In the Space Between
This month's book group meeting was held in a basement restaurant just outside of Central Square, in Cambridge. (My idea—it was my turn to host and because I'm in the middle of moving, my living room consists of a love seat, a chair, and a TV stand-turned-bookcase-turned-shoe rack/mail holder that still holds salts from the infamous 100+ inches of snow winter only a few months ago.) Our book group may as well be the premise of a Sex and the City knock-off: four gay men from different regions of the U.S., different walks of life, meet once a month to discuss ideas. Friendship, laughter, "All is Lost" moment followed by a resolution ensues.
But interesting to me—one of the members had just returned from France and we were reading a book in French translation—was that the topic switched so easily to current French politics. The three of them had been to France; I had not. But there was a bit of contention among them about presidents past and present. This one had been embroiled in a scandal. That one was having an affair that was not capitalized on by the media until Americans started doing the same (in light of JFK and Clinton). Would he have been pressured were it not for the morality of American politics being scrutinized? The thought was debated. I sat in attentive silence; I didn't even know the name of Canada's prime minister, and that border's about the same distance from here to Philly. Make it easier—prime minister of England, one of America's parent countries? After Tony Blair my mind's a haze.
And sure, I tend not to discuss politics because I had read somewhere that it's impolite. And because France was still on my "Go-to" list of countries and not pierced through its heart on my "Been-there" pile, I knew that I wasn't on a level playing field to charge the topic. But even though the words were "politics," "France," and "power," the underlying discussion was one of cultural norms. Cultural appropriation. Ethics, morality, and the different strategies people develop when vying for a potential leader. And there's something that I love about that: the membrane between what is said and what is discussed. Something so familial.