• 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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Meaner Than A Junkyard Dog

Spoke tonight at the Center for Fiction at the Mercantile Library. I cleverly structured my talk in three parts: beginning, middle, and end. Only halfway through beginning I started to feel kind of nauseas of the Sartre variety. My own voice was sickening to me and I kept banging the little light on the podium. Everyone in the room appeared tired and one guy right in the middle was stone cold asleep.

A ton of people stormed the podium when I was finished wanting autographs and hugs. Some women in a writing group came up and said they expected someone much tougher. They all read the blog and they were shocked to see how sweet and gentle I am. Fuck off. They were surprised at how soft-spoken I am. Fuck off. They didn’t expect someone so nice. Hardy-fuckin-har. People, don’t fall for this nice facade, these dulcet tones. I hate myself and the horse I came in on. Other than that, it was a great night. Love, Betsy

P.S. The Fiction Center is pretty amazing. I’m going to try to go on 2/24.

45 Responses

  1. I hate you, hardee-har-har? Now I have to try and go to sleep. Dammit!

  2. When I read The Forest for the Trees the first time I thought that you seemed nice too. Maybe not sweet, but nice. Don’t hate me. I then discovered your blog and it was like Christmas morning. Sweet or not, I’ll take whatever you give out Betsy.

  3. I heard about your sweetness all over twitter. Good job.

  4. Dawg’s got nice gums. Gets good care. Somebody loves HIM!

  5. I love that someone checked the dog’s gums and commented! Sorry, struck me as funny…

  6. maybe you’re a soft boiled egg, shell-y and goopy all at the same time?

  7. Commiserating. A Bible group was meeting in my coffee house about a dozen years ago, and afterward one of the women said to me, “Oh, I’m so sorry you’re not married.”

    One of those times that really begged for “Fuck off” and I hated that I couldn’t or didn’t say it.

    • That person must have been unhappy, insecure or both.

    • A friend of mine just adopted an Ethiopian baby. A woman in a store came up to them and said, “I’m so sorry you couldn’t have your own.” They can have children (as far as they know) and chose to adopt.
      I said, “You didn’t hit her?”
      “She was old.”
      “Lightly?”
      Ugh, stupid people, bless their hearts…

  8. Complete strangers expect a hug? Ugh.

  9. A constipated audience trumps a diarrheic one – at least they keep their seats.

  10. As hard as you try to be tough, you have only a soft middle–no crust.

  11. The little guy in the photo looks like my best buddy. A couple of days ago he bit the painter. I feigned shock.

  12. I love those compliments. “Gosh, you’re so high-functioning.”

  13. I’ve never known of a New York agent who did not wield a mailed fist in a gloved hand while able to dance with the grace of Eustace Tilley’s butterfly and sting with the unerring jab of a scorpion, smooth as melted butter and cold as a hit-man for an unnamed government agency. So it sounds like you played your part well (though to reach Sartreian levels of nausea, isn’t it necessary to have one’s ass repeatedly kicked by Germans in combat boots?).

  14. Maybe you better not speak at those things…all that unconditional love/adoration is bad for you.

  15. you care which doesn’t make you nice…over time it makes a person crazy and mean…which is why we have art to hide behind, why you can write books like Forest For the Trees which speak to thousands…but then you have to venture back out into the crowd (’til it makes you puke)…so you’ll remember how necessary it is to retreat and make more art, and so on

  16. wasn’t intentionally anon

  17. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were from the South. I’ve found it easy to adopt their well-mannered, but vicious way of being. Bless your heart.

    • Priceless. I have a southern mother who believes no one can hear a loud whisper, and you can say anything followed by Bless Your Heart.
      Betsy, this could be useful. “Fucking wake up!” Then, in a loud whisper, “Poor man’s tired, bless his heart…”

  18. What are we going to do with you, Betsy? You do make me laugh. Hardy-har-har back.

  19. Nothing wrong with nice. And that doesn’t mean you have to suffer fools gladly.

  20. Yes. Even kittens have claws.

  21. Out of body experiences can be helpful. Especially when leavened with a stiff shot of Glenfiddich. Something about the water, I think.

  22. At some point, Ms. Lerner, you may have to accept something: to some portion of the population, you are a rock star. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

    Rock on, sistah.

  23. Sweet Betsy: just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Doesn’t mean those press-on fangs couldn’t draw blood.

    And hardy-fuckin-har is my new mantra.

    • I don’t know which I like better — hardy-fuckin-har or christ-on-a-bike (which I adopted from another commenter here several months back). Both sit nicely on the tongue.

  24. Yes — why is it that the guy who most wants to nap in public always, always gets the seat right in front of the speaker?

    Same for the poetic soul who has to listen with his eyes closed: first row, center.

    And it’s always a male-type human — you never catch the ladies sleeping (must be the mouth-hanging open thing; the gals aren’t into it).

    • Yeah, but an obnoxious lady sitting next to me in the front row at Paul Auster’s reading kept flashing pictures of him right in his face. He ignored her, but I couldn’t…every time my arm slipped over the arm rest, she pushed it back in my direction. I wished she WERE sleeping.

  25. Someone once told me that from my writing they expected me to be sort of sad and square-shaped and were somewhat surprised when I turned out not to be.

  26. Betsy, I was there last night, wide awake. I thought you did a wonderful job — even the lectern light slapstick was entertaining. You do such a good job of toeing the line between encouraging and realistic, and you were generous to share your own stories with us. Thanks for a lovely evening.

  27. I was there last night also. It was a packed house. The talk was informative and I’ve enjoyed reading The Forest for the Trees, which I picked up last night. I think it is great that you shook up perceptions a bit.

  28. When my students fall asleep during class, I sentence them to detention. Just an idea.

    Ohhhh….Lerner detention. All sorts of hysterical images bouncing around in my brain.

  29. Had I been there, I would have been one of the first of your adoring fans to rush the podium! I happened to be at the Center for Fiction the evening before, and saw that you were presenting. I know this is not the forum for personal gushing, but I am pleased to “find’ you again and snoop in your diary…
    Hope to catch up soon!

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