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Dating Across Political Lines

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

I recently read an article where a guy said that 90 percent of females he encounters in DC are very liberal and seem to view conservative men as walking deal-breakers. When I was in the dating game (nearly 20 years ago before my current relationship), I dated men whose liberal views aligned with mine – except for two who were conservative Republicans.

Back then, I did not discriminate. If I liked a guy who asked me out, I’d date him. My radar has honed over the years, and I am more political than I’ve ever been. In these polarizing and contentious times, for the sake of my peace of mind, if I were still in the game, I would not be inclined to date across party lines. People who date across the political divide can make a relationship work – if they are willing to put in the work. I’m not. It is sometimes difficult enough to maintain a platonic friendship across party lines.

My first Republican flame was a speechwriter for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger (is one among others) to whom the quote above is ascribed. I began dating the speechwriter on the rebound, following a breakup with my then-boyfriend. After a few dates, I found that I liked the conservative guy. He was a perfect gentleman. He was smart, had a sense of humor, and I enjoyed his company. However, there were a couple of hurdles that intruded in our relationship.

Once, when we were out together, while my date was busy buying tickets I glanced at two black men who were standing about 12 feet away. I guess they were in their late 20s or early 30s. I couldn’t avoid noticing the hateful expression on the face of the one with his arms crossed whose eyes were throwing darts at me. He and the guy who was with him were both wearing black berets. While he was giving me the cold stare-down, I overheard some of his snide comment to the fellow standing beside him. “That sister other there dating a white guy. Ought to be ashamed.” That was in the I’m-black-and-I’m-proud 1970s. Society was moving toward being racially progressive on interracial relationships, but it had not progressed to where it is now. For the next few seconds, I ignored him, until my date and I continued on our way and they went theirs.

Our second tension was more personal. It occurred one evening while we were watching an episode of Roots. The character Kizzy’s master was selling her away from her family for something that she did (I don’t remember what it was) and boyfriend commented that some masters were good to their slaves. Well, Jumping Jehoshaphat! Whether that statement was true or not wasn’t the issue. It was simply the wrong thing said at the right time. Our argument that occurred as a result of that episode wasn’t what led to our break up. We eventually smoothed things over, but I decided to get back with the guy that I broke up with before I got involved with the speechwriter.

The other Republican I dated was black like me. But if you heard him talking smack and couldn’t see him, you wouldn’t know it. He was in the entertainment business and very political. It was difficult enough trying to stomach his political views, but I wholeheartedly resent people who constantly berate members of their own racial group. His arrogance wore me down. It doesn’t matter if the intra-racial bashing is for someone’s job, their political party or because they are blinded by self-hate, in my opinion, constantly stereotyping and denigrating your own racial group does nothing to enhance your image. It makes you look bad. I don’t care whether your viewpoint is due to envy, feelings of superiority or because you think that you are economically and socially better off than other people. Don’t let it go to your head. Life is like a giant sliding board. You can be up at the top one day and down on the ground the next. It doesn’t matter if someone is high on the corporate ladder or picking up trash on the street if a person is out here trying to make an honest living then don’t negate him or her. Actions and deeds aside, as human beings, none of us is better than the other. I strongly dislike seeing black people put other black people down and I view racial animosity with more disdain than partisan animosity. My compassion compass with Republican #2 was not in synch. Thankfully, that pseudo-relationship crashed and burned.

When it comes to mixed-partisan relationships, evidence abounds that Democrats and Republicans have a hard time making relationships work. To the contrary, a high-profile couple, political strategist James Carville and his wife, media personality Mary Matalin are one example of an inter-political relationship that is working. According to USNews.com Martin had this to say about that, “That we disagree on policy was tough, but it’s not one of those deal-breakers. We’re very practical in our local politics, and we’re philosophically opposed on the role and scope of government, but we love each other.”

 

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A Red Hook Resident Gives a Shout-out to Old Timers Day

The following post was written by life-long Red Hook resident and Guest Author, Vanessa Staton.

 

Current and former tenants of Red Hook will come to the northwestern Brooklyn, NY, neighborhood from all over the country this weekend to enjoy the 34th annual Old Timers Day.

Red Hook is the site of the Red Hook Houses, the largest public housing development in Brooklyn. Groundbreaking for the NYCHA property of 27, two and six-story buildings, occurred on July 17, 1938. The first tenants took occupancy following completion of construction in June 1939. The area was named for its red clay soil and the hook shape of its peninsular corner of Brooklyn that projects into the East River.

Red Hook Houses is the largest public housing development in Brooklyn. The property contains several parks; Old Timers Day activities take place at many of them. This year’s affair will include events at Wine Park and Coffey Park.

Friday is usually the Old Timers Day kid’s time. The children of Red Hook enjoy pleasurable activities and games and have the opportunity to win prizes.

This year, Saturday’s activities took place at Wine Park. In addition to other events, it included an evening for the adults. White apparel was the color of the evening.

