• 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 Place The Flowers In The Vase That We Bought Today

Spent the day in Boston. I’m going to be honest with you: my hair looked great, which sets the tone for the whole day. Am I right? First, I met with a client. I was the editor on her first book 23 years ago and we’re still going strong six books later. We’re like an old married couple except we don’t find ourselves silent at a diner where we have nothing to say. Then I met with a prospective client who you can immediately tell is not only a leader in her field, but a great communicator. Very exciting to spend some time in her lab. Then I had lunch with one of my first authors. She’s a big deal reviewer now and the author of eight or nine books. As gifted as she is gracious. I used to always joke that she should write an author etiquette book.

Then, it was a two publisher afternoon. One an old friend, the other a new colleague who is publishing one of my client’s books. Her office was grand with books of substance everywhere. I forgot how much I love a good field trip. I love seeing the offices where people work. I like stepping into their world. It was unseasonably warm and I had a few minutes to think about things as I walked through Boston common. Is there anything more lovely than a young man with a satchel strapped across his chest and gray slacks hurrying with a paper cone of flowers for his girl? Or a pretty table set with best dishes and candles? Every beginning is beautiful. Every vase filled with flowers on a cold February night. I didn’t feel like myself. In other words, I felt good.

How was your day?

48 Responses

  1. Today was a Monday, which always sucks. Plus it was Valentine’s Day, which always doubly sucks. But as I sat at my desk moping and bitching, I received an office delivery of flowers, a stuffed animal and a box of chocolates: from my 19- and 21-year-old sons. Talk about feeling good. I’m right there with you, Betsy.

  2. Oh, you make me miss Boston, where I lived for 17 years as a Harvard undergraduate, a Brown grad student, and finally a communist trade union and community organizer. I walked across the Common many times in the late afternoon — the golden dome of the State House, the Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial, the swan boats, make way for ducklings, and over there, the Combat Zone. You rush me back to the old Atlantic offices too and the march down Commonwealth Ave, an actual one after a big anti-war rally and an imagined one into the Back Bay of James and the Bostonians. Thanks for the memories, Betsy.

  3. Sounds like a great day, Betsy. Invigorating, engaging, stimulating and fun. Sounds like today you were truly alive.

  4. A paper cone of flowers…I wish I’d gotten one of those.

    • The paper cone of flowers caught my eye, too, All Adither. And imagining the soft grip around that cone.

      I spent the entire afternoon standing in my driveway, in the rain, trying to convince the city engineer that shaving one inch off of one corner of my driveway would not cause the entire neighborhood to flood. The good news? I didn’t need to wash my hair.

  5. Lovely. My dad invited me to a Phoenix resort where he’s taking a conference. We were supposed to meet for dinner. He’d shaved his beard since I’d last seen him (a year-and-a-half ago).

    I spotted a man who I thought was my dad sitting at a table. I asked the hostess to set another place and walked up to the man and hugged him and was met with what I thought was Alzheimer’s befuddlement. Yep, wasn’t Dad. Was a skinnier older version as it turned out. I bought him a bloody Mary and my dad, my real dad, told me the guy probably thought I was an escort service.

    But hey, it was Valentine’s Day!

  6. Grand is the news that Betsy felt good–and in Boston, no less (kidding! I kid!).

    Now who’s the dapper rabbit? And is he single? Straight?

  7. My 16-year-old has been in floods of tears all evening. I did manage to coax her to the big bed for some spooning under the covers and a series of cool washcloths, then back again to her cave with a glass of warm milk, a box of Kleenex, and a Maeve Binchy novel. Out of sheer desperation I even tried a lullaby. (I think we were both embarrassed.) Poor baby. I’m out of mom tricks. But she’s wound down to a sniffle now so either she’s run out of gas or I’ve done my stuff.

  8. Ah tis a large day this. Nice one…

    B

  9. Is there anything better than a good hair day?

  10. It’s very quiet here.

    I can imagine the scene in Boston. Toured the town up, down and around about 20 years ago with a young man who just sent me a second Valentine.

  11. Had a good day, but my 10 year old daughter had a better one. She received 8 cookiegrams from various admirers. I wonder if it’s too early to look at shotguns…

  12. My day went nicely, thank you, but was mainly distinguished by a very fine muffin from Balthazar.

    I’m intrigued about that “potential client” in Boston who’s a “leader in her field” and has a lab. Maybe one of those accomplished women at Harvard or MIT? Maybe even Harvard physicist Lisa Randall? I hope I hear more.

    • Can’t forget Tufts either. There are some fabulous nutritionists over that way. At least one I know should write a revised edition of her book.

  13. “How was your day?”

    It was good. Nothing exploded and no one tried to kill me. My umpteenth wife still loves me, none of my kids (as far as I know) is in jail, I harvested the daily small crop of dollars and still had time to read a page, write a line, and watch a spot of viddy, and I have both a pot to piss in and a window to throw it out of. The beat goes on.

  14. I didn’t contact you about my book because I can’t imagine having an agent whose name is Betsy. So I contacted one named Danielle. I tried a male agent, too, but there are so very few of them.

  15. I schlumped on the couch and coughed and hacked and drank four gallons of tea and crawled to the bathroom and back.

    And whined a lot, but that’s nothing new.

  16. Nice post. Very nice. Me? Every day is the same day. Nothing to say really. It’s pretty quiet around here.

  17. Betsy, your hair looked great. In Boston. In February. While you were out running from meeting to meeting.

    You win, sister. Mary Tyler Moore’s got nothing on you.

  18. My day. Can’t really comment on it, since I consider days recovering from travel (eight-hour train trip, 4.5 in a taxi out of Kolkata) as “lost” days.

