Lydia and Phil

Created July 19, 2023
Last Modified September 10, 2023


A Suburban Tale

This is a cautionary tale about today’s situation.
I hope you enjoy it and maybe benefit from it.

“Oh, my God” she cried. “I have to go.” Phil was slightly disappointed but acquiesced. Lydia’s erratic habits were somehow comforting to him. He didn’t know what he might do if she behaved differently. At the least, he anticipated a state of confusion. But wait, things were already confused. He smiled with bemusement as he watched her closing the door behind her. She didn’t say where she was going, a not uncommon happenstance. Phil didn’t mind, except he had no idea when she would return. But he did have a good idea of where she was going. It gave him the house to do as he pleased, but it also made him a little uncomfortable.

Outside, Lydia ran quickly to her car. She drove away in the same fashion as she had left her house, as fast as she dared. She left the six-house cul-de-sac and swerved onto the macadamed suburban ribbon, leading inevitably to a crowded highway. On the way she passed innumerable fast-food joints, liquor stores, various businesses, law offices, stationery stores, carpet, and furniture stores, all the places that supposedly made life so pleasant in the suburbs. Once on the highway, she had hardly travelled a hundred yards before she was brought to a stop by the arrested traffic.

“Damn” she exclaimed. “I’m going to miss my meeting.” Knowing this she decided to stop at a coffee shop just off the highway. But first she had to endure waiting in the stalled traffic. After a few minutes that felt like forever, she finally took an off-ramp and parked in the coffee shop lot. Eschewing the drive-through line, she went inside, ordered black coffee and a pastry, and sat at one of the small tables. Outside, thunder began to rumble nearby, and lightning streaked the sky. She was just as happy to miss her meeting and enjoy a cup of coffee, avoiding the thunderstorm.

Phil had no idea what Lydia’s meeting was all about. She did not share. They thought they knew that their political and social beliefs were nearly identical even without presenting them to each other. They each believed their religious beliefs were much the same. The truth was very different. Both thought themselves Christians, but Lydia was satisfied while Phil was troubled and beset with doubts. They never talked about religion. They did talk about politics, but the talk was always dull, colorless, anodyne, much like their childless marriage.

In the coffee shop Lydia saw a good-looking man at the next table. Otherwise, the shop was devoid of customers. He was dressed casually, in jeans and a light sweatshirt. “Black Lives Matter” was spelled out on his shirt. After a few moments the man said off-handedly, “Quite a storm, eh?” “Well, I’m afraid of lightning,” said Lydia, and a conversation was begun. Lydia was usually attracted to good-looking men, and she attracted them as well. But usually, she met such men while drinking with Phil at some watering hole. Occasionally Phil took Lydia out to dinner, and he always chose restaurants of high reputation. It was never the other way around, so Phil and Lydia did their part to sustain the idea of white male superiority. At home, it was decidedly different. Phil took part in all the work of housekeeping, and Lydia took part in maintaining the grounds.

This time Lydia took up with a man without the help of gin or vodka. “Usually, lightning is nothing to be afraid of, unless you deliberately tempt fate,” said the man. “By the way, my name’s Norman.” “Lydia.” “Live nearby?” asked Norman. “Yeah, pretty close.” “I live in the city,” Norman said. “Well, I don’t think lightning is much of a problem in the city,” opined Lydia. “If you say so,” returned Norman.

“What brings you to this coffee shop?” asked Norman. “I could ask you the same,” said Lydia. “I’m here to try to make a difference,” declared Norman. “A difference in what? And isn’t Norman a Jewish name?” “Sometimes it is, but not this time. I was born and raised a Lutheran, but now I’m a Unitarian-Universalist.”

“What the heck is that?” Lydia wanted to know. “It’s a religion that started out as a counter to the idea of the Trinity. That’s not the only reason, but it’s a big one. UUs today are a mixed bag about the Trinity.”

