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For the last several years I've been lucky enough to enjoy a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner at the home of friends. I'm not the only orphan and stray who attends, and yesterday the guests included a man I'd met once before, who works for a legal organization bent on preventing "government overreach and abuse."
Is your spine starting to tingle?
I'm not one to argue for the sake of arguing, and on holidays I definitely strive to keep the peace. I can't remember how it all started, but at one point our hostess passionately pontificated on how the Constitution omits her as a woman, and while the conservative fellow seated next to me seemed sympathetic on the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe, he proceeded to reel off a host of Fox News talking points, from crime in the cities to people flooding over the border.
When he declared that gun control helped bring about the Holocaust, Ms. Keep-the-Peace couldn't keep her yap shut. I never thought I'd leap into a holiday fracas over politics, as so many have done around the dinner table over the past few years, but there I was. Participating in the new American holiday tradition.
But you know what made the whole scene more painful? I'd swear by the hem of Harvey Milk's sweater that this man is a closet case.
He's about 60, and single, and my friends are unaware of any past romantic attachments with women. My gaydar shrieked the first time I met him.
When he spoke of Seattle's downtown having grown terrifying due to the presence of so many homeless, addicts and mentally ill people on the streets, I actually agreed there's a problem. But my arguing that a host of reasons caused the problem fell on deaf ears. That part, I decided as I drove home later, wasn't important to him. These people scare him, so they're bad. Causes are irrelevant distractions to such a black and white thinker. So is empathy.
In his world, right and wrong are clearly delineated, and simplistic. He lives in a box. In a closet. He's a geometric marvel.
If he started letting in other thoughts—like perhaps that Honduran woman and her child have a reason for swimming across the Rio Grande, or Chris Evans is hot—would he fall apart? Or be reborn?
All I can say for certain is we were a lively bunch between dinner and dessert yesterday, and that whole notion of tryptophan in the turkey causing sleepiness is for the birds.