Finding That Common Ground

The other day, I was sitting at the dinner theater where the seats are very close together. Before the show started, I heard the couple next to me talking with the waitress about whether they should buy season tickets again. After all, a few of the shows in the last few seasons were a little too edgy for them. The gentleman mentioned almost walking out on one show, and I rolled my eyes. I saw that performance, and while it pushed a certain boundary, it was nothing I would have walked out over. I started criticizing these people in my mind and hoping they didn’t renew their season tickets if they were going to be “that way” about it.

Then at the intermission, the woman turned to me suddenly and said, “Can I ask you a question?” I couldn’t imagine what it might be. “What was the name of the boy in Grease? There was Sandy and . . .”

Despite myself, I perked up. “Danny. Danny Zuko.”

“That’s right! I win,” she said to her husband. They’d bet each other a quarter to see who could come up with the name first. I joined in on the teasing when her husband accused her of cheating, and then we turned our chairs around and started talking about the show we were watching. And then we chatted about other shows and how long we’d been coming to the theater. We reminisced about Sister Act and all the memories it brought back about nuns and Catholic school. And that made us laugh.

I’m not going to lie and say all my judgments about this couple miraculously disappeared. A part of me still wanted to chide them for walking out on a show, but a bigger part of me realized that art is subjective, and they had a right to like and dislike what they pleased. And regardless of where we each fell on the line between conservative and liberal in our theater tastes, we all still loved theater. We supported it with our time and money. We promoted it to our friends. We felt in our hearts that it had value in our world.

When you stand on either side of a line, you have to admit there is one patch that belongs to neither of you. It’s the patch the line follows. There is always common ground, you just have to be willing to step on it together.

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