Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Granola family

We met them when our oldest was an infant. In fact, we all belonged to the same baby-sitting cooperative. Ed and Sue Granola (not their real name) were anti-war activists before there was an anti-war movement, namely during World War II. Ed was a conscientious objector during this war and was sent to work on a farm harvesting something or other.

They were the first, but not the last, people I ever met who ate granola, yogurt, and whole wheat bread.

There were four little granolas. You know how all enlightened parents say they don't care what their children do, whether they go to college or whatever, as long as they are happy? Most of us are lying: I believe sincerely that the road from the cradle to the grave leads straight through a 4-year baccalaureate program. The Granolas really did not care what their children chose to do: take ten years to finish college, join a commune or a far-left political movement, ride around New York City on a bicycle without a helmet.

The Granolas quietly backed all sorts of leftish movements. They boycotted Nestle because the company sold infant formula in Africa. Right after 9/11 we visited them and they had a "Not in Our Name" poster on their door.

As you might guess, politically we have nothing in common; nevertheless they are good friends. We have gone on vacation together when our children were small, and we made their house our headquarters whenever we visited New York. They had a large brownstone and always had people staying there: once on Thanksgiving there was a Buddhist monk in saffron robes and an exchange student from Ukraine at dinner.

They were not knuckleheads like most lefties: they were bright, read widely, and generally kept their opinions to themselves. Not that they were ashamed of them; there were other, more interesting things to talk about. They were fun to be with, relaxed, enjoyed most things, and were always reading interesting books and going to exotic places. The last time I saw them, Sue was busy with her garden and Ed was reading all the works of Balzac. We keep in touch, but don't see each other as frequently as we used to.

The only reason I write about them here is because friendships like ours across political lines are rare and becoming rarer, and civility is rarer still. My familly, for instance--lefties, the whole lot of them and totally intolerant of others' views. With these relatives I avoid politics entirely for fear of a knockdown dragout fight which would destroy family relationships.

There are other things in the world besides politics. Like shoes.

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