• Bridge Ladies

    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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I Heard He Sang A Good Song

I once went out a bathroom window during a blind date. Said date had a cockatoo and exactly one book in his apartment, prominently displayed on his coffee table: U R WHAT YOU DRIVE. He lived on the ground floor in “rustic style” condo development that boasted big bathroom windows. I actually sacrificed a leather jacket I had recently bought at Loehmann’s and left it on his “coat rack” because I couldn’t face him, the cockatoo, or the book. (In all honesty, the coat, like most stuff you buy at Loehmann’s, wasn’t that great so “sacrifice” is a reach.)

Another blind date, a mid town bar, turns out the guy was, shock of all shocks, writing a book. It was called “Coattails.” And, yes, it was about how he got ahead by riding on other people’s coattails.

Next up, a naturalist I had a wicked crush on. He was cute and mean, a toxic combo for a girl with low self-esteem and high expectations. I made of fool of myself for around six months while he kept taunting me with pages that never materialized. And, yes, pages is a euphemism.

A boy I loved in Senior year of high school resurfaces after twenty years with a…manuscript. And to think of those nights on the hood of my Monte Carlo, reading Rilke and talking about suicide. What does it come down to: a manuscript about his dog.

And so it goes. What is the point of this post? IDK. Just a nostalgic rainy evening to steep in some of life’s dreamy miseries and indignities. Got any?

24 Responses

  1. me at twelve, me at fifty

    it was the spring of the chartreuse dress
    and pony tails and brown knee-high boots
    and when I tried to learn the hula hoop,
    my skirt lifted like a parachute, a trapeze.
    you don’t like my retrograde clothing,
    you don’t follow fashion renaissance,
    are not the boy I crave in summer
    which crashes like rapids at the day’s end
    rushes out as a murmuration of starlings
    pulls a magenta curtain over the last warm day.
    somewhere tonight, in some Indiana purlieu
    a fireman’s carnival barker sells the last dart.
    carnies rest the wheels and lower the ride fulcrums
    gypsies close their makeshift shacks of gramarye.
    I prop my heel against the brick and smoke
    blowing rings toward infinite possibilities
    but flicking the glowing ash in a lateral pass toward home,
    where a lonely house sparrow waits again for spring.

  2. out of the two boys i slept with in high school, one of them has a daughter who is the only other 6 year old girl on my daughter’s soccer team.

    the first night on the soccer fields, i endured an agonizing 3 minutes where i introduced him to my husband:

    me: “c, this is, uh, b. we, uh, went to, uh, high school together.”

    later during the game i pulled my husband aside to tell him that b was the b i dated in high school.

    my husband: “dated?”
    me: “yeah, dated-dated.” (with both eyebrows raised.)
    my husband: “nice.”

    you can take the girl out of high school, but you can’t take the awkward-we-slept-together-when-we-were-in-high-school aftermath out of the girl.

  3. Your lines He was cute and mean, a toxic combo for a girl with low self-esteem and high expectations. I made of fool of myself for around six months while he kept taunting me with pages that never materialized. And, yes, pages is a euphemism. Was like a shot between the eyes. I know him. He’s 46 now and he hasn’t changed.

  4. Not feeling near as nostalgic as Betsy or poetic as Leslie. My miseries are more current and more shallow. See my blog post from last night for details, if you care. And if you don’t care, then just put me out of my VERY latest misery and tell me whether or not I should really keep this red in which I had my entire foyer (along with high ceilings) and the adjacent hall painted today. Too much color in a foyer? Seriously, I need to make a decision. I’m hurting here.

    • Sherry, I love the red, but that’s just me. I have a warped sense of color. Just yesterday, I swear, Carlos, one of our building workers, was painting the police box and fire hydrant in front of our building bright red, and I told him to please come paint my entire apartment in that color. I envy your red, so keep it.

  5. i seem to recall swapping spit with a guy named Todd at a party while, in the background, music blasting ‘Stroke Me’. yea, that was a shiny moment. i was gorgeous at the time. he had a mullet.

    ah. the eighties.

  6. “dreamy miseries”

    Lovely phrase.

    Yes, so many, but tonight my old miseries feel very distant.

  7. I’m old and I’ll be dead soon and I’ve never told anyone this. It’s been a heavy secret to carry for a whole lifetime, like wearing a lead coat. I was hiding the secret only from myself, though, because no one else would care.

    When I was twenty-one (almost a college graduate) I was engaged to a boy I fell in love with when I was thirteen. I’d never seen anyone that gorgeous and he chose me to be his girlfriend all through high school and college.

    A few weeks before our wedding, I opened one of his textbooks and found a letter he’d written to a friend but hadn’t mailed yet. In it, he announced that he was getting married soon. He went on to say that he didn’t love me; it was a marriage of convenience.

    I didn’t even cry. I wanted that boy so much that my stubborn little heart folded that revelation and hid it away in a dark cupboard of my mind, just like that boy had folded that letter and left it in his geology book. (I’ve often wondered if he wanted me to find it and let him off the hook.)

    Of course, the marriage only survived a few years. You can’t build something that important on air. They say your first love is the deepest and they’re right. Even if it is only one sided.

    • Wow, that is heartbreaking. I would have told my mother, my three best friends and my therapist in the first twelve hours after finding a letter like that but I was a bit of a sharer at that age. I guess I didn’t technically have a therapist back then but I think I would have gotten one for the occasion..

      • In “those days” going to a therapist just wasn’t done. You waited until you went completely off the rails and then they committed you to an asylum. Besides, I didn’t want my mother and my friends to know. I wanted that boy.