“In my religion, the Trinity is a central doctrine. You can’t be a Christian and not believe in the Trinity.” Norman explained that some UUs thought themselves Christian, but others did not. A lot said there was only one God, and some said there is no God at all. “You are going to burn in Hell for all eternity,” said Lydia. “Oh, come on, that’s not for you to say. Nobody knows what’s true or what isn’t,” was Norman’s objection. “Yes, they do, it says so in the Bible,” said Lydia. “OK,” was Norman’s stance. Not a strong stance, but he was tiring of all this religion stuff.

Norman decided he’d had enough, so he told Lydia he had to be on his way. Lydia was left to stew over what Norman had said. “I still think he’s a Jew,” thought Lydia. She never thought of herself as anti-Semitic, but negative feelings about lots of things were latent in her behavior, and surprises were ahead of her, and for Phil, too.

Back home with Phil, Lydia recounted her incident in the coffee shop. This was unusual for Lydia. Usually, she did not tell Phil about her daily encounters. On this occasion, she felt compelled to talk with Phil.

“Traffic was all backed up, so I decided to have a coffee instead of going to my meeting. This guy in the shop approached me (sort of true.) I was nervous as hell. I didn’t know him. Turns out he was a Jew.”

“What’d he look like?”

“Suit, tie, you know, city stuff.” She made this up. He was dressed casually, with a Black Lives Matter sweatshirt. “But I didn’t want him to talk to me.”

“Yeah, OK, but what did he look like?”

“If you didn’t know he was a Jew, you might think he was sort of good looking. But he was a Jew.”

“How did you know that?” asked Phil.

“For starters, he said his name was Norman. He probably used that name because he thought it didn’t sound Jewish. He claimed he was a member of a church I never heard of before, a Unitarian-something-or-other, I think he said. He told me all kinds of weird things about this religion, but it was just a cover-up for being a Jew.”

“Why do you care if he was Jewish?” Turns out Phil, although burdened with lots and lots of problems, did not count antisemitism among them. This was one of the rare occasions that they discussed religion.

Lydia became cautious. Given that she and Phil did not discuss this sort of thing, she felt she had to protect herself. It was none of Phil’s business, or anyone else’s, what she thought about Jews. “Well, I don’t much care, to tell the truth”, said Lydia. “I just thought it was true.”

“So why bring it up at all?” asked Phil. “Maybe you care more than you let on.”

“It’s not that, it’s just that, well, you know how those people are.”

“What do you mean, ‘those people’?” Phil had an oppressive shock of learning something new about his wife. His “trophy wife.” “I never knew that you are an antisemite. That just blows me away. Do you have a thing about blacks, too?”

“You know I just never talk about those things. I just follow what the Bible teaches.”

“And what does the Bible teach?”

“The Jews are greedy, violent, and worst of all, they killed Christ.”

“They didn’t kill Christ. The Romans killed a man who was a nuisance to them, and was interfering, or at least trying to interfere, with their hegemony in Palestine. The fact is the Roman province of Palestine was peppered with prophets and ‘Messiahs’ who caused them no end of troubles.”

“Well, the Bible says different,” said Lydia. “And if the Bible says it’s so, then it’ so. Black people are always claiming that they should have the same rights as whites, but the Bible tells us that only white people will go to heaven. Blacks and other coloreds and Jews can’t have the same rights as whites.”

“Are you serious?” Phil couldn’t believe his ears. He felt he had made a big mistake not discussing religion before now with Lydia. He thought of himself as a Christian, but he didn’t think that made him superior to those who weren’t. He had married Lydia only a few months ago, enchanted by her physical beauty, which he now thought perhaps had blinded him to the kind of person she really was. So … .

Phil had an idea of where Lydia went when she said she was going to a meeting. These meetings were social gatherings with locals, mostly but not all females. Now he wanted to know more about this “social gathering.” “Is this the kind of thing you and your friends talk about at your meetings? What kind of group are you guys?”

“Well, I meet with my friends once or twice a week in Belleville. We talk about what’s going on in the world and try to figure out how to fix things.”

