Life in the left lane

24 Oct

Note: I’ll be honest. These past months have taken a toll on my interest in cooking and writing. Hopefully it’s a temporary setback and we’ll return to our usual topics shortly. 

I begin most every morning with a briskish five- or six-mile walk. There are few sidewalks on my route and so you will mostly find me farthest to my left, approaching oncoming vehicles.

This may be the proper place for a person on foot to travel, but it is not always a safe one. Too many motorists drive distractedly. A surprising number of others resent sharing the road with pedestrians—and aren’t afraid to show it. 

I have been run off the road plenty, forced to leap into the brush or up onto a snowbank, even pinned against a solid stone wall. On a couple of occasions I have been deliberately aimed at. That’s right, aimed at. By an actual human, operating a few thousand-pound vehicle that could end me.

Thing is, the left side of the universe has always been a comfortable place for me. As a boy and then a young man I spent all my summers in left field on the baseball diamond and third base on the softball field. I’ve spent decades probing the farthest left frequencies of the FM radio dial. And My Sainted Mother, a righty, used her left hand exclusively to make her meatballs.

I used to think that a lifelong familiarity with things left kept me on my toes and therefore safe. Not anymore. Leaning even slightly leftward of farthest right puts you square on the third rail of life in 2020 America. 

None of us is safe.

A couple of months ago I made the mistake of innocently pointing out, in a social media setting, that I found the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to be a decent sort of fellow. And that is all that I pointed out about him. 

“Fuck your feelings,” came a particularly brutal response. And from a person that I actually know a little bit. Like, in the flesh.

It’s dismaying that such an innocuous comment about a lifelong and serious-minded public servant could unleash such fury. The candidate that I referred to isn’t even a lefty, by the way; he’s a centrist. A lot of moderate Republicans are in his corner. A lot of left-leaning Democrats are not.

Besides, all I said was that he seemed like an okay guy.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that a “friend” or a “follower” has lashed out with such vitriol over, well, not so much. 

Once I was called a “scumbag liberal asshole” for “spreading FAKE NEWS to make our GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER look bad.” This for having the gaul to implore my fellow citizens, in the very early days of the coronavirus pandemic, to “please be vigilant and stay safe out there, people.” 

Another time it was suggested that I move to “some sociallist (sic) shithole country” where people of my ilk “belong.” Though, this person added with apparent enthusiasm, “HELL would be better because I wish all you DEMONCRATS would  just DIE OF CANCER already.”

So there. 

(For the record, I am not now nor have I been a member of the “DEMONCRAT” party, nor the Democrat one, but I take my “friend’s” point.)

It’s the viciousness that’s so disheartening, the blind rage, the complete absence of kindness and respect. We’re talking about a national virus here, a virus that scares me a lot more than COVID-19.

In eleven days we will have an election. The polls indicate that a change in leadership may be coming.

I’m good with that. Very good, in fact.

But then what? 

My guess is that the lane that I’m traveling on becomes more, not less, perilous. 

Never in my life have I wanted more to be wrong.

13 Responses to “Life in the left lane”

  1. Andrew Sordoni October 24, 2020 at 1:14 pm #

    It is distressing to read, identify and share your feelings and critical observations. It is my hope that a civil dialogue will once again be possible in our country and that there will be a minimum of discomfort to you and reduction in the flow of words and recipes. We need Mr. Meatball.

  2. Jerry Harkavy October 24, 2020 at 1:35 pm #

    A neighborly suggestion: I’ve noticed how motorists have become more aggressive in recent years, which makes me somewhat reluctant to get on my bike or even walk on the roads. That’s why I’ve been redirecting many of my walks onto our excellent trail network, accessible from my backyard. From the Stonegate Trails to The Robinson Woods Outer Loop and back is a pleasant three-mile walk with not a motor vehicle in sight.

  3. Matt DeLeo October 24, 2020 at 2:37 pm #

    Always loved your stories and especially loved your recipes.
    Since you decided to add your political views to the mix ( something I doubt anyone interested in food asked for) I am unsubscribing from mr. meatball.
    Good luck if the degenerate, lying,career criminal you support is elected as we will be living in a socialist country.
    I’m very disappointed that a fellow Italian/American can not see the damage the Democrats have and continues to do to the United States of America.
    Good bye and good luck.

    • Joan Lang October 24, 2020 at 3:24 pm #

      Thus illustrating the very lack of open mind, open heart, and civility that this post is about—and that’s making America less than great right now. . May all your meatballs be tough.

      • Virginia Lang October 24, 2020 at 5:24 pm #

        I hate the hate that’s been developing in this country. Never in my 98 years nas there been such vitriol spewed out by so many, that one has to parse ones speech.

      • Denise Brosch October 24, 2020 at 5:57 pm #


  4. Denise Brosch October 24, 2020 at 3:43 pm #

    What is the old saying….I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight for your right to say it. Isn’t freedom of speech allowed for ALL or just like kinds? I remember when I was young, there were political arguments….the old timers got loud and a little drunk….but they all got together the next week and it happened again. And politics was not the argument…it could be anything. they remained friends…paisans….cumars….Italian Americans that love their country and want the best for it. I find this all just ridiculous…over an opinion…..really?

  5. Mickey Hughes in OR October 24, 2020 at 7:18 pm #

    I think most people have strong feelings for their candidate and some don’t, and that’s all good. But this country seems to have lost its civility and I regret that. I am glad Mr. Meatball is here and posting about his family and food. It is different from my cajun roots but Italian food is very prevalent in south Louisiana and I do enjoy Mr. Meatball’s spin on his experiences. Keep plugging Mr. M, take a few days off but come back to your love.

  6. DAVE BLAKNEY October 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm #

    cruelty isn’t strength, empathy isn’t weakness. my family on father’s side supposedly got to the united states in the 1600’s. my great uncle wouldn’t have let Italians into the country if he had his way. he would say awful things i won’t repeat here, well into the 1990’s. people have short memories and the arc of history is long. the cult of trump is a very sad piece of that arc. vote, and put an extra anchovy in anything you’re cooking for me, i’m an un-hyphenated american.

  7. Robert Nyman October 26, 2020 at 10:06 pm #

    Upon reflection of your post, it reminds me of what Yogi once said, “When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It” those who chose to go one way or the other, will need to experience the decision of their ways. For me I am still looking for that left handed meatball scoop, that my immigrant Grandmother told me was the best piece of equipment she could give me to use.

  8. Joanne Gray October 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm #

    Dear Mr. Meatball–Living in a country where Trump is in charge is exhausting. Keep posting and I will keep reading-you’re the best! Joanne Gray.

  9. Bailey Cal October 27, 2020 at 10:19 pm #

    Thanks for your humanity, humor and wonderful writings.

  10. ArleneGreco November 5, 2020 at 9:07 pm #

    Makes you just want to cry. I’m with you, Mr. M. – keep posting whatever you need/want to say.

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