• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Won’t You Let Me Go Down In My Dreams

For some reason, all of my lunch dates over the past two weeks have been with thirty-something editors. I still can’t quite fathom how I got to be the geriatric half of the lunch date equation, no matter how young, hip and cool I am. Still, I’m the one being courted by ARP, have a teenager, and get erratic periods. I often time travel a little during these lunches when I am visited by visions of my younger self, and I wonder how I ever pulled it off given my powerful impostor complex coupled with a tender misanthropy. And yet, and yet.

There was a two pack a day phase when I wore Ann Taylor suits, carried a Coach tote, and slept with crime writers. When I swam laps at 5:30 in the morning, wrote eleven page editorial letters and threw publication parties in my apartment with the brick fireplace. I hunted blurbs like large game, spent six weeks in London publishing, made a friend for life. Shrink after shrink after shrink. Husband. Baby. Promotions. Miscarriages. When I was in my publishing thirties it was musical chairs and making love to my Selectric. I don’t know how I pushed myself, or what compelled me. Love of language? An Amex card? A place at the grown-up table? And now, what?  What?

What do you dream of, my darling young ones?


77 Responses

  1. Is it wrong that the late 80’s are being flung like a wet rag back to me? I worked for a certain blue-box, Vesey Street company in NY (late 80’s, early 90’s) and we had thousand dollar dinners, drank more than our share of Dom Perignon, treated each other like queens, and I remember I thought, “This is the f-ing life.” As you put it so perfectly, I’d graduated to “the grown up table” and figured this was how it was.

    I’ll spare you the freakishly normal enlightenment. But I ask you, how much did I believe in those Ann Taylor and Tayari suits? Or my sleek apartment of white on white on black lacquer? In the Wang computer and the f-ing IBM Selectric?

  2. I’ve never “lunched,” Ann Taylor and I are not a good fit (on so many levels), and coach bags, to me, are ones that fit in the overhead compartments over the cheap airline seats.

    But heaven, when I was young, was permission to use my dad’s Selectric typewriter with the white keys that made such sounds as the daisy-wheel backhanded the ribbon onto the paper. . .

  3. Deckard.

  4. My dreams you ask? Well, aside from being published my dreams are grossly materialistic and vain. I want enough money to earn me the reputation of an eccentric as opposed to an ordinary bitter asshole. I also want to take a 112 day cruise around the world with my wife and her sister, hell why not, as long as we’re dreaming, right?

  5. I’ve been feeling old lately. I’m 32. This post made me feel young again. My dreams are so non-materialistic I worry about myself sometimes. I live in a log cabin with no running water in Alaska and lately I’ve been dreaming about summer fishing trips and the characters I’ll get to meet. I’m happy. Should I care more about money?

  6. “What do you dream of, my darling young ones?”

    I dream that it’s not too late.

  7. I dream that I haven’t missed the boat.
    That what is in my head will eventually come close to what’s on the paper.
    An agent who says, I get this.
    A publisher who says, I want this.
    A reader who says, thank you for this.

    And that it’s printed on paper with a pretty cover. Tangible. Concrete.

  8. I dream of truth. Not the ridiculous crap I keep coming up with.

  9. I wish when I was young I would have known how to wear my hair better and how to put on makeup the right way. Now that I’m not so young I know how to do all that shit, but, alas.

    As the latest bloomer on the planet, until recently I believed life would just announce when true grown-upness arrived. There’d be a sign. I’d get my crone card and put up my feet and sit my ass down in a perfect chair. But, no.

    Still, with all that, the long, winding mess of a road was the right one after all.

    • “i would have known how to wear my hair better…”


      my hair is the only way i know when the pictures were taken. the height of my bangs are a dead giveaway.

      • I so envy girls who can pull off bangs. My hair is very coarse. Like a mare. Bangs on me are a hideous forelock.

        It’s only now, with a pound of product and a gorgeous Brazilian man who knows how to make horse hair NOT look like horse hair that I don’t walk around with a Grateful Dead-esque bandanna on my head.

    • I’m still trying to learn how to dress . . . i think that skill would have taken me a bit further than I arrived without it.

      Bangs — as a huge-forehead girl, I wonder about those for whom wearing them is NOT an imperative. Can’t imagine!!

  10. I dream of rain. Of cool damp forests with classic spiderwebs covered in dew. Mud puddles and polka-dotted galoshes. Milk chocolate rivers, glossy streets, umbrellas in red and blue. Pine trees oozing sap that smells like ice cream. I dream of teenagers in tie-dyed leg warmers and pigtails decorated with curling ribbon. Bicycle baskets filled with apples and carrots and homemade jam. A row of runner beans outside my back door and the natural world just beyond that. And a huge straw hat, frayed around the edges, tied with a yellow silk scarf.

  11. I was not aware we would be asked to share our dreams here. If you’d like me to do that, I will. But I’ll have to charge you.

  12. Two nights ago I looked up the Amtrak Schedule. I’d invite my best friend along. I’ve never been to New York, New York. So what is she’s gone blind – she has. We’d have to change trains in Chicago. We would stay with my college friend, Gaye, in her Manhatten loft. I hope her husband won’t mind. I need to find money to buy a new dress to wear to the dinner where I’d be given my writing award. Gaye would have a party. She’d invite our friends from college, including my old boyfriends and their wives.

