Saturday, April 21, 2007

Making Nice, and Not So Nice...

I attended the 80th birthday party of a family friend on Friday night. It was a lavish birthday dinner, held in a private dining room in an Italian restaurant in North Dallas, where a couple dozen friends and family, some of whom had flown in for the event, roasted and toasted the honoree.

I was seated at a table with two women about my age. I’m 57, and M, directly to my left, and B, directly to M’s left, both appeared to be in their late 50's or early 60's. We introduced ourselves and made small talk over bread and salad, M and B explaining that they were lifelong friends, now neighbors, who had come to the party together, yada yada yada. But when the pastas and salmon and tenderloin were delivered and passed around the table, M and B began to talk about politics.

“Oh, I don’t care who runs, as long as it’s not that one with the name,” M said.

B said emphatically, “I agree!”

“Who’s that?” I asked, guessing I already knew the answer.

“Oh, what’s his name...Obama!” said M.

“I like Obama,” I said, buttering some bread, “but I gather you don’t. What’s your objection?”

Both women looked horrified.

“Do you know his middle name is Hussein?” M asked.

“So?” I said. “What do I care if his middle name is Hussein?”

“He’s a MUSLIM!” M exclaimed, staring hard to see what effect this pronouncement might have on me.

I laughed.

“In fact, I believe he’s a Baptist,”
I said (I was wrong, according to Wikipedia, Obama’s a member of the United Church of Christ, a protestant Christian denomination). “But even if he’s not...well, my firstborn is on the FBI’s list of international terrorists, because she happens to have the same name as one of the 325,000 people on that list, and every time she flies anywhere, she has to allow extra time at the airport because she receives extra scrutiny because of that...”

“What are you talking about? That has nothing to do with what we’re talking about,” M snapped.

“My point is, Obama’s middle name being Hussein doesn’t make him a Muslim,” I said, “but even if he were a what?”

“He IS a Muslim,” M said, “And do you know what they believe?”

“No, tell me,” I said, and I admit I was eager to hear her answer.

“Welllllll...they believe their people will all be together in the hereafter!” she exclaimed.

I looked at her, truly perplexed. “Isn’t that what most religions believe?” I asked.

“He’s a MUSLIM!” M said again, and B nodded.

“But what’s so bad about that?” I asked. “What are you worried will happen if Obama is elected?”

“I’m worried he’ll have this whole country on our knees at 4:00 PM every day, or whatever it is they do!” M exclaimed.

Uh-huh. That would be really, really bad, as opposed to, say, a college kid shooting and killing 33 of his classmates and professors...

“Well,” I said brightly, “He’s got my vote!”

M abruptly stood up and left the table, hurrying from the room. Maybe she needed to use the restroom, or maybe she became so upset by our conversation that she had to leave. I tend to think it was the latter, and while I’m normally a “smooth the feathers” sort of person, in this case, if my saying I’ll vote for Obama upset her that much, after she introduced the topic of politics...well, that’s her problem.

Eventually, she returned to the table.

“Don’t mind me,” she said, all smiles now, making nice.

“Oh, I don’t”, I said, and I smiled back and made nice myself, as I helped myself to some more pasta.


Cynthia said...

Brava! You deserve a very polite standing ovation. I'm undecided about who I'll vote for in the upcoming election, but Obama is definitely on my short list.

Lisa :-] said...

I really think one should have to take some kind of test in order to vote in this country... :P

TJ said...

Personally I think there is alot of people looking at him, more then we realize.
It makes it interesting for sure.
New blog

Anonymous said...

This story only confirms what Vermonters think about Texas.

Tammy said...

You are my hero and have moxy! Obama has my vote too but that conversation still blows my mind. ;)


Dee said...

You know, I wondered why someone tried to tell me he was Muslim. I just put it down to small town small mindedness. Guess that rumor's spread further than I thought.

david_parker said...

The count was 32, excluding the gunman.

Regarding those two old ladies, hey, they'll be in a retirement home before you are. And senile.


Kellogg said...

Keep truckin, Judi! This piece was right on target and good for you. The origin of the name-muslim connection was a maliciously incorrect email that circulated rapidly, one of many that will be spawned I suspect by republican radicals. I heard Obama speak on foreign policy today in Chicago and he was bright, focused and positive - something not seen from political leaders here in 6+ years.

Erin said...

Okay, this was a HILARIOUS entry! (Beside, of course, the fact that it's sad that folks can be so close-minded.) Well-written, really funny--I enjoyed it! :-)

alphawoman said...

I don't actually remember it, but I know that when Kennedy won certain people (obviously these two gals were descendants) who believed the Pope would be ruling the US. I love how you got their goat!

Chris said...

Ignorant people should not discuss politics. I am sure that if she had something specific against Obama's platform, the two of you could have had a lively but pleasant conversation.

Me? I don't care who wins as long as it isn't that woman. Do you know what THEY believe in? (ha!)

My Blog

Dave said...


On occasion, I go to and see, well, you get the point of the site. You do. Glad I did. Like what you write. And, thanks for the honor.

dreaminglily said...

Wow. What the hell. Okay, I'm going to say now and I have no doubt you know this, I'm conservative so he doesn't have my vote lol BUT... that was completely bizarre. I have no idea why his middle name should be such a big deal lol I certainly don't think he's an EVIL man lol I'd much rather see him run than Clinton. But that's me and everyone thinks I'm weird lol

You handled that really well btw. I'd probably have either started laughing in their face or get annoyed at how stupid that was and end up mad. Ignorant people tick me off lol

PS: Showing this to Will, he'll get a kick out of the stupid people lol

The Yankee said...

Mullah Barack Hussein Osama-Bama will rule us all and have us praying and praising the name of the Communists! I'm so mad I could just........laugh lol.

Someone needs to get on Hannity's Insanity and tell his friends to at least get the basics right before they start the attacks.

And I bet the Clinton camp helped fan the whole madrassa fire from early this year. They're shrewed politicians there.