When you get older, you get wiser.
You look at your friends and family with more honest eyes. Maybe even see yourself more honestly. They have flaws. You have flaws.
As I grew older, I discovered that Uncle Charlie isn’t perfect after all. Mom and dad are merely mortals. And the friends that you would die for…well, now you would need some time to think it over before falling on that hand grenade.
So when somebody, say a friend of my wife, comes at me with a list of probing questions regarding one of my bachelor buddies, my knees knock and I start shaking. The situation is loaded with danger for me because I am a seasoned citizen and see my friends for what they are. Others may not be ready for the truth.
I found myself in such a situation recently. My wife and I had attended a charity wine and food tasting the night before. It was jammed with people sipping and munching in a huge hall. I don’t like crowds. And I hate wine and food tastings because I never get enough of either, even if I confiscate most of my wife’s drink tickets and ask for triple portions on the Barbie size food plates. My wife probably spent enough on the tickets to get us the best dinner (delivered room service) at a five star Hotel. But my lot in life is to suffer in silence.
The next morning my wife hands the phone to me, “It’s Kelly. She wants the low-down on Don.” Don is my long-time buddy. Kelly is my wife’s dear friend looking for long term companionship. I shook my head “NO” and waved her off.
“Why can’t you give her the lowdown on Don? He’s your friend.”
“But, I am busy, just now I was going to bake a loaf of Michetta, the typical peasant bread of Bologna.”
“Give it a rest, Betty Crocker and talk to her about Don.”
My name is not Betty Crocker.
“Hello,” I say into the phone using my most nonchalant tone.
“What kind of man is Don?” asks Kelly.
“When you get down to the bones and teeth?”
“No. His personality. What kind of a guy is he?”
Don and Kelly met and hit it off last night at the aforementioned wine tasting. I had observed Don and the Kelly taking sips out of each other’s wine glass last night. Premature familiarity to my old fashioned way of thinking.
“You and he talked last night. Don is pretty much ‘what you see is what you get’”.
“You know what I mean. Is he a good man?” Kelly kept drilling.
“No felony convictions.”
My obtuse remarks were a ploy to get time to think. My mind races through options. If I give Don a 100% endorsement and this budding relationship blooms and then goes south because Don is not good at relationships, then I will be held responsible, discredited as a liar. And shortly thereafter, I will suffer penalties enforced by my wife who is slow to forgive anyone who shames her to friends.
But if I demean Don and mention his last 10 (maybe 20) failed relationships, then Kelly will snub him and I will be viewed as a traitor to my good friend. My only true friend who buys all the pay-for-view boxing matches and invites me over. So what I need is to make a recommendation of Don that has several weasel-out provisions so when Don disappoints Kelly, he is not placed on my wife’s list of “FRIENDS WE BOYCOTT UNTIL THEY WISE UP.”
“Don’s got a nice home up on the South Hill with a 52 inch HD TV.”
“What about his personality?” Kelly seems to be the no-nonsense type
“He listens to meditation tapes,” I advise. Although technically he hasn’t got around to it yet. Don got them as a gift from a sensitive former girlfriend whom he ditched.
“Oh? Is he religious?”
“Not in a Sunday kind of way.”
“Not so’s you’d notice. However, he was divorced one time, years ago. And I kind of recall another time, years before that.”
“Does he drink a lot?”
“Not so’s you’d notice. Not me anyway.”
“You’re wife says that you aren’t very aware of other people?”
“Sadly, that’s true. I just found out that Jude Law is a person.”
“Can I come over and talk with you about this?”
“Bad time for me, I’m struggling right now, preparing a turducken for dinner.”
“Does Don like to cook?”
“Not so’s you’d notice.”
“You haven’t given me much information.”
I think “Perfect!” But I don’t say it out loud. I’ve walked that thin line.
“Can you put your wife back on the phone?”
I handed the receiver back to my lovely life partner and headed out the door. I am on the way to the grocery story to purchase a turkey, a duck and a chicken. Let the stone wall stand.
“This above all: to thine ownself be true.” The Thursday night fight is on pay-for-view.
When you get older, you get wiser.