    Then I remembered I have to get published first. I’m 60 years old and it’s not finished yet. How long have I got?

    I loved my IBM Selectric.

  13. I dream of miracles and then they happen. I dream of changing health care, talking to thousands, world tours, and having the energy to do it until I’m 80, and then going fishing.

  14. Do you really want to know my dreams, or ya just asking to be polite?

    Well, here it is, all typed up.

  15. When I was little I would dream of a room I could call my own. One that had a door, with a handle and a lock, even if I never used it. A plush carpet underfoot and a big canopy bed that could hold all my stuffed animals and me and possibly a friend. Only natural light, of course, and every shade of pink to keep Barbie feeling safe and secure. Every single night, as I peered out of the corner of my dirty little window overlooking the constant flow of traffic, both pedestrian and automobile, this is what I clung to. This was my tranquillizer.

  16. Wasn’t the Selectric (II) the most perfect typewriter ever? I quit two jobs before I bowed to the inevitable and learned word processing. (On a Wang.)

    • I agree, it was the perfect typewriter.

      Though I still miss the smell of oil and typewriter ribbons from the old, steel, manual typewriter I was allowed to use as a kid. Lord, the keyboard was stiff—I typed with my thumbs

  17. Your post got stuck in my spam filter. Remember when Spam was just a meat? Sort of.

  18. I dream of being able to manipulate time to my will. I dream of looking slick and professional. I dream of owning an Aga in green. I dream of winning a Jaffe award.

  19. I would like another day on my dad’s deep sea fishing boat with the sun warm on my shoulders, catching fish and giving them away to the sports fishermen who did not have the luck of a child.

    I would like another day on my grandparents’ ranch in Santa Ana, helping Grandma make biscuits or riding on King’s broad back or cooling off in the irrigation ditch.

    I would like to be able to eat abalone steak at a Newport Beach restaurant or find teaming life in a Laguna Beach tide pool.

    Maybe one more visit to MacArthur’s Park with all the sweet green icing flowing down.
    Hence the memoir.

  20. Since I’m 89 years old, I probably shouldn’t comment. However, I dream what most writers dream: selling my book–which at present is about a college botany instructor who takes his summer class to the Sleeping Bear Sand dunes for research, and late at night on top of a dune, he accidentally sits down on a friendly dragon.

    And so it goes…

  21. A cabin in the woods. No more bullshit. Quiet. Maybe a dog or a horse. Lots of lettuce.

  22. Stability.

  23. I dream of doing it all over again. Only better.

  24. I dream of meeting a good man, and handsome; of getting better at writing; of paying off my mastercard; of telling the Man to fuck himself in the ear. I dream in black and white. I dream of One Story. I dream of snowy bright hours at my mother’s kitchen table pounding away on her electric Smith-Corona and making nonsense. I love my Mac. I dream of better.

  25. The ark. Far above it all when the rains came. Reality is, when the flood hits, I’d just be one of the millions washed away, wondering if Jonah’s ever gonna make it by in that damn whale. But that’s in a different chapter.

  26. I just want to know who I have to fuck to get an eleven page editorial letter.

  27. My thirties are coming up on me like a freight train so I think a lot of what I want from my next decade. I dream of working only for myself, being published maybe getting married and having some wee ones (though not in a huge rush on those two counts) and throwing really good dinner parties.

  28. This once young woman, who laughed all the time and meant it, is dreaming that the downslide toward 50 doesn’t totally suck.

  29. I think I may be between dreams right now–I need to let go of one dream and find another..maybe I’ll go to Costa Rica and study red-eyed tree frogs in the rain forest. Not sure….

  30. A day when nothing and no one stands between creators of art and consumers of art.

  31. Believing in love again.

  32. I dream of the poem, the story, that brings together every person I have ever been.

  33. I’m turning 30 today, and am a version of the younger Betsy — I get up at 6:30 am to run at the gym, schedule lunches, drinks, parties, whatever I can do to meet agents and writers, write long, detailed editorial letters, and dream that one day I’ll have an office with a window and a door, a list of authors whom I adore, and that I’ll no longer have to answer someone else’s phone.

  34. When I was young I dreamed of being of being a writer. It took me until I was 55 to get this first book published So far the dream has been everything I thought it would be even during the dark days when I thought I would die before this book got out .Glad I kept at it the current joy is infinately more than any of the past sorrows..

  35. Wow. What Do you want? I’ve been rereading Beckett, and I think you might need to get pissed again. But I don’t live in your world. I only need to say sorry about that most of the time. There’s a big difference if you can harness the emotion. But then, I’m sure, when you need to do what you do you need to stop yourself from stabbing some asshole in the eye with a pen. I can only imagine. Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, what did you want? (Stories that make people nice and the world better?) If so, writer. Love your stuff, think your great.

  36. I dream someone will take a chance on me. I dream that one editor remembers what it’s like to be a hungry twenty-something who is simultaneously defined by want and stasis. I dream that I will stop yearning for real work that makes a difference and start doing it. I’m dreaming and I’m working toward those dreams. Hopefully, that is enough.

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