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The Villages
Thursday, June 16, 2022

We can always find something that can bring us together

To the Editor:

Although there seems to be an excess of invective and hostility on these pages, I for one am not persuaded that the level of it in this country is any worse today than it was in 1760, 1860, or 1960.
Furthermore, interpersonal rancor and bitterness over the most minor of issues has existed for at least 6,000 years (as long as “civilization”) and my guess it will last another 6,000, if we survive.
But is it hopeless? Before you answer I want to tell you about my buddy Rocco and me.
First, our differences.
Well, there’s really only one, the MAGA hat he has stapled to his skull, that thick, ossified skull which I find impossible to penetrate.
I’ve offered to buy him an MRGA cap (Make Russia Great Again) instead, but he’s not interested. Turns out he does have a soft spot in his heart for Ukrainians and is rethinking his hero’s relationship to Putin.
But then, the other day, he springs this on me: Trump actually won 90% of the popular vote in 2020.
When I asked him how he figured that out he says: “It’s common sense.”
But let’s talk instead about why we hang out together:
• We both grew up in the 50s.
• We both take a bunch of medications.
• We’ve both had a bunch of operations.
• We each spent a year in Vietnam. However, when someone thanks him for his service he puffs like a peacock and says, “You’re welcome!” whereas I respond with, “I was drafted.”
• We’re divorced. Our kids call once in a while; grandkids hardly ever; ex-wives never ever. And so we spend our evenings looking for love — or what passes for love nowadays — at City Fire, mostly, except when Johnny Wild and The Delights are performing. Then we go there, not so much for Johnny as for the Delights, those awfully pretty girls in their colorful flared skirts and stiff crinoline petticoats.
Here’s the kicker, though, that which really unites us: nicotine. We’re fanatics when it comes to anti-smoking, chewing, and vaping, both of us having lost our fathers at an early age to Camels.
So when we find ourselves about to duke it out over immigration or taxes or inflation we remind each other of when everybody smoked, even the doctors, cigarettes tangling from their lips during a physical exam as they looked in your ears, up your nose, and down your throat and pants.
In other words, we have a common enemy. We raise our lagers — not in a toast but in a curse to R.J. Reynolds and all it stands for.
We believe our technique can be used by anyone, of any gender, religion, affiliation, and age: You just have to find things you agree on. Powerful things. Passionate things. Things not politics or religion.
Because, if you think about it, they’re the same.

Michael Brodin
Village of Sunset Pointe


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