        My story does have a happy ending. When I was thirty, a man who was crazy about me asked me to marry him. We have thirty eight years and two grown kids to prove that when you’re an adult, you make much better choices.

  8. I love this post. It makes me want to laugh and cry. Low self esteem and high expectations. No better way to put it than that. I think there were people who probably did care through the years but I could never grasp why anyone would want me so did some pretty insane things.

  9. Moral of the story: you can’t tell guys you’re a literary agent when dating. They’re all writing a book. A bad book.

    My worst date ever? (Since we’re sharing) A guy picked me up in a Truly Nolan Bug – like with antennas on the roof and a tail attached to the trunk. Later, he was driving too fast and we got pulled over. He ended up selling the cop pest control service.

    Yes. So I know pathetic.

  10. I love it that you just left
    reminds me of my favorite country western refrain and frequent strategy
    “if you see me getting smaller i’m leaving”

  11. A remembrance from a guy’s perspective.

    When I was a junior in high school I dated a very cute and fun girl. We fooled around but we were virgins and it never seemed crucial that we ‘do it’ so we didn’t. At the end of the school year she went off to Europe with her family for an extended period of time while I went out to a resort town on the tip of Long Island to work for the entire summer. We had sort of broken up, but in that ‘we’ll see what happens’ type of way.

    At the resort I met a stunning young woman who’s father was very famous and who was on a very big yacht at the marina where I was working and living on my family’s boat. She was also a year older than I was, a big deal when you are in high school!

    We hung out for many weeks, fooling around quite a bit. She did NOT believe that I was actually a virgin when I told her. She continued to not believe me throughout the first half of the summer.

    Then my maybe-ex came back from Europe and I went back to my hometown around the same time. Low and behold we were at my house alone, she was emboldened by her european experience and we ‘did it’.

    Then I made a mistake. I invited her back to the resort with me for a few days. I know, how stupid and mean can a guy be, right? I think dumb and unconscious are better words, but …I know.

    So we hang at the resort for a few days. The resort girl is introduced, the two circle each other warily for a few days. It hurt both of them to see me with the other and I was completely oblivious to it. After a long weekend the maybe-ex goes back home. Whew, easy enough! Awkward but over. LIke I said, oblivious.

    But then the resort girl keeps egging me about being a virgin, which for the first half of the summer I really was. But now I wasn’t. But I had told her the girl was my ex, not my current or maybe-ex and so of course I still was a virgin and so…I was in a bit of a pickle.

    I ended up going back home and the maybe-ex became an official ex. That was ok with her, she was easy breezy and whatever about it all. She had some other boys excited about the ‘european’ girl now so it was cool with her.

    The resort girl and I ended up becoming official GF/BF and I lost my ‘virginity’ with her. I later told her the truth and she just used it as proof that she had been right all along and that I had done it well before I had ever met her.

    We stayed in contact but didn’t stay together after the summer, she moved down to Florida after High School to seek her fame and fortune, I went on to a zillion other places in life. But we stayed close and became the dearest of friends over many, many years. Today still.

    The maybe-ex and I got in contact after 25 years and I she told me she thought I was a very kind and considerate boyfriend back then. I was happy to hear that my dumb, unconscious and mean actions weren’t remembered in too much detail but I never forgot that, whether they remembered it or not, I really could have done so much better in caring for both of them that summer.

    • Marty! How the hell are ya!?

    • My guess about your maybe-ex’s comment from 25 years later is that you probably WERE kind and considerate in comparison with other boys that she had known before or met since. Some boys, in high school and even later, are not as nice as the girls they date, but it seems you were an exception.

      A similar thing has happened to me–I apologized to a former girlfriend for having been neglectful, and she pretty much waved it off. And since the neglectful period in question was a good ways past high school, I count (or counted) as one of those boys/men who aren’t as nice as their girlfriends.

  12. I had fond memories of an army sargeant in Texas. We did the long distance thing for awhile and made plans for me to move out there. One morning I called to have the phone answered by a very catty woman. Catty due to her claim she bedded him and he was hers now.

    Of course I told her to keep him. That morning he got in his car and drove all the way across the country to me in NY. Quite the road trip. I let him say his piece at the door and promptly shut it.

    Yes, I was that catty. (Hugs)Indigo

  13. Bullies never got me out of my lunch money in junior high school but the painfully cute guy one grade above me did on a daily basis. No fourteen year old boy should ever have that kind of power. He must have heard that pimpin’ ain’t easy and decided to go with whorin’ instead.

  14. A cockatoo? Now that’s just plain Boca Raton. Glad you got out of there …

  15. I’m a bad-boy-aholic. I have so many stories, why, I could write a book… called U R WHAT YOU DATE. Then leave it on my coffee table and see what happens. Honestly it couldn’t make my love life any worse… and I might score a jacket out of the deal.

  16. Senior year of high school. (Oh, this is going to feel good,) Crush on boy I met when he visited relatives in my city. Pre-college visits season and I went out to Portland to check out the college he’d committed to. He picked me up at the airport. We hooked up before heading over to the college. The rest of the weekend he ignored me completely because he had a girlfriend from home who was also there. End of weekend, he wants to take me to the airport, I took a cab. Three years later, he finds me visiting my aunt and uncle in Portland, calls to apologize. I told him I had no idea who he was, no memory of him at all. “There were so many….” He was crushed he didn’t get to be the big hero for trying to make up. Are you kidding me? Asshole.

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