Opinion | Biff America: Elegant violence and buffed dudes
My father once said seeing his youngest son grow up to be a liberal made him wish birth control was retroactive. My dad’s and my political arguments began long before I reached voting age. We argued about Vietnam, rock ‘n’ roll, the length of my hair. He thought Cassius Clay was a draft dodger. I thought Mohamed Ali was an American hero.
Our arguments were a mix of passion, humor and sarcasm. It was not lost on me that my high mindedness was made possible, in part, by the home he provided.
On the eve of the first presidential election in which I could vote, he called and asked if I needed a ride to the polls. I had left home months before and did not own a working vehicle. On the way to the polls, I mentioned that since I was going to cast my ballot for McGovern and he Nixon, we would cancel each other out and perhaps we should just go to lunch instead — on him. He said many had sacrificed for us to have that privilege, and we owed it to them to show up. We walked into the polling place side by side, him wearing a shirt and tie, me wearing boots and tie-dye. We cast our ballots, and he took me to lunch.
I miss those days when politics were partisan but not personal, and disagreements were not all disagreeable.
I do believe that it is the obligation of all of us to be informed, though lately paying attention is hurtful. This fall, for me in particular, was painful. I honestly can’t even remember the issues of the day, but the news was full of nasty back and forth by those who didn’t even bother to lie convincingly.
I found an antidote in the most unlikely places: two beautiful male bodies, and young gals hitting each other.
For years, I’ve been meaning to go watch our local high school girls’ rugby team play. I have several friends whose daughters play or have played in a program that is among the best in the state and even highly ranked on a national level. I know very little about the sport, so I brought along a friend who knew even less.
On the way to pick him up, I almost ran over two tough looking dudes who probably could kick my butt. They both wore tight T-shirts and sported military-style haircuts. The two of them stepped out from behind a parked car to cross the street, and I had to brake quickly to avoid them. It was not because they were young, buff and tough looking that I rolled down my window and apologized; I could have easily outrun them in my truck.
“Hey guys, I’m sorry I came up on you too fast. I didn’t see you until the last second.” The smaller of the two (about 30 pounds of muscles heavier than me) smiled and said, “No problem. We should have looked first.”
It wasn’t until they walked away that I noticed they were holding hands.
Having avoided hitting almost 500 pound of human beef on the hoof, which surely would have damaged my front end, we headed to the rugby match. It wasn’t necessary for me to understand the sport of woman’s rugby to feel vicarious pain. There were gals of all shapes, sizes and colors running, tackling and otherwise doing stuff that would cripple me.
That’s when it hit me (not literally). Despite the recent setbacks of incivility and extremism, America has come a long way. And to be clear, I am not talking about one party or the other, but rather how we can’t seem to stake a policy claim without making it personal.
That said, America’s evolution is admirable. I was born during an era of legalized segregation, socially accepted chauvinism and LGBT bigotry. A world where young girls were relegated to aspire to unnatural and unhealthy body images. A world where young men (and women) kept themselves closeted for fear of social, economic and often physical abuse.
Granted, we have a ways to go, but just seeing two dudes, built like linebackers, shamelessly displaying their love and young gals shrugging off the unrealistic expectations that society had placed on past generations by relishing in athleticism and physical fellowship, gave me hope. It also reminded me that along with the ebb and flow of policies and administrations, this nation is a better, more inclusive one than most of us were born into.
I honestly believe, were my crusty old man alive, he would approve.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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