Biff America: Love doesn’t melt the snow
VAIL CO, Colorado
It’s not often you see love on the sidewalk, especially when the temps are in the single digits, but there it was.
I was riding my bicycle to town to a meeting I was dreading. At the table with me would be six others who, I suspected, would have a much different opinion from my own. I had a good idea I was going to get my butt kicked.
It had snowed hard that day, and the going was slow and slippery – especially on two wheels. I almost opted to take the bus or have my mate drop me off, but the storm was expected to abate and there is little better, after an evening of the blood-sport that is politics, than a quiet bike ride through the snow.
I coasted slowly and silently downhill and passed a bus stop where two people were standing in the sidewalk hugging. They were wearing ski clothing and protection – helmets – practicing safe cuddling.
The two lovers were cheek to cheek (face cheeks, that is), and as they held each other they gently rocked; not dancing, but swaying. I coasted by without a greeting so as to not ruin the mood. Though I passed within a few feet of them I was unnoticed, and they remained in their embrace.
That simple display of affection placed my troubles and imminent meeting in perspective.
“All you need is love.”
I used to hate that Lennon and McCartney song. It came out in 1967, I was 13 and there was much I needed and wanted other than love – muscles, facial hair, my skin to clear up.
But as I aged, I began to see the sense in those words. In life, most else is bearable, but a life without love – parental, romantic, platonic, familial – is empty.
Just seeing the chaste exhibit of affection in the middle of a cold afternoon was enough to remind me what is worthy of worry and concern and what is not.
I pedaled on toward my meeting, more capable to accept the outcome with a perspective lacking in me only moments before.
As expected, I got my butt kicked that night. I would like to think the overwhelming opposition to my position was an example of the majority being out of touch and misguided, but in truth there are many ways to look at any given problem. Often, only history can be the judge of right and wrong, and history is written by the victors.
In truth, all things – be they political, policy or fiscal – pale when placed next to love; the couple loving on sidewalk reminded me of that.
I was bicycling home that night, bruised but undaunted. The roads had been plowed, the wind had died down, and it was snowing lightly. I’m not embellishing when I say it was magical.
I passed the spot where I came upon the lovers embracing. I looked down at the ground, half expecting a bare spot where love had melted the snow.
It was only a few pedal pumps later when it dawned on me that, considering their clothing and helmets, I had no idea of the sexes of the couple. Were they man and woman, man and man or woman and woman? What I did know, with every fiber of my being, was that it didn’t matter. Love is love, and that is all you need.
There is a story about a Southern senator in the 1930s – an avowed segregationist. After his retirement, he was a on the board of a state-run high school for the blind. The post was mostly honorary, but after many years he finally attended a function – a segregated school dance.
The room and dance floor was divided by a rope, with black students dancing on one side, white on the other. The senator saw the ludicrousness of the situation, as neither could tell the difference. Rather, they were told by those sighted whose skin was what color. The students could feel the rope separating them, but could not see the color dividing them.
The story goes that from that moment on, the once-bigoted senator disavowed segregation.
There is a rope dividing same-sex couples from the rest of us. That rope was put up by those too unimaginative or steeped in bias and zealotry to focus on real problems or issues. That in itself is a slope as slippery as any snowy sidewalk absent the heat of love.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.