• 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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You Really Really Like Me

"I really, really like me."

What is it about acceptance speeches that are so revolting (besides the fact that if someone else is giving one it means we haven’t won)? Even actors, trained thespians, can’t manage to pull it off. My theory is two-pronged. First, winning automatically reveals the level of desire and we’re not supposed to be so craven in our desire to win; it’s unbecoming. Second, it’s like watching someone masturbate in front of a mirror. It’s got the James Spader vibe of intense self-love parading as dead inside. (But I will defer to a certain commenter on the subject.)

When I win the National Book Award, here’s what I’m going to say: I have to thank Myra Fassler, high school English teacher, and Jorie Graham, Pamela White Hadas and Richard Howard, poets and teachers. Ugh. Start over: I have to thank the mental health professionals who…scratch that. Start over: My family…waa waa. Start now: I have no one to thank. I wish everyone would go fuck themselves. Do over: I wish to thank my agent, my editor, and my methadone counselor. Okay, enough. Give me your best acceptance speech.

Watcha got?

25 Responses

  1. I’d like to thank my agent, my editor, my best friend in the FBI, my former boss at the NSA, and the President who asked that he not be named directly. So thank all you anonymous guys!

  2. I’m going for the most obnoxious acceptance possible, though I’m certain it will easily fool several people.
    *eyes glistening with tears aaaaaand go!* “Silence is the perfectest harold of joy. I were but little happy if I could say how much.”

  3. So, I’ve managed an entire week without a comment here, because I’m on a writing vacation and made a friggin’ VOW to allow no distractions. But this post, Betsy, weakened me.

    “I want to thank my sixth-grade teacher, who told me she’d come back and haunt me if I didn’t do something with all my talent. (That horrified me, as Catholic school teachers are apt to do.) I want to thank all the assholes in my life who strengthened me into the pseudo-bitch I am. And I want to thank my general ineptness at life, which cornered me into writing, which is both fulfilling and demeaning at the same time.”

    I will not, however, thank the state of Tennessee, which promised me bears. Haven’t seen a one.

  4. Either I’ll do a Gwyneth Paltrow circa “Shakespeare In Love” or the following:

    I have to thank my mom, a writer and librarian, for elevating the practice of writing in my mind above marriage, birthing of children, exercising, socializing, education, and happiness. I would also like to thank all the impossible relationships in my life for aiding in the metaphorical head against brick wall experience that I’m convinced is the true genesis of all creativity.

    (Boy, what a bratty acceptance speech…I just don’t think I could pull off a good Gwyneth.)

  5. Either I’ll do a Gwyneth Paltrow circa “Shakespeare In Love” or the following:

    I have to thank my mom, a writer and librarian, for elevating the practice of writing in my mind above marriage, birthing of children, exercising, socializing, education, and happiness. I would also like to thank all the impossible relationships in my life for aiding in the metaphorical head against brick wall experience that I’m convinced is the true genesis of all creativity.

    I just don’t think I could pull off a good Gwyneth.

  6. “I’d like to thank me, Bruce Barber, for being me, Bruce Barber.”

  7. One of my favorite acceptance speeches was given by Emma Thompson at the Golden Globes in 1995. She channeled Jane Austen to accept the award for best screenplay for her adaption of Sense and Sensibility.

  8. “I’d like to thank the fine people who gave me this award for picking me and not realizing I’m just pretending to know how to write.”

  9. wAIT, WAIT!!! LET ME PUT MY PANTIES BACK ON. i’M READY FOR MY SPEEEEEECH.

  10. My speech:

    I’d like to thank me and all the hard that we’ve done. I hope we can keep it up for another one of these [insert award]. Also a shout out to Mom for spending nine hours in labor and delivering me on the day JFK was shot. You’d be surprised how many people will inform you of that (as if I have not already figured it out). Love you, Mom.

