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Davis Journal

The meaning of Real America on a patio

Sep 16, 2021 09:05AM ● By Bryan Gray

Four old codgers were seated on the restaurant patio. It happens throughout Utah where elderly men shoot the breeze, sip a hot beverage, and relive old times.  I listened in. They were dispensing memories and learned-the-hard-way wisdom.  

One gave his take on today’s youth.

“The kids today are just too impatient,” he said. “They want everything now, information, good jobs, everything. They don’t realize you have to work for it.”

“Agreed,” said another, shaking his head.  “My grandkids don’t work as hard as I did at their age. All they want to do is play video games and text their friends. I tell them to get out and see the world, and they look at me like I’m crazy or something.”

“I’ll tell you the problem I see today,” said one of the men.  “People just seem too angry.  If you don’t believe the same way they do, they figure you’re the enemy. My heck, just let people live their lives.”

“You’re right. I’ve got a neighbor who gets mad at the gays and lesbians. According to him, they’re ruining this nation. Listen, I don’t like gays pushing their private stuff in my face, but it is not my business.”

“Yes, I don’t understand it,” said the first man. “But hey, it’s not for me to decide. Let them be and allow God to sort it out later. That’s what I think.”

They took a pause before one of them brought up the current headlines.

“I don’t know about you,” he said. “but I think Biden really screwed up this Afghanistan thing. We should have been better prepared.”

“It’s a bad thing,” agreed one of the men. “Honestly, though, I don’t think it would have made any difference which president was in office. You can’t win a war against religious fanatics and you are going to suffer casualties if you try to get out. At least we’re out of there now.”

“That’s what my grandson said. He was over there you know, and he always told me it would end up bad.”

“Yeah, it seems like everything turns to crap anymore.”

“People are making it worse than it is,” said the quiet one. “I mean life’s as good as you make it. You get all the crackpots and their conspiracy this and conspiracy that. No wonder Americans are so down. Look at us – we’re living longer and so far none of us have had to sell blood to put food on the table. If you ask me, all we need is a little more kindness. We shouldn’t be judging all the time.”

“So you think we shouldn’t judge people who won’t get the vaccine?” asked one.

“Well, you can’t fix stupid!” he said. “The vaccine is different from regular politics.  People are dying because some others won’t get the shot or wear a mask. On that, you’re right, we should be judging. I won’t let my daughter come around the house until she is vaccinated. If more people would take a stand like that, we’d get beyond this virus. It’s hard, but you need to take a stand against stupid.”

The old coots were still there when I left the restaurant, ribbing each other about hospital visits and talking trash. We hear a lot about “real America,” not Hollywood elites or angry mobs. To me, “real America” was sitting on a restaurant patio and I felt hopeful and energized.