite circumspect about politics until they had some idea of the lay of the land. And so, we collect little “clues,” don’t we? A Vegan? Drives a Prius? California license plate? “Co-Existence” bumper sticker on Prius? Chances are good, though not 100 percent, that there is a Democrat.

NRA Lifetime Member decal on a Ford F150 pickup? Chances are good, yeah, okay, CLOSE to 100 percent, that within that pickup is the beating heart of a conservative.

The exception to that political reticence was when there was a gathering of people who were already sure how you OBVIOUSLY must think and vote. Around Chanukah our first year, there was a potluck at our clubhouse of the few dozen Jewish people who live here. It was midway through the Lightbringer’s first term, two years before his re-election. People were not the least bit reluctant to express very loud and vocal hopes for his re-election. Everybody was onboard with just three exceptions – the American Indian man who was dating one of the Jewish ladies, and Susan and Joe, who weren’t even Ammo Grrrll and Max Cossack yet!!

If you thought Moses’s parting of the Red Sea (with G-d’s help!) was impressive, you should have seen that gathering make a space for the contrarian weirdos. In truth, it probably would have been much more contentious if it had been 20:18 instead of 35:3. We were just sort of dismissed as pleasant crazies and people carried on as if we hadn’t spoken up.

The whole topic of Friendship has always interested me: how do we figure out whom to befriend? How do we KNOW what people we can trust as we expose our true selves? And especially, how the heck do we know at age 6 or age 14 who we will still love at 75?

I think it is very much like falling in love, only (obviously) without the sexual attraction aspect. And then, like with a long-term marriage, we accumulate a history of fun times together and mutual support for the tough times. We also develop a short-hand way of communication, with a thousand “code words” to trigger memories of shared experiences. With Carol, my late friend from age 6, we could say “Cheese for sale” and crack up at the thought of a game we played in my basement wherein we were Heidi-like orphans, who were on our own and had to sell cheese to survive. (We had no television and were very imaginative little girls.) Mother would buy back her own Velveeta and Daddy would say, “Go outside, girls.”

Or to Bonnie, my remaining twin bestie, I could say “Marty Robbins” and she would immediately think of the old vinyl album of Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads we played perhaps 200 times in her basement. I think together we owned only about a dozen LPs. The $1.98 to purchase an LP didn’t just fall from sky in 1962!

To make a friend, we have to make ourselves vulnerable. Unless it’s just going to be a buddy that you bowl with or a gal to shoe-shop with, we have to make room for friends in our busy lives and in our hearts. And we have to share the “real” person that we are. When those confidences are betrayed, even in small ways, it hurts much more than when an “enemy” wounds us. I think that’s why we loathe “RINOS” even more than leftists. We are on guard with leftists, we know who they are and what they intend.

When we supported John McCain and gave him money and worked for him, he lost with barely a fight. Then, when Trump had the audacity and the capacity to win when McCain could not, he stood there as the decisive vote against repealing ObamaCare just to deny Trump a victory. It felt like a dagger in the heart.

I have been blessed my whole life with wonderful friends. Since the start of this column in 2014 (yikes), I have accumulated several dozen more treasured friends, wonderful people — smart, funny, kind. Not to replace the ones who have passed on – nobody can replace them – but to make the pain of their loss less acute.

At this stage of life, we don’t have time for a long “courtship” to get to know someone. We have to cut right to the chase and be willing to let our guard down much sooner. So be it. What’s the worst that could happen? To all my new “silver” friends: thank you. If it’s too late to “all live together in a Yellow Submarine,” let’s at least reach out regularly on whatever technological device you think I can still master, okay? (I recommend two Dixie cups and a string.)

JOHN adds: I rarely have an urge to comment on Ammo Gr’s columns, but her reference to Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads is too tempting to pass up. I’m guessing that most of our readers remember Robbins’ classic “El Paso,” and if you do, you will appreciate hearing it one more time. And if this means nothing to you, you are in for a treat–one of the classic country western songs of all time. When I was a kid, we all agreed that “El Paso” was the standard that would never be surpassed. We may have been right:

Am I wrong to think that it was a better time?

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.