Hulton Archive/Topical Press Agency
By Amy Phillips Penn

“I’ve always said that in politics, your enemies can’t hurt you,
but your friends will kill you.”
— Ann Richards

I am sitting by the fireplace on a couch at Le Club watching the Presidential returns. Le Club echoes a home-away-from-home living room, except that it’s for members only.

Members only it may be, but it doesn’t feel as elitist as many a New York club. Both Caroline and John Jr. (yes, Kennedy) celebrated their birthdays there.

On wilder nights, locked bathroom doors hinted at guests in formal attire standing (often in pairs) on toilets and sniffing a little “what have you.”

Rewind!  I am next to my new found friend, Georgia (not her real name). We were introduced to one another at Le Club, so that I could collaborate with her on an article for one of her family’s magazines: the lifestyles of the rich and often famous one, which existed before the words “lifestyle” and ”rich” escaped from what was once considered a dictionary for the tacky and pedigreed, not.

Georgia and I differ politically, but it has not interfered with our friendship to date.

Her family is close friends with the President-to-be. I am not a fan, but did that really matter? He is running away with the election without my nod or tangible touch in the voting booth.

“I’m sorry that your man lost,” says Georgia,” smiling a compassionate smile that has no trace of an “I told you so.” I love her for that. It takes a bit of the bite out of the outcome.

Years later, two women in their seventies had to be pulled apart on the Hampton Jitney because they were having a pre-election discussion that was on its way to a potential arrest or hospital visit. Yes, they were friends.

It was a time when talking politics was potentially lethal, if not to the body and soul, but definitely to friendships. The new rules were clear: there were no rules.

The adage varies. “Never talk politics or money” or “never talk politics, sex, religion, or money,” while technology, social media, and ever-changing social barriers (or lack thereof) shout “anything goes.”

Forget “politesse.” Whatever happened to mystery, sexy, sultry, often innocent innuendos that beckon an expanding, potentially worthwhile relationship?

What often seems like fluffed up etiquette has its basis in keeping life civilized and safe. The rules change with the technology to the point where breaking up or sending condolences to tragedies can be texted and abbreviated. Where did all the engraved stationary go?

I played polo for some time. Polo is a challenge in a multitude of ways, you have to stay on the horse, hit the ball, play defense, gallop into offense, and avoid potentially tragic accidents. How to do so?

The line in polo is constantly changing, and to make life even more complex it is an invisible line. One person hits the ball and establishes an invisible line that cannot be crossed, and then the next player hits the ball, and a new — albeit invisible — line is created…and so it goes. Polo has a rule book that is the size of a novella. It is not meant to confuse, but to clarify and keep a very dangerous game as safe as possible.

“You must be old, or you would be texting,” a young voice answers a phone recording. I love a good phone call; texts are fine too, if you keep a hand on the steering wheel. In an age where we can Google and dig up, in seconds, more than most people even know about themselves, what kind of relationships do we cultivate?

I rarely talk politics anymore outside of what I hope to be the safe zone. I don’t choose to sabotage any friendships in the making, or ones that I’ve treasured.

I enjoy my tech tools that change as fast as the line of a polo ball.

I still love a lengthy phone call, now somewhat of a luxury; a relaxed walk with a friend, old or new, and a conversation that takes it time to unveil our lives, without someone recording it for YouTube.

 

 

“Life without a friend is death without a witness.” — Spanish proverb

Leave a Reply