Sunday’s main event started at noon today at Coffey Park. As usual, there is plenty of food to feast on and music provided by a DJ and live band.

Affinity Health and other vendors and services will be available, offering something for all.

Old Timers Day is always highly anticipated by current and former Red Hook residents. Some even schedule their vacations around the date. Everyone enjoys coming together to reminisce about old times and delight in some face-time with old friends and neighbors.

 

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I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Who hasn’t heard the trendy expression, “I heard it through the grapevine?” Reportedly, the phrase originated in the U.S. and dates back to the mid-1800s, before the Civil War. Anyone with half-a-brain knows that the saying has nothing to do with actual grapes or grapevines.

In grade school, we played a game called pass-it-on. You may have played it, too. Supposedly, it was to improve listening skills. One person starts the game by thinking of a short phrase. He or she then whispers the phrase into the ear of another person. That person whispers it to the next person and so on. The last person says aloud what they heard whispered. Often it is nothing like what was said by the first person.

Hearing something on the grapevine could be said to be the adult version of pass-it-on. We get second and third-hand information through an informal means of communication instead of getting it directly from the source. Just like in the elementary school game passing the info along the grapevine could possibility garble the facts, making them vicious gossip, ridiculous, or it could be true.

Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye found the grapevine so revealing that they sang about it.

And I think that some of you would agree that the only thing more intriguing than receiving juicy information about a friend or neighbor is learning what’s circulating on the family grapevine.

From the time I was old enough to eavesdrop, on adult conversations, I learned – little to naught from the family grapevine. (Gotcha’ didn’t I?) Now that I’m older, I know that some of my immediate and extended family members hold on to trivial information like it is classified “top secret and confidential” by the federal government. It’s possible that if your close relatives, even your cousin or your cousin’s cousin tells you about a family incident of which you previously knew nothing, she or he heard it on the grapevine and could hardly wait to share the news. What was learned could be a complete fabrication or there might be a smidgen of truth to it.

For those lacking half-a-brain, I’ll give you an example of hearing something on the grapevine. Understand that any similarities in names to people who you may know is strictly coincidental. Meaning, unless someone has a secret nickname that I don’t know about, I’ve made up all of the names in the disclosure below to protect the guilty.

My much younger friend, I’ll call her Bea, shared this with me. Watching Bea, always the drama queen, tell her version of the story was like having a front-row seat at a theater.

“Girl,” she said, flinging one hand in the air. “Iris told Hazel Nutt, Hazel Nutt told June Bugg, June Bugg told Anal, Anal told Lilly Pond, Lilly Pond told Hyball, and Hyball told me that Judeene’s second cousin’s four-year-old son Bobo used his tablet to spell a four-letter word. And the word was not fork. You hear what I’m saying?”

She continued. “No big deal, right? Word is that one day while his mama was at work little Bobo was playing for the first time with Rosebud, the eight-year-old daughter of his daddy’s ex (she loudly clears her throat) girlfriend. They were visiting the girlfriend’s house. When the adults went into another room, Rosebud taught Bobo how to spell the word on his tablet. Later that evening, when he was back home, Bobo pulled his tablet from his backpack and proudly showed his mama the new word he had learned that day.

In the middle of saying, ‘Oh, how nic…’ Bobo’s mama stopped mid-sentence and asked her son where he learned that word. When he told her, ‘At Mimi’s house.’ His mama looked at her husband, who was sitting on the sofa and turning 50 shades of dark. Then, she cocked her head to one side, narrowed her eyes and sounding like the little girl in The Exorcist said to him, ‘Mimi?’ Need I continue? Girl, now don’t you tell nobody that I told you this, ‘cause you ain’t heard it from me.”

But I did tell. And I just told all of you. That, my friends, is how a story is carried along – and is heard – on the grapevine.

 

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Minding Manners

When I was a child, my mother taught me that whenever anyone gave me a gift, it was imperative to thank the person for it. If the gift was a face-to-face delivery, a heartfelt thank you might suffice. But if someone took the time to mail me a gift, the least I could do would be to write them a note or send a card expressing my gratitude. I do that to this day.    

I taught that practice of expressing gratitude to my children. And I’ve noticed that many – although not all – people I know who are in my age group were also taught that courtesy while growing up or learned it after they were grown. But from Generation X, the Millennials, Gen Z and on down the line, the courtesy of expressing gratitude in return for a gift, service, or favor is vanishing faster than landline phones.

Are people just out-and-out thoughtless or do they take it for granted that courtesy requires no reciprocal action?

Surely, I am not the only one who remembers that, years ago, if you sent someone a birthday card, a wedding or baby shower present, or even a sympathy card, especially if the card contained a monetary gift, we’d usually receive a thank you card in return. It was rare not to hear anything from the recipient, and frankly, it was considered downright rude. Today count yourself lucky if someone acknowledges having received your gift without you having to ask them if they got it. As I see it, the lack of good manners is just another sign of deteriorating behavior in a society that becomes more uncivil every day.

