Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone

Photo by Purple Slog | CC BY 2.0

On a bright, clear afternoon in July we’re finishing up lunch on the deck of a brew-pub in Colorado.  The polite and sunny demeanor of teenagers at a nearby table suggests a church outing. Elayne is dressed in a coral-colored golf ensemble.

She and I have serious catching up to do, but instead launch into a replay of the familiar . . . I’m on my third coffee, Elayne her second Coca-Cola.

Some topics are of course off-limits; my husband says please don’t mention Israel. She’s describing a chain of events leading to her acquisition of a free Coach handbag, when Charlie suddenly nudges me. He says, “Isn’t that Colin Powell sitting over there?”

“Where?” I see what looks like an overweight middle-aged man, somehow familiar. He turns his head and the profile is unmistakable. I’d been reading that he was in the area and had to be hospitalized briefly for altitude sickness.

“Charlie thinks that might be Colin Powell sitting over there behind you,” I say, but she goes right on with her Coach story. Charlie mutters hurriedly, “It’s best not to appear as if you recognize someone like that until you get up to leave, then smile or nod in a dignified manner.”

The young people at the next table leave without seeming to recognize him. We don’t stare; he gives us a friendly smile as we are leaving. . . . Elayne takes no note of it.

Back in the middle of the last century, she and I became best friends for life until…

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