“What do you mean by fix things?” asked Phil, somewhat incredulously.

“We know that once this country was much different from what it is now,” answered Lydia. “My friends and I just want it to return to the way it used to be.”

“And how did it ‘used to be’?” Phil was getting alarmed. He had heard about this sort of thing before. He thought he could pretend to himself that “used to be” was simply a fantasy in the minds of some people. But he had come to realize that these beliefs had evolved into what amounted to a cult. He also realized that the idea of a cult meant different things to different people. Now he wanted to know where Lydia stood on this spectrum.

“So, how did it ‘used to be’?” repeated Phil.

Lydia was prepared for this kind of question. She was sure that she knew what was what. “When white people, that is, Northern Europeans, the only truly civilized people in the world, came to North America, they found primitive savages, subhuman, really living there. The only solution was to displace those people, making way for civilized people to take over the land.”

“The only way to bring back the America we once had is to establish Christianity as the official religion, and to eliminate those who refuse to comply. Blacks and Indians are special targets. We need to bring back slavery! And we can enslave Indians, too!”

“Are you nuts?” Phil exploded with anger. “Bring back slavery?”

“That’s the way to make America the country it used to be, before the anti-Christians took control,” shouted Lydia. “We’ll get rid of abortion, and blacks won’t be able to vote any more. Neither will chinks or Indians. And Muslims. In fact, we’ll get rid of all the Amendments, too, except of course the Second.”

“My god,” thought Phil. “How did I get so bamboozled?”

“Here’s the thing, Lydia. When we got married, all I thought about was the sex. Little did I know that you were so reactionary.”

“What does that mean, reactionary?” asked Lydia.

“It means right wing extremism.”

“So, what’s wrong with that? Barry Goldwater said it a long time ago. He said that ‘Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!’”

“He also lost the election in ’64 by a landslide. Ordinary Americans didn’t agree with him.”

“They should have! That’s why all these left-wing nuts are trying to get the government to take away all of our freedoms.” Lydia was incensed.

Phil was incensed as well. “I can’t figure you out. It sure is clear that I should have thought about more than sex and how beautiful you are. When we first got together, we never talked politics or religion. Seems to me I should have asked you about both.”

Lydia exclaimed “I never took you for a communist.”

“A communist? You think anyone who doesn’t think like you is a communist? Whew! Does this group you meet with have a name?”

“We call ourselves ‘Keepers of Freedom’.”

Phil now knew why their talk about politics always seemed so dull and harmless. They should have been talking about religion. That would have revealed the subversive politics originating from Lydia’s religious convictions. Phil had deduced that Lydia was a Republican, which Phil was certainly not, but he had no idea how extreme she was, all stemming from her fundamentalist religious beliefs.

Phil ventured another question, about what he had heard from Lydia a little earlier. “You said that Jews are greedy and they’re Christ killers. I’ve already told you what I think about the canard about being Christ killers. But what about being greedy?”

Phil was prepared, despite himself, to hear once again the widespread diatribe from too many Christians, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox alike, about the usurious Jews. Here’s what he got from Lydia: “Everybody knows that Jews care only about money. The more money they get, the greater their political power. They want to make a claim on as much money as they can. That way, they think they can rule the world. And again, it’s well recognized that they kill babies as a religious ritual and drink their blood. It says that in the Bible.”

No wonder people such as Lydia were called Philistines or some such by those who were even a little bit rational. “What about Israel?” wondered Phil. “That’s different,” said Lydia. “The Israeli government protects America from the Muslim terrorists. At least as best as they can. That’s why the U.S. government gives Israel so much military aid. It’s not because they love Jews. And anyway, it’s just another example of how Jews will do just about anything to get more money.”

“I don’t know. Your train of thought is completely chaotic. You contradict yourself just about every other sentence or two. I have to tell you Lydia, great sex or not, I’m much troubled by all of this. It seems to me that you’re against blacks, people of Asian descent, Native Americans, and who knows else. To top it off, I’m not clear who you are for, who you favor.”

