• 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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If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home

Ten Things I Don’t Need in 103 Degree Heat:

1. Trying to buy my NY Post after a long, hard day of superagenting, everyone pushing ahead of me, but instead of grabbing the top paper they have to pull the paper second from the top. Seriously? The second paper is hygienically superior? Untainted? Take the top fucking paper and move on.

2. Escalator etiquette: right hand side is for people who stand. Left hand side is for people who walk. So please move your skinny ass and the Samsonite suitcase with the “identifying” blue ribbon and move the fuck over. I am a commuter and the perfectly calibrated route from office to train can not be trifled with.

3. Two editors sounded exasperated with me today. Me? Really?The queen of collaboration? The middle child still trying to make everyone happy. The former editor of sixteen years who actually respects the process. Annoyed with me? Awesome!

4. Ninth reminder bill from HarperCollins arrives for books that were supposed to be comped. It’s a shame the hairs on the back on my neck are not rockettes.

5. A former client emails with asking a favor. Delete.

6. I don’t need one more person asking me about Kindles and IPads and what they mean to publishing. What they mean is that some people are going to read on screens, but most people still won’t read at all.

7. I do not need a mediocre cup of ice coffee for $3.54 and you know who you are. I’m sorry, I love you, cute little place two doors down from our office, but the iced coffee is crap and the price is insane. Plus, as my partner rightly points out, they give you a look if you don’t leave the change in the tip cup.

8. I don’t need to check my blog stats as frequently as I weigh myself in order to determine self-worth.

Four bucks and it's half ice! Do I sound cheap?

9. I do not need to turn fifty next month, but since I am my goal is to do it as fucking graciously and demurely as possible from that day forward (Aug. 9 if you need time to shop). Until then, I remain my usual raging cunthead self.

10) And I don’t need any commenters to chide me for bad language or my self-loathing. In the first place, self loathing is more than an address, it’s where I live. In the second, this blog is my persona. I’m really loving and giving, self-loving and giving, gentle and kind, just a big old hug of a gal.

What do you not need?

44 Responses

  1. I don’t need singsong-y, passive/aggressive voice mail messages: “Hi-eee, haven’t heard from you in a while. Just checking up on you, making sure you’re ohhh-kay.”

    I don’t need to pay over $300/night to stay at the fucking Best Western in fucking TEL AVIV. Seriously.

    I don’t need to go to that writer’s conference next week, which seemed like such a good idea 4 months ago and became exponentially less attractive as the date grew near.

    I don’t need to hear how fortunate I am to be able to attend said writer’s conference. I know. Irrelevant. Duh.

    And, for the record, I skim the posts where you’re anything but your usual raging cunthead self.

  2. “I don’t need one more person asking me about Kindles and IPads and what they mean to publishing. What they mean is that some people are going to read on screens, but most people still won’t read at all.”

    I pretty much want to marry you.

  3. Good luck with the demure gracious schtick after you turn 50.

    I turned 50 last August and it does things to you. Some good, some bad. I’m better at standing up for myself, the result of realizing my life is more than half over and why the hell should I spend what’s left putting up with bullshit or getting jerked around?

    On the other hand, I now realize what a shallow vain creature I truly am. Occasionally, I’m the older woman in the room, the one who was somewhere when Kennedy was shot, who owns crows feet and saddlebags, who won’t wear thong panties because Jesus God who wants their freaking underwear all up in their snatch? and I HATE it. I used to get looks. Now, I’m invisible.

    Growing old gracefully is just some pap you spout when you’re nowhere close to growing old. Now that I’m there, I’m not f’ing graceful. I’m caught in a paradox of being still in the world, but having to be careful lest people think I’m trying to be young. This is evidently a great sin against humanity. God forbid that a 50 year old woman not turn into a staid matron. There’s a rule that we can no longer listen to metal music at volume 10, or get a little too tipsy and laugh too loud, or wear Bohemian rags. I don’t know who wrote these rules, but I think it was the same asshole who came out with the Don’t Wear White Shoes After Labor Day.

    But that’s all surface. What really does begin to needle into your brain is the reality that you’re no longer ‘going to do that, someday.’ This IS someday, so do it now, or forget it.

