As for my Kuchma Administration friend - the one I felt I couldn't stand and told him so last Saturday - it's his birthday today. I called him, wished him all the best and explained myself:
"I'm not sure I mean this as an apology, but I did have a bad aftertaste this whole week, and I do realize I acted impulsively, even though I meant every word I said then."
He told me he understood and invited me to his birthday party. But, as I wrote earlier, I'm not ready yet to be friends with him again.
This episode with my friend reminds me of what happened between my father and his best childhood friend sometime around 1990.
It was the time of anti-Communist, pro-independence rallies; the time when they began using our current flag, blue-and-yellow, replacing the old Soviet Ukrainian one, red-and-blue; the time when I was skipping my high school classes to mingle with the crowd supporting the hungerstriking students at what used to be October Revolution Square and is now Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti).
At that time, they also stopped arresting people for bootlegging foreign films, and it became possible to show them to relatively large audiences totally legally and even get paid for it. So one evening, my parents and my father's old friend went to one of those "video salons" whose main features were a VCR, a medium-sized screen or just a regular TV set, and a voiceover translation read by one ubiquitous guy, always the same. When I asked today what they were watching that evening, my mama couldn't remember but my father did - Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
On their way back home, they didn't discuss the movie. They talked politics. My mother was saying that the Communist Party bosses had been bullshitting everyone for too long and didn't deserve their wealth and comfortable lifestyles. My father's friend replied that it was actually possible to achieve the affluence of the party bosses: one just had to work really hard and be patient. My mama laughed loudly at this. Her irreverence angered my father's friend and he cursed mama as hard as he could. That was an unacceptably rude and very unexpected, uncommon reaction, and my father demanded that his friend apologize to mama. He refused, and my father had no other choice but to discontinue this old friendship.
Five or six years later, though, they made it up. My father's friend comes to our place regularly now, to watch football with my father, and my mama always makes tea for the two of them. My father's friend doesn't like Communists anymore; his niece and nephew are both married to French citizens and live in France; and in this election, he is voting for Yushchenko.
I've just realized that I met my Kuchma Administration friend around the same time my mother's dissident spirit maddened my father's friend: it was still five years before Kuchma became our president. I don't regret having called my friend on his birthday today, just a week after I told him to go to hell and just one day before the crucial election: I'm somewhat unprincipled, I guess, but if that makes me a friendlier, more peaceful person, why not? Moreover, I know for sure that neither my friend nor I will ever consider voting for the Communists - and that's a good beginning.