“That’s easy,” returned Lydia. I’m for Christianity, as long as it’s pure Protestant Christianity.”

“But Protestantism wasn’t around at all until the Reformation.”

“That’s when real Christians took power away from the Catholics and restored the original true Christianity. Until then, Catholics had messed up the religion so bad that it just had to be fixed. So, the Reformation.”

“Tell you what, Lydia. I’d like to come to one of your meetings of the ‘Keepers of Freedom’ so I can get an idea of what the rest of the members think.” Phil was already forming a plan to get out of his marriage to Lydia, but he was also curious.

“No way that can happen,” exclaimed Lydia. “I’ve already experienced a few instances of people breaking into our meetings and causing trouble.”

“I won’t cause any trouble, Lydia. I swear I’m just curious. I’m curious about people who think so differently than I do. Who knows, maybe they’ll change my mind. Maybe I’ll have a conversion experience and join you.”

“Tell you what. I’ll ask the Keepers at the next meeting if they think it’s OK and I’ll get back to you. How’s that?”


Lydia’s group met twice a week, and three days later they had another get-together.

At that meeting of a dozen or so, they were all surprised to find that Lydia was married to a communist. “He’s not a communist,” cried Lydia, “even though he sometimes sounds like one. But I will say that he’s misguided, mistaken in his views. He knows that lots of things are not right, but he’s got messed up ideas of what to do. But I think he can be persuaded. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to let him come to one of our meetings.”

Four days later, Lydia and Phil showed up at Edna’s house. The meeting places were rotated so no two successive meetings ever took place at the same place. It was Edna’s turn. Edna’s husband Harry was unusual as he was the only spouse of any member who would not take part. All the rest, singles and couples, were loyal adherents to the cause.

Lydia and Phil made sure they arrived late, so all the rest would be sure to be already there. “This is my husband, Phil,” said Lydia upon entering. “He’s a little nervous, so be nice.”

“Welcome, Phil,” said Edna in greeting. “I hope we can make you comfortable, so you won’t need to be nervous.”

“Thanks. I’m sure I’ll be OK in just a bit, unless one of you decides to bite or something,” said Phil with a grin.

“I guess you’re feeling OK already,” said Edna, laughing.

After about an hour of discussion on matters thought pressing, the group felt it was time to address Phil.

“So, Phil, tell us why you’re here. Could be you’re ready to change your mind about a few things.”

“I don’t think so, frankly, after listening to your discussion over the last hour. What I was hoping to get by coming here was an understanding of why you feel the way you do.”

“You must have some idea after listening to us talk. All the decent people in this country, decent white people, have been abandoned by the ruling cliques, the rich, the liberal politicians, the ones who control everything. And they’re setting things up so people like the blacks and others who used to know their place get all the breaks,” said one of the men.

Another gave yet an additional opinion. “The Jews and the Muslims, the terrorists, are taking away all of our rights, and our money. They want Christianity, white Christianity to be wiped out.”

“They’ve also allowed immoral practices such as abortion and birth control. And maybe most important of all, they want to take away our guns, so we can’t protect our families. The Second Amendment says that we can carry guns, long guns and sidearms, anywhere we think necessary, and that includes open carry, in schools, businesses, stores, restaurants, and anywhere else, not just in our houses.”

Another man said that “groups such as the Keepers were going to make sure that these things would be dealt with. If necessary, they would outlaw the Constitution. If that couldn’t be done, they’d make sure that blacks and such would not be able to vote. Anyway, it will probably be necessary to put a strong leader in power, a leader who could not be challenged when he made a decision. And another thing, gays and other faggots, what the commie liberals called LGBTQ+, would be made illegal.”

“Well,” said Phil finally, “I’ve been listening to all of you give out your views, but what bothers me is that you’re not logically consistent. Some of what you say contradicts some other things. It doesn’t make sense to talk about freedom, freedom you claim you had in the past, and then talk about all of the things you’re going to forbid.”