    In summary, Betsy, please don’t become demure and graceful. You’ll loathe yourself even more. Trust me, I know. I’m older than you.

    • Stef, I turn 50 in a few months’ time – I hear you loud and clear . . . although, about the eyesight . . .

      My book club recently read Half of A Yellow Sun and some of the younger members had no idea that Biafra used to be a real country. I’m guessing they weren’t subjected to the starving children in Biafra lecture at the supper table.

  4. I don’t need to suddenly have the pleasure of experiencing constipation – nor do I need my husband to chide me for not eating enough grains like it’s my fault God didn’t put those in candy, meat or cherries.

    I don’t need to meet my family in Toronto so I can be broke for the rest of the summer.

    I don’t need to be completely turned off of the agents I follow on twitter – for what reason, I’m beginning to wonder – whose snark is hardly as endearing as they seem to think and excuse me little miss I’m 25 years old and if anything should be sweet as pie to make up for that instead of acting like someone farted in my frosted flakes, stop complaining about how much you don’t make and how many jobs you have to have.


    I probably don’t need to talk anymore.

  5. I don’t need an earthquake to roll me away from my desk just as I’m getting somewhere on the page.

    I don’t ever want to be deprived of your full tilt savvy spirited voice. Live another 50 will ya.

  6. I do not need to have another discussion with my husband about turning off the air conditioner at night to save the environment. The environment’s pretty much shot to hell when it’s already this fucking hot, and I can’t sleep when it’s 95 degrees.

    PS–What the hell does fifty have to do with grace? I second Shanna. I enjoy the cunthead self.

  7. I do not need my son to be in the hospital this week. I do not need the pediatric nurses to consider themselves the Great Freaking Wall Of Protection who take it on their own authority to REFUSE to page the damned doctor after she failed to call me during the day and then went home at 2pm.

    Nurse: Well she’s at home now.
    Me: I don’t mind if she calls me from home.
    Nurse: She has children.
    Me: I have children too.

    I do not need the grey-faced humorless social worker to schedule meetings and then refuse to tell us the purposes of these meetings and also refuse to tell us that no treatment will be started until I’ve gone to these meetings but then all be utterly unavailable at any normal time for said meetings. I do NOT need for these people to answer questions I have not asked while completely missing the purpose of the question I did ask and getting exasperated at *me* for not understanding what they’re trying to say.

    Nurse: Why are you here?
    Me: I’m dropping off my son’s clothes.
    Nurse: You can’t see the doctor now.
    Me: That’s fine, because I’m dropping off my son’s clothes.
    Nurse: Did the doctor call and say you could come?
    Me: I was told by the admitting nurse M. that I could come in the morning to drop off his clothes.
    Nurse: Usually the doctor calls to schedule a meeting time with the parents, so you can’t see the doctor now.
    Me: That’s fine, because I only want to see my son to give him his clothing.
    Nurse: The doctor is in a meeting and can’t see you.
    Me: Can you bring me my son now?

    I do not need to be so clear that a three year old who only speaks German would understand what I’m asking and still be misunderstood by everyone in this stupid hospital.

    • This would be hilarious if it weren’t so real. Hope your son recovers quickly.

    • You have the patience of Job if none of these nurses are dead yet.

    • Hospitals are the best place to display one’s inner raging cunthead. Collaboration, amelioration, rationality, and reason have no place in this environment.

      And best wishes to you and your son.

    • Please let us know that your son is home and doing okay. And you, too. What a nightmare.

  8. Profanity, thy name is Betsy. But you swear it well.

    I don’t need to feel like an outsider after 10 years in England. I still haven’t cracked the code.

  9. Betsy, you’re such an amazing writer that I was wishing more crappy things had happened to you yesterday so the list would keep going.

  10. Well, since you asked . . .

    I don’t need my cat to wake me up at 2:30 AM because she’s hungry. My response: you’re on a diet, get over it, and get the fuck out of the bedroom. I’ll feed you at 3 AM! Yes, I know, I could get up at 2:30 AM, feed the little wretch and go back to sleep. It’s the principal of the thing.

