A few years ago, shortly after the 2008 U.S. presidential election, I was visiting an old law school friend at his apartment in Manhattan on the second floor of a small building located near the always atmospheric, folk music history-rich corner of Macdougal and Bleecker Streets in Greenwich Village. We were chatting about an entertainment project he wanted to develop and sell – a compact disc compendium of well and lesser known performances of a very popular American gospel song. It was a pretty good, “what if?”, idea whose ultimate success would depend on a great many variables, including especially the parlous state of the music business, but it was an enjoyable conversation with many side avenues.
Midway through the afternoon, his current girlfriend (the term sounds funny for guys of our age and, come to think of it, the girlfriend’s age, but so be it), dropped by. She was very nice and voluble in conversation. She seemed quite intelligent and was clearly “connected” in the New York literary world because of some past editorial positions and a former marriage.
At one point, out of the blue, she said to me that my friend had advised her that I was politically (in his view) quite conservative, something she and he certainly were not.
Based on that description, she said that she was surprised that I smiled so much and laughed so frequently because it was her impression that political conservatives didn’t do things like that.
Her remarks surprised me a lot. She was deadly serious and there wasn’t even a trace of irony or hidden mischief in what she said. She didn’t try to draw me out about my views or anything else for that matter and I wasn’t inclined to explain myself because that seemed tedious and, in truth, irrelevant.