It was a dark and stormy night. … Well, actually it was partly cloudy with a light breeze, but that’s neither here nor there. I was setting out plates, wine glasses and sandwiches to host my writers’ group, when the doorbell rang. It was Cathryn, a smidge early, as always.

While I wrangled my yellow lab, who was obnoxiously mauling Cathryn’s black jeans by the front door, she reported, “David had a last-minute task at work, so he won’t be here until six-thirty. Nice doggy!”

“Gilligan! Down! Nora’s stuck in bridge traffic, so she’ll be late, too,” I replied.

While the appetizer heated in the oven, we chatted in the kitchen. “David’s piece? Oh my stars,” Cathryn exclaimed in her Minnesota accent. David had written a fictional satire depicting America’s hypothetical future if a certain presidential candidate won the election. [No, I won’t say which candidate.]

“Politics is so triggering, I’m afraid we’ll argue,” she said, her eyes fearful. The four members of our group spanned the American political spectrum, from its moderate middle to each of its wackadoodle extremes. However, I didn’t think David’s fictional satire could bring my good friends to fisticuffs.

“I’ll give an honest critique, but I’ll keep my political opinions to myself,” I told Cathryn.

Soon enough, David and Nora arrived and we sat at the table. After swapping chitchat, swigging wine and stuffing our faces with eggplant focaccia sandwiches, David read his piece.

When he was finished, “glass box critiquing” commenced, a process whereby critics give reviews while the writer is silent. Only when the last critique is finished can the writer respond.

Nora went first, followed by me, then Cathryn. Each of us gave favorable reviews, noting David’s creativity and wit. We thought we’d deftly avoided a political debate by sticking to the task at hand. But as soon as the glass box opened, David was ready to talk.

For more than 20 minutes, he ranted. Not about the writing, but about the candidate, that “*BLEEP*ing *BLEEP*hole, and his *BLEEP*ing party and all the *BLEEP*ing idiots who *BLEEP*ing voted for him.”

David wasn’t interested in debate, concurrence or commiseration. He simply wanted to verbally spew forth accumulated political angst, as if he was pumping out his Winnebago’s sewage reservoir after a monthlong road trip with his in-laws.

I had no desire to engage him in political discussion anyway. As a military spouse, I was accustomed to keeping my politics private. Halfway through David’s rant, my mind disassociated from my body. While my eyes looked fixated on David’s words, I was contemplating my next Netflix binge.

When it was finally over, David glanced at Nora, who was supposed to read her piece next, and said, “Sorry,” with a chuckle.

That was all it took. Nora unleashed the wrath of a woman, not scorned, but made to sit through a man’s self-indulgent monologue. “You’re not sorry!” Nora started, her face ablaze with red blotches of anger.

“Oh, no,” I uttered, before the group rapport imploded, and moments happened in flashes.

“I’m *BLEEP*ing pissed!” I heard Nora yell.

“Okay, let’s do this!” David shouted, fixing his elbows on the table and leaning in.

“I’m leaving!” Nora growled. Hands shaking, she whipped copies of her unread piece around the table.

“Nora, don’t leave!” I plead, futilely.

“Do you want us to critique your piece?” Cathryn asked.

“I don’t really give a *BLEEP*!” Nora blurted, before slamming the door. David, Cathryn and I sat in stunned silence.

The next day, David emailed an eloquent, warm apology to our group, diffusing the tension created by the clash. He wrote that he’d just wanted to vent to his friends, but he’d picked the wrong place and time, humbly acknowledging, “We’re all flawed in funny ways, and I am particularly so.”

Our political views weren’t changed by the incident, but it did teach us all something about human interaction, each other and ourselves. Politics is personal. Some profess their opinions out loud, while others prefer to reserve political expression for the voting booth.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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