    Alright, I’m gonna hit the bar…

  11. Can’t I just show a lot of cleavage?

  12. I’d like to thank that S.O.B. creative writing instructor who trashed my writing and said I couldn’t put two words together. That fueled my desire to prove him wrong. And now, because of him, I stand here tonight accepting this award. And you, you S.O.B. you can kiss my literary a**. And this award (holding it up and shaking it aggressively) I’d like nothing more than to give it to you….right up yours, buster.

  13. The Brits are best at this–not sure why. Maybe they’re not as maudlin as Americans. But as I’m an American I’m incapable of writing a witty acceptance speech so here goes:

    I’d like to thank my husband and sons for putting up with my peculiar ways. I’d also like to thank those few friends who never stopped asking me, “How’s your writing going”?

  14. Slowly and confidently make your way to the podium. Gracefully accept the statue (or whatever it is they are trying to hand to you) and then lean into the microphone, take pause, look around and simply say, “Word.”

    Then wave a happy wave and walk off.

  15. First, I would like to thank Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen for writing and playing guitar for the song “Panama”. Secondly, I would like to thank David Lee Roth for contributing his vocals to the track “Panama”. Lastly, I would like to thank the people of Panama for inspiring the song “Panama”.

    Seriously, the perfect song for a Friday.

  16. I want to bring controversy back. I’ll emulate Marlon Brando by sending a representative from an oppressed community– independent used booksellers, say– up there to accept it for me, and I’ll instruct him/her to rant on and on about “digital media hoodlums.”

  17. “I’d like to thank Lir, Solomos, Politikos, Engenuus and all the other characters of Miletos who trusted me to tell their story.”

  18. I actually did win a Big Deal writing award and had to make an acceptance speech in front of almost 2,000 of my fellow authors + publishers, editors, agents. I was literally so stunned when they called my name and I saw my book up on the ginormous screen, I didn’t get up. A lady behind me said, “Hey, isn’t that you? Go!” By the time I walked to the stage, up the steps and to the podium, I was ready to throw up. Or cry. Not from joy – from total freak-out fear. My agent later said, “Who WAS that up there?” All those clever things I always thought I’d say – nothing. I mumbled some bullshit, took my little gold statue and ran for the hills.

    Later, of course, I fantasized all that I might have said. Also, that I looked slim and beautiful and all the editors who rejected the book were chewing on regret. One ed said I was trying too hard to be like Janet Evanovich, and I wasn’t funny. I wish I’d said, “Hey, Mister Killjoy, who’s laughing now?” It was, and still is, a lovely fantasy.

    Reality sucked The Big One.

    But the statue is pretty cool. Looks like an Oscar, except that it doesn’t. I look at it when my writing blows, or I hear another no, and can remind myself that I did have those 15 minutes…actually about 2…back in the day.

  19. I once had to make an acceptance speech in front of a bunch of publishing people in tuxes and dressy clothes (I’m more tree-hugger casual). My book was up against four others (including a Tony-Award-Winner’s book). Rod McKuen and another well-known person (can’t remember her name) were the presenters. They announced the five books and showcased them on the screen in the middle of the stage. When the Tony-Award-Winner’s book came up, the room broke into applause. But then, Rod McKuen opened the envelope, announced the winner, and my book came on the screen. I headed for the stage.

    What I remember most was the bright light shining in my face. It was impossible to see the audience or the few notes I’d scribbled on an index card. Somehow, I managed to sound fairly okay as I thanked the Awards committee, editor, agent, etc.. What I’m so glad I didn’t do was hug the poor young man who handed me my award.

    I often think back to that night. This probably sounds uppity or crazy, but I went to that ceremony knowing I was going to win. Why else would I spend a bunch of money on a new outfit (I called the Talbot’s number on the catalog and told the woman who answered that I wanted to look like the lady on page 59–everything, including stockings, shoes and purse), fly 3,000 miles and spend another fortune on a hotel, meals, etc. just to lose. That would be pure nuts!

  20. If I had any idea that I was going to win, I would have drank waaaaay less wine and put on lipstick.

    Thank you.

    • Ha ha! I wish I had the wine I didn’t drink and the fancy shmancy dinner I couldn’t eat before the ceremony! I’d sit here in my crap pants and sweatshirt and have a feast.

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