Steve Cash: In a Crowded Suburban Detroit Restaurant An Old High School Classmate Yelled Out, 'He's a Trumper!'

March 25, 2024, 10:30 PM

The author is an Oak Park High graduate and a 1977 winner on the Gong Show, an amateur talent contest. At one point he ventured to California to become a comic. But after watching David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Richard Lewis on stage, he realized it was best to return to Detroit and get into real estate.

By Steve Cash

Last week I drove by a restaurant in the West Bloomfield area. It brought back some unusual memories from about three years ago when I walked into that place with one of my high school chums.

The author Steve Cash

I went there for the lamb chops. I love lamb chops and was told they were the best. I entered a packed house. It was loud. As I walked towards the hostess I noticed a fella I had gone to school with approaching me. 

In the normal way that people often do, I assumed he was going to say hello. He stopped about 10 feet in front of me and screamed, "there he is, he's a Trumper." 

I stopped in my tracks. 

I've been addressed as many things in my life, putz, schmuck, jerk, but never "Trumper," and never as loud and never in such an accusatory tone. 

The restaurant became silent for a moment as the diners looked around to see who was the object of this tirade. As they all stared at me for a minute I felt like Hester Prynne the villain in "The Scarlet Letter" -- a book I had read in high school -- who was forced to wear a badge of dishonor so everyone would know how evil she was.

At a loss for words I played this attack off as if he was joking, and asked the hostess for a table.  I sat down at my table, still a little bit stunned. I got my bearings and looked over at the gentleman who was evidently extremely annoyed with me. It was hard for me to understand his reaction. 

Even if he was passionate about his beliefs, why would he choose this forum to express them? Although he had embarrassed me, even if the other diners agreed with his point of view, they must know that his attack was inappropriate and ill-timed.  

Just when I was feeling more secure and comfortable, a recognizable face waved me over from an adjacent table. It was my old Real Estate associate Sherry. She was sitting with three friends. I strolled over to her table.  She said she had heard the man who screamed at me. I thought to myself, surely this wonderful friend was going to come to my defense. Instead she doubled down.

"I didn't know you supported him," she said. "What happened to you?" the other women at the table immediately joined in. "You support that ass," they shouted. Then in unison they all made the sign of the cross and pointed at me as if they were fending off Bella Lugosi in the 1931 version of Dracula.   

Lamb Chops Kept Me There

What the hell had I got myself into. I innocently came in for lamb chops and now felt like I was the object of social and political disdain. I thought about leaving and not subjecting myself to any more ridicule or mockery, but that great lamb chop review from my friend kept ringing in my ear. I ordered my food and for the time being things seem to calm down.

I thought I was finally out of the woods. I was wrong.  As I bit into my Ceasar salad an old client of mine approached my table. There was not even a pretense of a greeting as he instead started right in, admonishing me for my alleged Trump support. Evidently he had also been privy to the previous commotion, and felt no hesitation in criticizing what he believed to be my distorted viewpoint. 

He said that he had fond memories of our business relationship ( I sold his house) but he was surprised that he had not known that my judgment was so questionable. Now, totally on the defensive, I tried to philosophically explain that I knew Trump was flawed like all humans, but I felt he had made some good decisions.  Evidently my client was no fan of my pseudo philosophy and dismissed my words as gibberish. He said goodbye and I couldn't help feeling I lost an argument and a client. 

As the main course arrived I bit into those great chops, but apprehensive concerning a next possible attack. Luckily I finished the meal with no further interruptions. The lamb chops were so good that the attacks were almost worth the pain.

Finally Escaped -- Sort of

I left the joint without looking up. I felt like the Red Sox's Bill Buckner sneaking out of Shea Stadium after his momentous World Series error in 1986.  I found my car and thought at least the worst was over. Once again my optimistic outlook was premature

I finally got home and felt safe. I was with my loving family who, right or wrong, shared my views.   

I turned on the computer and there it was. The email from hell. How ironic that I would receive it only an hour after my nightmarish restaurant episode. 

The email was from one of my dearest friends. He knew nothing of the restaurant situation, but was up in arms concerning some of my recent Facebook posts. He said although we had been lifelong friends he could no longer respect me.

He documented how he had been brought up in a liberal and empathetic home, and that my conservative values were somehow the polar opposite of any redeeming qualities that he lived by. 

He said to remain friends with me would be hypocritical and in some ways a betrayal of the lessons and values he had taught his own grown children. 

In short he tore me a new one and he didn't see any way of reconciling our massive differences.  He was righteous and evidently I was not. I was devastated.

Holier Than Thou

I'm no genius but I'm no dummy either.  I'm fairly well read and my views have not been formulated at willy nilly. To attack me because I think differently seems unfair and arrogant.

My friend  unilaterally put himself in a "holier than thou" place, where his ideas were conveniently righteous, and any opposing views were evil. This email made the Lamb Chop fiasco of several hours ago seem tame. I realized that we were living in a volatile and divisive time, but I never thought it would break up lifelong and loving friendships.  

After a night of attacks and heartbreak I gathered myself and responded to my friend the next day. 

I told him that I was very hurt by his comments. I told him I had a different take on certain issues and there was a time when different opinions were discussed in a respectful and civil manner.  I objected to his self righteous claim that his opinion was the "correct one" and that my opinion somehow indicated I had lost my moral compass.

Unfortunately it was no use. His convictions were so deep. He saw ending the friendship as sort of a moral imperative. There was no turning back for him.

Two years went by. I often thought of him with sadness. I loved him. I have known him since I was  15. Great laughs. Thought of calling him often but afraid of further hurtful rejection.

Then fate intervened. A third party stepped in and we had a conversation.  We arranged a lunch and met. Within five minutes all was forgotten. The bond we had developed over 55 years (excuse the expression) "Trumped" the foolish and insignificant political differences. 

In a moment our loving and wonderful friendship was restored. We laughed and we cried at that lunch. We apologized and we were embarrassed at our stubbornness. He still has his views and I still have mine. We will never agree, but it doesn't matter. We came away both believing political beliefs do not define the sum of a person. I feel blessed to have him in my life today.

In conclusion, let me say that although this was a traumatic experience, it taught us both a valuable lesson, and in the end we are closer now than ever. 

I hope this will serve as an example to others who may have opposing views. It's Ok. 

I only ask that if you see me in a restaurant and are aware of my beliefs, you wait until I finish my Lemon Meringue pie before you attempt to impugn my already suspect character. 

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