    BTW – love your post and need a daily dose of it!


  11. Graciously and demurely? Ha! Good one!

  12. I fucking LOVE your bad language.

  13. “Until then, I remain my usual raging cunthead self.” That made me laugh. You’re so funny.

  14. I don’t need Washington, D.C. to have ONE more day of over 100F and to hear that the subways are not working and the power outages are spreading and that water pipes are bursting.

    C’mon, it’s the nation’s capital. Someone HAS to know how to run things. This place falls apart in the snow and cold as well as in the heat.

    And people here also take the second from the top NY Post.

    We have to leave tips?

    What I do need is to read your funny stuff!

  15. Perfect. Didn’t think I could smile today – proved me wrong.

  16. Betsy, I don’t know you and only wound up on your blog after following some links related to _Next_, but I find you hilarious and immensely likable. Congratulations (really) on your birthday next month!

  17. Love it! Thanks to Alison Kent for re-tweeting Randy Susan Meyers’ tweet of your post. Oh crap, I just said tweet twice. Oh no – thrice!

    I make my iced coffee at home. Much cheaper. Of course, I rarely go anywhere outside of the park so I’m not exactly a socio-economic hero.

  18. Don’t need most of what I think I need.

  19. I could live without cat vomit. I’m over it this time.

    And I could live without being reminded of my own age. I was up at 3am thinking about this guy I had an affair with ten years ago. He was 47, I was 34. At the time, I thought he was charmingly old as in sophisticated and a little out of my league. Ten years later and significantly closer to 47, I see now he was just another mental teenager fucking a younger woman so HE didn’t have to think about getting old.

    The bit about checking your blog stats resonated with me. That’s all too familiar. Ditto on the weight, self worth, dislike for comments about your self-loathing and being the middle child.

    I guess I’ll make my own damned iced coffee. I’ll still get a look from whichever hooligan is standing with the refrigerator door open, staring in like it’s going to tell them all the secrets of the Georgia lottery, but at least I can send them to their rooms.

    • “Ten years later and significantly closer to 47, I see now he was just another mental teenager fucking a younger woman so HE didn’t have to think about getting old.”

      I love this. And it is true.

      • Thank you. You have to know that I totally understand why he did what he did and if I could get away with it, I’d probably being doing the same thing. If I thought it would help.

  20. As a journalist, I don’t need publicists telling me “Done!” when I request an advanced copy of a book for a feature, and then the book doesn’t arrive, my emails are ignored, the deadline passes, and the poor author will never know how close he came to national publicity. Happens once a month that a publicist doesn’t get the book to me. (Controlling self from naming names.)

  21. I can’t help but want a day when I don’t fear the page. I don’t need this damn fear. I read a story I started a while back, loved it (bad transitions and all), then quickly donned the comforting blanket of hatred of myself. How can I feel high after running laps around the sentences, only to curl up into a fetal ball of self-loathing when the next day starts … and there’s more blank page to fill?

    I don’t need the blank page. It needs to be filled miraculously by cute bunny feet in the night whilst I slumber in my forced dreams that make believe I’m in the right business.

  22. Here is an offering to perhaps? Mildly? Misguidedly? suggest an alternative to shit iced coffee everywhere.

    A fellow writer shared it with me yesterday, and I was so astounded by its brilliance and resourcefulness — in a very Abbie Hoffman, Fuck The System kind of way — that perhaps among this community it will be welcome.

    Here goes.

    An espresso shot at Starbucks costs seventy cents.

    If you order (4) shots of Starbucks espresso, in a COLD VENTI CUP, OVER ICE, then add milk on your own, you now have a GIANT ICED ESPRESSO, with a real wallop, for $2.80.

    Okay, it’s a drop in the bucket during a heatwave at the end of civilization, and it requires stepping foot in Starbucks, but it’s what I got.


  23. 1. I don’t need to take the top paper that is all scrunchelled up and has someone’s boogers all over it after I’ve plunked down my hard earned money.
    2.I don’t need someone sighing and rolling their eyes because I’m standing comfortably on an escalator. My 300lbs just won’t squeeze any closer to the right rail.
    3.I don’t need to talk to some snarky Lit Ag.
    4. Don’t need any more people asking for comps.
    5. Don’t need someone to ask me to wait on them and then not tip me. Don’t they realize how little I make? And they can afford $3.54 for a coffee!?
    6. I don’t need to be in my 50s anymore. Fortunately I will be turning 60 soon.