    But it was swell to be reminded of Boston, a place that took a hold of my youthful imagination when the TV series Beacon Hill was on the air, and I decided that Boston was the locus of my ultimate destiny. Oddly enough, it was.

    After nearly becoming a junkie, I rediscovered Krishna consciousness, moved into the temple on Comm. Ave., and wound up selling those flowers in paper cones (one bunch for $3, two for $5) from a pushcart next to Filene’s Basement for minimum wage, and reading scripture in between rolling cones for people running to catch the Red Line. The business was owned and run by Hare Krishnas, and it kept our expensive temple afloat for years.

    It was the best job I ever had. Those little bouquets got me out of the Combat Zone, which would have been my alternate ultimate destiny. Yes, there is nothing more lovely than a paper cone of flowers.

    • Was this when you were living in Jamaica Plain, Tulasi-Priya? Or am I misremembering the drug story you posted–with the crazy lady at the party and the cemetery walk and the snow.

      Was in Boston from ’89-92. Worked at a nursery school in Beacon Hill, took writing classes in grad program at Emerson. Spent a fair amount of time at MIT, wandering through long shiny hallways with my then-boyfriend who was studying engineering there. Only braved Filene’s basement a couple of times upon friends’ urgings–now *that* was a Combat Zone. Actually I believe one of my favorite haunts was in or near the actual Combat Zone, as was a palatial Chinese restaurant where I occasionally hung out, late at night, watching mafia types return from strip-shows and settle in to smoke and gamble into the wee hours.

      Could be a tough city due to cold. Good little literary scene there though.

      • Yeah, Melissa, I lived in Jamaica Plain. You could very well have seen me in that Chinese restaurant, since I went once or twice with a “mafia type” and his cronies to get a bite, and some “special tea”—beer served in a teapot after hours.

        Actually, the mafia type was Frank Salemme Jr., son of Patriarca crime family boss, “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. I don’t think Junior was a mobster, just liked to spend (Daddy’s?) money. I never got too close to him, but he wasn’t the sort to demand anything just because he spent money on you.

        Shopping depresses me, so I never braved Filene’s Basement. I wanted to go to school at Emerson, but Mom refused to let me leave the nest.

  19. I got awesome copper highlights in my mouse brown hair and now I’m going for a run. When I’m done I will know what is missing at the beginning of Chapter 6.

    • I like the sound of that. Pleasant physical exertion can do a lot to make the pieces fall into place mentally.

  20. hmm…piano lesson. Played Brahms waltz okay

    visited homemade chocolate store to buy a ton of chocolate. Hallmark store for Valentines.

    worked on freelance proofreading job

    went to weight watchers meeting–lost a lb

    rejection form letter in mailbox–ick

    went to a friend’s concert in a cold church–shivered through new age music and Bach

    home…flowers and a tiny box of chocs (because of weight watchers) from my husband…

    that’s it. pretty boring…but thanks for asking…

  21. don’t remind me of Boston! I have a recently unemployed daughter there who calls frequently to yell at me about her problems!
    But I did have a nice day, wrote some decent pages(finally), yoga with a friend, Belgian chocolate store for spouse and son, home to flowers and superlative dinner out. just a little too much (hic) Montepulciano d’Abruzzo…

  22. It was a brilliant February day in Texas. I opened the doors and could practically hear the buds bursting forth on the trees. Even lunch outdoors. Early spring in Texas, it’s our best asset. My valentine brought me a brilliant pink potted azalea and I returned the favor with a heart shaped deep dish pizza. Plus a luscious Kenwood Jack London cab. It was a good day.

  23. It’s always a good day in Boston, but especially when it’s 50 in February and the sun comes out in the afternoon.

    Yesterday? I sold out. Hypocrite walking.

  24. Played some tennis in the morning, made some progress on a campaign I’m working on in the afternoon; I was all talk and no action with my personal probelms but Rome wasn’t built in a day so…

  25. How was my day? Well, I was yelled at by a client. Apparently, I lied to her. I’m a child welfare social worker so I’m used to people yelling. Once upon a time, I had a job when people never yelled at me. I wrote erotic copy for a swimwear magazine. Best job ever! (The pay was crappy and I had no benefits, but there were compensations.) A photograhper came in one day and asked to meet me. He said anyone could take pictures, but the stuff I wrote . . . . I was eight months pregnant at the time, by the way. Those were the days . . . .

  26. Awww, I love a happy Betsy. 🙂

    And, a good hair day certainly does get a day off to a great start. Sad but true.

    You asked, and the truth is, my Valentine’s Day was delightful. Husband spoiled me with many presents, shopped for and made a delicious filet mignon dinner and dark chocolate covered strawberries and champagne for dessert.
    The sun is finally shining up here in the NE (NJ in my case) and almost all the dirty snow has melted away.

    Have a spectacular week, Betsy.

  27. “How was your day?”
    Are you kidding me? Check this out: I went to work in the basement of a medical device manufacturing company making catheters (up to 95 cm long) that drain the terminally ill of their errant blood, pus, and/or urine! However, I was able to smuggle my notebook into the clean room and spend an immoral portion of the day writing – so I had a great day.

  28. “Is there anything more lovely than a young man with a satchel strapped across his chest and gray slacks hurrying with a paper cone of flowers for his girl?”

    Maybe. But not a helluva lot more lovely a question. Even if …gray slacks cannot hurry by themselves I saw them flutter and wrinkle with a smiley crease of anticipation when offering those flowers. Wait! The cone! Cone of flowers. PUUURFECT!

    Cone. CORNUCOPIA.

    To me, your question reads like a near perfect poem.

    O ! Your poetic eye and turn of phrase. THX. BL!

    For the blooming abundance of your words.

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