It can take a lifetime to figure out what makes another person tick. Even someone you’ve known a since childhood. Despite the quirky persona, in spite of the long relationship, even though you’ve always felt a fondness for him. You never expected such from a friend. Especially not a person from your same parish, who grew up on the same block.
We all know the dude, the one whose consternation makes him stick out like a semi-conspicuous sore, if not arthritic, thumb. He’s camouflaged under an image, but getting to know him better sometimes shows the inner workings of his mind and an inconsistent attitude about humanity. He’s the guy from Sunday school class, the one who still goes to Bible study, the good ol’ guy. But he can still surprise me.
We take a road trip now and then. Once he offered, “You know I’m glad this term is finally almost over. It’s about time to ‘Make America Great Again.’ You know, like they say.”
“Who’s they?” I ask him, shaking my head in dismay.
“Oh, you know what I mean. New blood. Somebody in office more like you and me, brother,” he replies.
The furrow of my brow and head waggling back and forth surely affirms my disagreement. Just in case he doesn’t get it, I tell him, “Not me. I like the guy there just fine. Personally, I think this country is already great.”
Our paths went in different directions in adulthood, but he’s not a complete rube. We’ve known each other forever and agree on some matters but other times not so much. My friend must think I concur on the subject. He says, “We need a good, God-fearing man in there, I tell ya. You get me, right?”
I guffaw. “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on that one, buddy.” The interior of the car becomes awkwardly silent at that point.
Gallivanting down the Interstate, I turn away from the conversation at that particularly cringe-worthy moment and take in the leafless branches of spindly trees along the road. They reach up to pull the milky sun out from behind blurry clouds in what Johnny Cash must’ve surely meant by an “atomic sky.” My thoughts get mixed there among the haze, my mind grasping to forget the bromide from the passenger seat.
The granular landscape doesn’t save my senses from the rant’s residue.
I don’t want to be all judgy and pigeon hole my old friend as a total mossback. It’s hard not to when times like this reveal exactly how far apart our worldviews are, how fundamentally different we’ve become. I’m sure he senses the divide between us widening as much as I do.
As we reach our final destination the air between us yet hangs ominously heavy and still. He asks, “We on for dinner after church on Sunday?” I shrug. “Sure, man. See you then.”
*Studio 30+ writing prompt – quirky
Image: Natalie via Flickr