Friday, October 4, 2013

Black stones

I skipped another reunion. This one was with a bunch of old college friends, most of them turned acquaintances, some of them become strangers. They'd scheduled a golf game. I don't play golf, but I was willing to ride around on a golf cart, drink beer and pretend everything was the same as it was when golf was something we only played with our fathers, if we played at all.

In the old days, you could just about always pool your money with a couple of friends for a twelve pack or maybe share a bottle of something stronger --if you weren't to particular. Golf was expensive, even when it was cheap. It required memberships and greens fees. It cost gasoline just to get to the course. You had to rent a golf cart and buy all the right gear.

The game didn't seem complete unless you had a cooler full of beer or had a few drinks after all nine holes were played.

Back then, it was just more cost effective to sit somewhere and drink.

The golf game had been scheduled on a fraternity alumni Facebook page. We'd do it on Friday, the day before homecoming at the college.

I wasn't committed at first. Travel equals money: gas and tolls and hours lost at work. But I was encouraged to go. I've become something of a draft horse, a beast of burden so used to the routine of being in a specific place to do a specific thing every day I get uncomfortable if I don't make my rounds. I'm trying to rehabilitate myself, break the habit. The trip sounded so good and I'd missed those men and the years we spent together. I'd missed those breezy friendships.

The thing was the day before the drive I noticed there were conversations going on I was only seeing (at best) half of. Jokes were made. Boys were being boys. Only, the punchlines had been obscured. From what I could tell, at least one of the people I was coming to meet had blocked me, not just unfriended me, but blocked me.

It took me a while to figure out who that was and to remember how that happened.

Social media went ape shit after the Newtown Massacre. Pro gun propoganda and anti-government spin was suddenly everywhere. I'd never seen anything like it. Every morning, when I turned on Facebook or looked in the comments section of websites and news portals, there was deliberate and calculated lie after lie. It was frightening and no worse than when I saw it crop up among the people I thought I'd known.

One, in particular, had posted some really unbelievable stuff, but stuff that was easily debunked, which I did because it seemed embarrassing to me that anyone would want to be used as a pawn. He didn't care. He thought it was interesting, even though it was complete fiction and clearly designed to promote a specific agenda. He supported what the lie was promoting. That it was a lie, just didn't matter.

Things got heated and I got unfriended and then blocked.

If it bothered me, I don't remember. I remember being appalled.

So, it turns out he was one of the people in that particular group meeting for golf and he wasn't the only one I'd had some sort of run-in with. Another had flat-out ignored me for about a year after a disagreement and it occurred to me that maybe I didn't know what I was getting into.

There is no other way to put it: Many of the guys I went to school with, we don't agree on much. We barely did back in the day and over the years, it seems to me they've become so rigid and fearful.

I went the other way. I don't know why exactly. I had plenty of reason not to.

These men I knew once are good men. Some of them are heroes who've saved lives. 

But I would not burden them with my company. They have come so far to be there and I thought it better to let them play their game together in peace. I could stay home and drink alone.

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