“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” – Aristotle

One of my sisters and I were recently commenting on how much we appreciate our mom and the other people that invested in us as children.

We grew up in a neighborhood made up of African American families, a Polish family, a Hungarian family, several Irish families, Catholics and Protestants.

My sister and I value the commitment of our mom and neighbors to love us and give us moral and social guidance.

The other week I arrived at a bus stop downtown wondering if I had missed my bus.

A pleasant looking black woman stood near the stop with a shopping bag on the ground next to her. I decided to ask her if the #205 bus had passed. She told me it had not, that she was also waiting for it.

We struck up a conversation about a variety of subjects but oohed and aahed over the woman winning billions of dollars in a lawsuit against a cigarette manufacturer.

The woman said, “I bet she’s white.”

“Nope,” I said, “She’s one of us.”

The woman’s mouth dropped.

“Are you sure,” she asked?

“Yes,” I answered, “I saw her on TV.”

When the bus came, the lady and I boarded and sat next to each other, still talking with each other as though we had been friends for years.

She was one of me. And although I’m comfortable with other races, I am aware of my affinity with black folks.

In contrast to the affinity I had with the black woman above is what I experienced a week ago with another woman.

My neighbor was trying to sell his car before returning to South Korea. He was very nervous about meeting a buyer alone, so I agreed to accompany him. He knocked on my door to tell me he was rushing downstairs to meet a buyer.

By the time I locked my door and got outside the building, he was nowhere in sight. I went to the nearby parking lot, saw his car but didn’t see him.

I could only see a middle-aged female driver in one of the parked cars. I sent my neighbor a text, asking where he was. He texted that he was in the parking lot.

As I strained to look into the car with the woman, I saw my neighbor sitting next to her. I wandered slowly toward the car. The woman glanced at me then turned her head away, so I went over to my neighbor’s side and said, “I was looking for you.”

He responded with, “I’ll only be a few minutes.” I moved a distance away from the car and waited.

A van pulled up with three young people just as my neighbor and the woman went over to his car.

Two young women got out of the van and went over to the car. They never greeted my neighbor, nor did their mother encourage them to do so.

The young man remaining in the van asked one of the women if that was her car. She smiled from ear to ear, but said nothing.

By that time I was standing nearby and said in a pleasant voice while smiling myself, “Oh, wow! She’s grinning from ear to ear.”

Judging from the looks I got, I might as well have said, “Isn’t she ugly.”

Neither the mother nor her offspring displayed any semblance of social graces.

As the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and this tree was certainly not producing good fruit. These folks were certainly not one of me (no arrogance intended).

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...