  24. I don’t need people with gross, deformed feet thinking it’s okay to wear flip flops.

  25. I need more posts like this one. Thanks for the laughs.

  26. On the topic of turning 50 — I say, when it comes to living, and being anywhere north of 40, there’s a right way and there’s a wrong way:

    Tina Turner does it right.
    Elegance, style, beauty, and enthusiasm.
    Of course we cannot all be rock stars —
    and there are so many styles of beauty–
    the point is, not letting anyone else
    in the world
    create a negative definition of us at ANY age; just do your work and look your best. People can have Great Style at every age. We create our own style.

    There was a comment — “I used to get looks, now I’m invisible” — I’ve heard a very similar quote, two places: in an episode of “Law And Order” and in a magazine — possibly Allure. In both places, the comment related to someone’s reasons for having plastic surgery.

    The idea that a woman is “invisible” after — such-and-such age, whatever, is being marketed to us, it appears to me, simply to sell plastic surgery. It’s an advertising strategy — make the consumer feel bad about something, then offer her (or him) a way to remedy it: “just buy this, credit available.”

    People should be getting too smart for that nonsense.
    (Alternative Sentence: People should be getting too smart for that bullshit.) — which is better?

    • Not to put too fine a point on it: Older woman don’t get looks from males. I’m no longer prime real estate for bearing children, and above all, humans are still driven by instinct. That’s what I meant about being invisible. I’m accustomed to feeling attractive, of being desired. Now, I’m overlooked. It’s not as if I was suddenly attacked by an ugly stick, but I’ve passed from 30+ years of fair fertile female to a future as old wise woman, and it’s going to take a while to get used to it.

      It’s a rite of passage. When I was 13 and a boy I thought was icky kissed me, I decided kissing and boys were straight from Hell. A year later, I fell in mad love with a guy and when he kissed me, I changed my mind. On my wedding night, I wanted to go home. When I gave birth, I wanted to give her back. I’m clearly not comfortable with life change. I’ll get over it. Look me up in a year or two and I’ll say growing older seriously rocks and why did I hate it so much?

      At least, I hope like hell that’s what I’ll say.

  27. damn but I love your song lyric choices!

    my ring tone is: got some things to talk about, here beside the rising tide

    I’m with Jim: don’t need much of what I once thought I did (and if you try some time, you just might find….)

  28. i don’t need some punk ass housepainter with a Blackberry staring down his quivering nose at me when i mention that the windows are painted closed and shouldn’t he fix that.

    i don’t need the same punk ass housepainter snorting cocaine from a rolled up cone of edging tape in my front yard.

    i don’t need to be fleeced so a punk ass housepainter can afford both a Blackberry and cocaine.

    i miss my last incredibly sexy Eastern European housepainter, the one with a penchant for classical music. on September 11th, he cried all day long, Dvorzak swirling, and painted my house with love and pathos.

  29. Oh, Bets (do you loathe that?) I hate to tell you, but turning 50 was when I *became* my true raging-cunthead self.

    I mean, what’s to lose? Besides, you’re a stitch.

  30. […] get you ill tempered? Yeah, agent-writer Betsy Lerner also.  Read her list of Ten Things I Don’t Need in 103 Degree Heat (unless you are a nun or something—Ms. Lerner don’t mince no […]

  31. I don’t need people telling me to “Relax!” when I bitch them out for making tasteless cracks on sensitive subjects that hurt people too shy to call them on it. As if relaxation were the zenith of virtue.

  32. The answer to your question about the newspaper is there is a possiblity the one on top is missing a section or more. The one underneath often has all its parts.

  33. […] get you ill tempered? Yeah, agent-writer Betsy Lerner also.  Read her list of Ten Things I Don’t Need in 103 Degree Heat (unless you are a nun or something—Ms. Lerner don’t mince no words.) This entry was posted in […]

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