“Depends on what you mean by freedom,” chimed in Isabelle. “There’s all kinds of freedom. You can have freedom from something, or you can have freedom to do something.”

“Leaving aside your peculiar grammar,” ventured Phil, risking alienation, “which kind of freedom are we discussing here?”

“Hmm. There’s lots of freedoms that the folks we oppose cotton to that are just plain un-Christian.”

“So, if it’s not part of your religion, then it has to go?”

“That’s about it. Our religion is the only true religion, and we aim to keep it pure. None of that commie-inspired garbage.” That was Isabelle’s conviction.


Later, the car ride as Phil and Lydia returned home was eerily quiet. Neither had much to say. Not yet anyway.

“How could you insult my friends like that,” exploded Lydia after they got home. “I took you to that meeting because you promised not to cause trouble.”

“I didn’t insult anyone,” yelled Phil. “I was just reacting to absurdities, and I certainly was not the troublemaker. Look, Lydia, we have to think about where we’re going in the future. I never dreamed we were so different. Maybe I was just blinded to it all by the sex!”

A couple of weeks later, Phil was looking for a jacket in Lydia’s clothes-closet when he saw an object hidden in the back. He looked there because he could not find the jacket in his own closet and thought maybe it was put there by mistake. Lydia was not home. She was at one of her meetings. Curious, Phil retrieved the object and unwrapped it from its cloth covering. To his astonishment, he found an assault rifle, which he recognized from TV to be an AR-15 style weapon. Phil broke into a cold sweat. He was visibly shaking, but he knew there was more to be found. In Lydia’s dresser, at the back of one of the drawers, he found a magazine and boxes of ammunition. Phil reasoned that Lydia reasoned that since he never looked in Lydia’s dresser, or in her closet that they were safe locations.

Just then, Lydia entered the house. It seems her meeting was cut short. There was an altercation between two of the men, and, to Lydia’s horror, shots were fired. No one was hurt, but the meeting was definitely ended. Then as Lydia was driving away, she saw a police car pull up. Someone had called 911. Lydia called one of her friends, Jane, on her cell phone. “What’s going on?” “Geraldine called 911. She’s an informer. Be glad you got away. I did too. But I think some of those who stayed will be arrested.” “Damned cops. We’re right to want to defund them. All they do is persecute righteous white Christian Americans. I’ll talk to you later, Jane.”

“Lydia, what are you doing here?” Phil, coming down the stairs, was surprised to see her. He was also a little scared, given what he had found in Lydia’s closet.

“Meeting broke up. Turns out we have a spy in our group, a communist or a socialist, and he got into an argument with Billy. Harry, the one we have been worried about, was there ‘cause he drove Edna to the meeting. He tried to break up the fight, and Billy drew his gun and fired.”

“Did the other guy, the guy you call a communist, shoot too?”

“Naw. He didn’t even have a gun. Communist coward. Billy shot him in the arm. His right arm.”

“So, now what?”

“We’ve gotta lay low, find out who else is a spy, and get rid of him.”

“Well, I’ve gotta tell you, I hope you stay out of trouble yourself. My god, Lydia, I found an assault rifle in your clothes closet. That scares the shit out of me.”

“Stay out of my goddam closet, Phil.” Lydia ran upstairs and came back down with the rifle with the magazine attached.

“All right. That’s it,” said Phil. “I’m done. You should go to Edna’s house and stay there. I’m going to get a divorce.”

“No, you won’t, Phil. I need the money you bring in to support the Keepers. Just sit your ass down and listen. I don’t care what you believe. You’re wrong just about all of the time, but I’ll put up with it for your money.” Lydia had never been so straightforward about how much her relationship with Phil was because of the money.

“No, you don’t,” cried Phil. He lunged toward Lydia to take away her weapon, but he was too far away. Lydia lifted the AR-15 and fired.