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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Let’s Not Do Lunch

May I please have the dressing on the side?

I want to write about a strange publishing phenomenon which I call phantom lunch or faux lunch. This is where a lunch invitation is extended that will never materialize. Or when you actually have a date but then start canceling and rescheduling, knowing that you will never actually sit across a table from this person and stuff a California roll down your gullet.

The faux invitation: we’ve all been there when you are the recipient of a vague invitation, an email, say, that ends with a p.s. let’s do lunch. If it isn’t followed with some possible dates to actually have lunch, then it’s a faux. An empty gesture. Don’t be fooled. It doesn’t mean let’s have lunch; it means let’s not have lunch and say we did. Or, in a perfect world, we might be cooking raw beef over a Korean b-b-q, but we’re not. Or, I’m vaguely interested in you and haven’t totally written you off, but that doesn’t mean I’m prepared to sit for an hour and a half and watch you scarf the chicken paillard at Molyvos.

Then there’s the cancel/reschedule dance. Big show of being sorry about rescheduling. No, no, no, I totally understand. Your next free date is months from now. Then that gets bumped. Then the next. It’s one thing and another: author in town, editing a crash book, sales conference, yeast infection, family brutally murdered by random attacker. Oh god, I hate when that happens. Well, don’t worry, we’ll reschedule when you’re back in the office. No worries. Well, my friend, highly fucking likely that you’ll be enjoying the roasted cod with fingerling potatoes at Balthazar. Your lunch date ain’t happening. Trust me on that.

17 Responses

  1. OMG. This is so totally true. Like, I can’t wait to talk more about it. We just HAVE to discuss this over lunch.

    Wait, I’m busy that day.

    Call me though, Betsy, ‘k?

  2. Don’t you just love those Roman Chairs at the Uptown David Barton?

    Let’s do crunch.

    – T

  3. Reminds me of my favorite New Yorker cartoon. Guy standing at his desk, on the phone. “No, Thursday’s out. How about never? Is never good for you?”

  4. Sounds like married sex.

    Does this ever happen with offers to buy a book? An editor says she wants to buy your manuscript, and is so excited by its potential that she’s willing to give you the exact same amount of money that JK Rowling got for _her_ first book! So you vow to switch to another house the instant the book becomes a huge success–and then realize that this sub-minimum-wage offer is more that than every other publisher offered combined, that figure being precisely zero.

    So you say yes, you’re thrilled, you’ve always wanted to work with an editor so young that you’re breaking three laws by emailing her before her subscription to Humpty Dumpty magazine expires. And then, offer in hand, you wait–but the contract never materializes? And she eventually withdraws the offer?

    I’ve always wondered.

    Also, I’m supposed to remind you to write about determination. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about confidence, too. Sometimes I think that’s my fatal flaw; a lack of confidence. I’m timid and tenuous and care about the market and the readers. Other times I’m pretty sure that if I really unleashed my inner genius, I’d write unreadable swill and run around bragging that I’m published on lulu.

    • I’ve made a note about determination and confidence in my “Blog idea notebook.” This is a small red Moleskin sent to me by a commenter. Just sayin’.

  5. August: “Sounds like married sex.” *Snort.*

  6. Betsy, meet me halfway for lunch sometime? Great!
    By my calculations that would be a roadless area in Northern Manitoba.

  7. Had that happen JUST THIS WEEK. Contact an old “friend”. They say how much they’ve missed getting together – how they could use some encouragement and sunshine.

    I suggest dinner. At my place. After 5 emails negotiating date and time we’re set.

    Until last night. Very sad eMail. She must cancel.

    And I remembered the umpteen other times this exact scene occurred. That’s why I’d let contact end. HOW STUPID OF ME TO FORGET!

  8. I love the pic. It reminds me of my first husband after a St. Patty’s Day drunk.

  9. August is right, sounds like some domestic dodge.

    My beef is with parents who use their kids for all their bow outs as if procreating automatically exempts you from behaving with any honesty. “Wish I could, but Madison is sick.” Again. Ah, uh.

    Lunch, with you, the next time I’m in NYC. Would love it.

  10. I mean, really. They have to come up with a better lie than that murder thing. From then on they have to pretend the whole family’s dead and that’s a big hassle.

  11. Hilarious and all too true. Brilliant.

  12. Hi, Betsy. First visit to your blog. Love this.

  13. Otherwise known as the uptown/downtown == east side vs west side showdown in which neither party wants to travel and the lunches keep getting cancelled.

  14. […] the lighter side is Betsy Lerner’s Let’s Not Do Lunch on the “strange publishing phenomenon which I call phantom lunch or faux lunch.” I especially […]

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