Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

With Friends Like These

with 7 comments

I apologize to my regular readership of about four humans and seventeen bots, who have probably come to expect at least some arrogance and cynicism in every post, for the forthcoming departure from the norm.

We just got back from one of the simplest celebrations we have ever attended – essentially a birthday party, but in fact a case study in the values that produce redemptive experiences.

I grew up in a highly stratified educational environment: each grade level at school kept to their own; it was vanishingly rare to fraternize with anyone older or younger, at least during school hours. Friendships therefore did not blossom between people of different ages, even if the older one deigned to acknowledge the younger’s presence.

This paradigm held true for most of my youth, though slightly less intensely during high school. Acquaintance was perfectly normal, but the actual cultivation of friendship with someone not in the same grade simply did not happen; it constituted such an anathema to the castes of the system that no one even dreamed of behaving otherwise. The wall of age played almost as important a role in defining the social environment as the economic litmus test: if you could afford the designer apparel of the moment, you were in, with dispensations for those with limited financial clout but abundant athletic ability.

Needless to say, I fit neither of those criteria (still don’t), and thus found my social circle limited not only to my grade level, but to my fellow outcasts within the grade level who made noises about not really caring what the popular kids were up to.

Fast forward to this evening. The close friends of the celebrant spanned an age range unheard of in the circles of friends I grew up knowing. The hugs, the kisses, the boundless, transparent joy demonstrated once and for all that not only is it possible to raise children without such social limitations; it borders on negligence not to actively foster such relationships.

It also helps that the community has the counterintuitive great fortune of limited economic means. The families invest not in portfolios, but in relationships, in people, in values. Lacking the latest gadgets and toys, three friends used their imaginations to create worlds of their own and grow bonds of friendship that have withstood intercontinental separation. The catering – all by friends and family – did not have to be fancy to suit the occasion. And the token elements of formality – dressier clothes; tablecloths; an actual schedule for the event – had presence just enough to lend a festive, significant aura to the occasion but no more, allowing the people, the emotions and the milestones to shine.

I remarked to my wife that I had never before seen a group of preteen and teenage girls with such blessed disregard for their chronological differences. Then, on the way home, a friend made the same observation – a friend who came of age in a vastly different place and time, Hungary of the 1950’s and 60’s, yet had the identical experience. Her remarks drove home (sorry) the special nature of the people involved.

Color me fortunate. And impressed. And quite happy to be here.

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Written by Thag

October 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

7 Responses

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  1. “it borders on negligence not to actively foster such relationships.”

    so your parents are to blame. ok.

    dan

    October 22, 2010 at 3:41 am

  2. And so are you. Seeing as how you’re so much older than I, why didn’t you invite me over?

    Thag

    October 22, 2010 at 6:50 am

    • because i had no friends. if i invited you over that would undercut by whole essence

      dan

      October 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      • …not to mention really creep out your sister. Even more. As if that were possible.

        Thag

        October 24, 2010 at 8:46 pm

  3. More like this, please. 🙂

    Eitan

    October 22, 2010 at 9:25 am

    • Your request has been submitted for processing. Please allow 7-10 business days for your request to be received, processed and rejected with hoots of derisive snorting.

      Thag

      October 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

  4. Thanks for a wondrful story. It makes me proud.

    An absent gransparent,

    David

    David Midlo

    October 25, 2010 at 5:29 pm


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