Cards with the Happy Ladies Club. It's Hand and Foot, a variation of Canasta that requires some but not total concentration. With six decks in the draw pile, counting cards becomes an exercise in frustration. So, we chat and we prompt one another when it's her turn, or when she's forgotten to discard, and then we go back to chatting.
If there are two tables, the conversation can often be loud If there are six at one table, the game lasts forever. It doesn't matter. There are no toads in this group, there's no one I consciously avoid sitting beside, we all have our strengths and weaknesses but we're basically a congenial crowd.
And so, when Colin Kaepernick's kneeling during the National Anthem came up in conversation, there was no cause for alarm. The Mainer was appalled, insulted on behalf of the military, thought it was a terrible idea. I smiled and said I totally disagreed with her, that I thought it was a meaningful gesture that had far-reaching consequences and yes, he certainly could have held a press conference to express his views, but we probably wouldn't have been talking about it if he had.
The fact of our having the conversation, 60-something ladies in the desert Southwest talking about race and Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter and of course all lives matter but that's not the issue. The issue is The Conversation - be respectful, hands in plain sight, say Sir, don't run - that parents of young black men have every time their sons leave the house.
That we were talking about it, parsing the details, worrying about where America was headed - that is my America.
And then, someone mentioned that she was still undecided about her vote in November. It wasn't all that awkward to ask her why. She doesn't like either of them. She doesn't trust Hillary; "She lied about Benghazi." Republican sponsored Congressional Hearings found no facts, but she remained convinced that something was there that had not been found. What turned her around was the reminder that that same investigating Republican Congress also refused to allocate the funds necessary to defend all our embassies adequately. Mrs. Clinton couldn't have done it, even if she had wanted to do it.
She acknowledged Trump's basket of deplorable ideas, but thought maybe a change might be good for the country. We worried that issue to death as we shuffled the cards for the last hand. We were still smiling, still friends, still disagreeing but listening and thinking and, I hope, at least one of us was rearranging her future plans.
This is what I love about Tucson, and what I hold and have always held as my ideal of America. The right to agree to disagree without the loss of status or freedom makes this the best country in the world... or as close to it as can be. It was on full display at cards on Tuesday afternoon.