Commentary

Snow: Brussels sprouts no barrier to friendship

CorrespondentNovember 16, 2013 

Adding to his many talents, my friend Glenn Keever is becoming quite a gourmet cook.

Not long ago, he asked in an email if I liked Brussels sprouts. He then answered his own query, “What a dumb question! Of course you don’t.”

Nevertheless, he provided his recipe in case I ever did develop a yearning for Brussels sprouts.

It also irritates my friend that I don’t like raw oysters, don’t play golf and don’t delight in egg omelets heavily laced with hot peppers.

In fact, we are different in so many ways we both wonder how our friendship has survived all these decades.

In his youth, he was athletic. I was not. He has thrilled to the roar of the crowd as he crossed the goal line. No one ever applauded the A’s and B’s on my report card or my seventh-grade spelling championship.

He is mechanically adept. I once overheard my wife say on the phone to a Sears technician assisting with some kitchen sink problem, “You don’t need to talk to my husband. You can talk to me. On a good day, my husband can change a light bulb.”

She exaggerates. I’m not that inept, although I’m no Handy Andy by any means.

Glenn is happiest behind the wheel of a car, crossing a state or two in a single day. To me, a trip to the foothills to fetch apples in autumn is, in the language of the mountains, “a fur piece.”

My coffee mate also knows what goes on under the hood of his car. To me, under the hood is a no-man’s land, a sure source of future trouble and expense. My car’s workings and temperament are best left to the skills of Bobby Dunn and David Blackburn at nearby Triangle Car Care.

I won’t take your time to enumerate our similarities: our politics, love of literature, support for public schools, to name a few.

I suppose that, to some extent, opposites do attract. But I think that an over-abundance of opposites could jeopardize a relationship, be it a marriage, a partnership or friendship.

A prime criterion for lasting friendship is two pairs of patient ears. Mark Antony in his funeral speech for Caesar didn’t begin with “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” for nothing.

In today’s culture craving to be heard, a good listener is a pearl of great price. My friend listens, although sometimes we each bring to coffee a written agenda to ensure equal time.

In a lasting friendship, tough skins that can withstand criticism are both a luxury and, at times, a necessity. I’m not referring to spiteful, hurtful criticism, but to honest, helpful criticism that may steer one into a better direction or pay big dividends in the long run.

An exceptional friend is one who is always present in time of need, sometimes even anticipating ways of coming to your rescue without even being prompted.

For example, during our Gethsemane of grief, after our daughter was killed by an impaired driver while we were out of the country, our house was filled with well-wishers and friends when we arrived home.

I glanced out the window to see my friend mowing our overgrown lawn. He had even brought his own mower – just to be sure.

How often have you heard the expression, “We’re closer than brothers (or sisters)?”

That’s quite possible. Having hibernated in the same womb for nine months does not guarantee lifelong friendship. Remember Cain and Abel?

Don’t let differing politics jeopardize a friendship. Some of my closest friends and I are poles apart politically. Good friends are worth more than both houses of Congress plus a few state legislatures thrown in.

We all know many, many people we call friends, but only a few who seem essential to our sense of well-being.

In the event you’re into Brussels sprouts, I think my friend’s recipe can be procured. His description of the dish does sound a bit appetizing, except for the dash of garlic.

No, I don’t like garlic either. Or green eggs and ham. Sorry ’bout that.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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