Lest you make the wrong assumption, I don’t give gifts merely for someone to thank me in return. I do it because either I like the person or want to do something nice for them to recognize a special occasion. But I dislike feeling that my kindness is taken for granted. An acknowledgment is not only the right thing to do, its common courtesy. Unfortunately, I must agree with Whoopi’s implication that we are veering away from a do-right society.

Granted, things get lost in the mail, and packages get stolen off of people’s front porch. But if you live close enough for me to bring an envelope to your home, give it to one of your family members, or slip it beneath your door, then that destroys the “lost mail” defense. And if you do nothing more than holler across the street when you see me, “Hey, I got it!” or give me a thumbs up signal, I might consider that action a bit uncouth, but no acknowledgment is undeniably rude.

The practice of saying thank you is so deep-rooted in me that – you can bank on this – if I receive a gift from someone and do not thank them, then I am either incapacitated or dead.

It’s embarrassing to me to call someone to ask if they received a gift I sent. That’s almost as bad as lending someone something and after months of waiting to have to ask for it back. I can easily overlook giving away a couple of eggs or a cup of sugar, insignificant things like that. Most likely, I’ll say, “Keep it.” But when it comes to lending a household item, let’s say a punch bowl, a hammer, even a book (especially a book) I want it back. It was a loan, not a gift. Judge Judy would attest to that. And wasn’t it Shakespeare who wrote: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be?” But that’s another subject for another day.

Several months ago, I sent a sympathy card containing a check to a long-time neighbor after I learned that her mother had recently died. She didn’t phone or send a thank you note. I’ve seen her in passing at least three times since then and has she ever said thank you? Can a paper doll walk a runway?

We are all busy, so being too busy to say thank you is a lousy excuse, and I’m sure that by now you realize that thoughtless thanklessness of people is one of my peeves. Whether someone holds a door for you or shows kindness in some other way, the least you can do is say thank you. Expressing gratitude is more than just a social nicety it shows civility and reassures others that their gesture was appreciated. That being said – I appreciate you taking the time to read my rant and patronize this blog. Thank you!

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Assessing Easter Sunday

Happy Easter friends.

If you are a churchgoer, enjoy the service. I am spiritual but stopped going to church long ago. However, on Easter Sunday, I often reflect on how it was when my siblings and I were children.

From the time I turned six years old and my sister four, she and I were required to go to Sunday school nearly every Sunday and to church almost as often. Until they grew older, my younger brothers were too little to make the block-long walk with us, so they stayed at home with mom and dad except on occasions when our entire family went to church.

I remember many things about those childhood Easter weekends like mom helping us color eggs and putting them in straw baskets lined with green cellophane grass. Nestling in the grass were chocolate bunnies, multi-colored jelly beans, and yellow marshmallow Peeps chicks. Back then, Easter was the Sunday that I looked forward to more than any other Sunday because I knew that my sister and I would be wearing brand new outfits to church. Cute frilly polyester dresses, fresh, bright white bobby socks, and black patent leather shoes. One year mother bought us pretty matching topper jackets. Mine was pink, and I think my sister’s was white or maybe hers was pink too. Some, but not many details have faded from memory.

As I matured, I realized that children were not the only ones who looked forward to showing off their Easter clothes. Many of the adult parishioners didn’t consider that Easter Sunday was about the resurrection or the message either, it was all about the fashions. People who didn’t go to church all year long showed up on Easter Sunday dressed to the nines, well many did.

Old Mr. John was an exception. The neighborhood drunk lived upstairs in the same apartment building where we lived. One Easter Sunday morning he followed his wife outside. While he hung back, she broadcasted to every neighbor they passed that they were heading to church. A rarity. Mr. John was wearing a battered, wide-brimmed Porkpie hat, probably reserved for attending funerals; a wrinkled, brown pin-striped suit that looked like he had slept in it and overturned brown shoes. An apparent reluctant churchgoer, his scrawny body was tagging a few inches behind his obese wife who was strutting proudly down the street, nearly bursting at the seams in a fitted fuchsia-colored dress. Perched on her head was a huge white hat with so many brown feathers attached to one side that it looked like a sparrow the size of an eagle was clinging there for dear life. Some sights you can’t unsee nor forget.

One day I decided that even if I went to church year round (which I didn’t, but even if I did), I would never go on Easter Sunday. I could hold a one-on-one session with God, as I usually do any day of the week; besides my absence would leave a seat for one of the Easter Sunday only worshipers who will crowd the pews.

There are some things that I miss about my church going days. Things like singing in the junior choir as a teen, watching a minister deliver a rousing sermon while using his white handkerchief to wipe the sweat running down his chocolate face like a melting fudge sickle, and the good, foot-stomping, hand clapping gospel music that seems to shake the rafters and open cracks in the wall.

These days, I need only to look out of my window at some of the churchgoers on Easter Sunday, especially the elder ones, decked out in their Easter hats and fresh outfits to know that there is truth to the proverb, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

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