Volume 20 Issue 3 | June 1 -7, 2007

Downtown Notebook

Nobody told me there were Republicans in Tribeca

By Wickham Boyle

I live Downtown; I thought it was the bastion of liberalism. But in the hyper-divided country we now inhabit, sadly similar to Civil War divisions, one can never be sure who wears blue and who wears gray.

I was volunteering at one of the Downtown schools. Volunteers are the backbone of any school and we were a hive of activity as we put the final touches on our annual action. I was brought in to write the copy for the catalog — at least writers are seen as having a tangible skill. As we noodled with the items and copy, another mom quipped, “Well you are all happy enough to borrow my giant Republican S.U.V. when you need to haul stuff around, but otherwise I get made fun of.”

I retorted that I had a perfectly capacious 8-year-old Subaru station wagon that still got 28 miles to the gallon, but that was not enough for me. I was stunned to have a Republican in our midst. I admit that I went for this woman’s jugular every chance I got during this long meeting. In creating our “cute packages” I noticed an enormous, remote control, gas-guzzling truck and also in the pile of donations was a children’s book on voting. I wanted to pair the two into an item, “Never too young to learn how to vote out the administration.”

The woman was insulted. She was further riled when I suggested putting a basket of dog biscuits with a dog bed in a hypothetical package called “Doggy Style.” Never mind that I suggested coupling the vintage Beatrix Potter books with the sex toy made famous on “Sex and the City,” for my dream package called, “the Real Rabbit.” To me it was all kidding, as I dubbed myself “the Cunning Linguist.”

But when the Republican left, she was clearly bruised. The other moms berated me, and I, nasty-tempered, stubborn half Irish, half Italian that I am, retorted: “She needs to hear that her views, the administration’s policies, are not acceptable. She needs to have it in her face.” And I took my words and stormed out.

Back-story: I never run into this woman ever. Her kids are much younger than mine, and hell, as we know she is a Republican, so she is not spending nights watching experimental theater at La MaMa or working for Obama. But the day after we had our skirmish, I saw her walking toward me on Greenwich St. I am an easy target, as I am always attached to an old, politically-correct bike. She turned and crossed the street.

My first instinct, the saints forgive me, was triumph. Ahhhh, but age tugged at my mean streak, and I turned my green bicycle around and pedaled until I found her. I called her name and she turned, looking slightly peaked. She had a sweet-faced, long-banged boy by the hand and was toting tons of Century 21 shopping bags. Did she think I was gonna deck her when she had no hands free?

I said, listen, “I know we don’t agree politically, but I never run into you and now here we are with you egregiously avoiding me. I know from my spiritual life, which has nothing to do with politics, that when I see people — in what to my belief system IS NOT RANDOM — I have to be aware. I do not want to have animosity between us.”

Yes she said, “We are all in the same community.”

I choked on that idea in my mind, chaffing on the notion that I could have anything in common with the 28 percent of Americans who still support George Bush. But I held my tongue. “Yes I do suppose there is more that connects us than separates us.”

She yelled out thanks as I pedaled away. I felt like a grown up. But wait there’s more.

Later that day as I pedaled up to meet my son at a doctor’s appointment, there she was outside St Luke’s school, pushing her stroller with two kids now, back to our community in Tribeca. I never run into her before and now twice in one day. She yelled out, “Meant to be!”

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