• 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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I’ll Send You All My Love Every Day In a Letter

I’ve been so preoccupied with my heating pad that I’ve completely forgotten to make arrangements for next week when I’m on vacation. I have no guest bloggers lined up and these things don’t write themselves.

Here’s what I’m hoping. I’m hoping that one of you motherfuckers will FINALLY write a vampire novel for me to sell in April at the INTERNATIONAL London Book Fair for seven figures. And here’s what I’m thinking (and you’ll notice I’m GIVING THIS AWAY), do not make the vampire beautiful with pale skin and large incisors, or zombie-like with rivulets of blood escaping the corner of his mouth, or mashed up with Pearl S. Buck. Why can’t the vampire just be a normal guy who sucks the life blood from you, shits on your face, and then leaves you when he finds someone better. We could call it Harvard Vampire or Vampire Empire, or Drink It.

And here’s the ideal client: please be younger than 25, please be going to Harvard, have graduated from Harvard, or dropped out of Harvard but not because you had a run of the mill nb, but more in the G/Z fashion. Please have a story published in the New Yorker or work at the New Yorker or New Yorker. Please don’t get an MFA unless it’s from Iowa. Be hot! Have lips! You could also look like  Colin Firth.  Be striking! You could have a British accent. You could be Eastern European. Or from Fond du Lac. Please do not have worked a gillion jobs including anything on a freighter or short order cook and feel the need to talk about it. You could date a top writer on The Daily Show.You could write articles in New York Magazine about sex at private schools. You could have soup with Lorin Stein. Or share Tina Brown’s acupuncturist.  Or you could  be the child of someone famous like the one of the Farrows or Hailie Jade Mathers or Frances Bean.

Have a great writing week. I’ll miss you more.

89 Responses

  1. So, what you’re saying is I’m the perfect client? Have a great vacation.

    • I used to watch Dark Shadows in the basement. In 1974. Does that count?

      Have a great (non-electronic, unless it vibrates a dental chair) holiday.

    • Ha, what I meant to say is so, you’re saying I’m NOT the perfect client. I wonder if those brain boosting games really help.

  2. I am not a one of those things. But I’ll miss hitting my eyeball-burning-smut quota every day while you’re gone.

  3. How about a vampire novel in which the vampire’s middle-aged, twice divorced, lives on a trust fun (a really old one), and sees all former hopes of finding lasting love die off every time he watches tv instead of going out to bite babes who are, in truth, t0o young for him? Is that dude sexy enough to sell? No? Ok, does it work as memoir?

    Fuck all. There goes my shot.

    • Yes, David, I like that Vampire. I’d read that book. But you know me, ever the cheerleader!

      That’s the good news. The bad news is, Franzen already did it.


  4. Well, hell, let’s take a look:

    I’ve got lips. I’ve attended the ISWF. I’m hot in that sexy, peri-menopausal way. My British accent owes a lot to Dick Van Dyke, but after twenty episodes of Torchwood in five days, Welsh is no problem. And in a certain light I do resemble Colin Firth.

    Maybe I’d better work on the writing skills instead . . .

  5. I’m on vacation too next week. I’m going to Disney World to frolic amongst the pedophiles. I just got a spray tan so as I update my Facebook profile with mobile pictures of me and my kid smiling oh so bigly I won’t look like such a Pacific Northwest ghoul.

    Sorry I can’t help you out on the Vampire book deal, Bets. My lips are thin, like all European aristocrats.

  6. i’ve got a buncha interconnected short stories featuring drunk expats.

    no vampires. just a diabolical night porter offering prostitutes to Load Toad at The Skyline Hotel in Guanzhou.

    have an enjoyable break.

  7. I’m your girl. My very-normal-guy eastern european vampire sucked the fucking life out of me, uh, my character, and left me for a Cuban vampette who went to Harvard and taught at Harvard and they both taught and ate and hung out at Harvard and had baby Harvard’s and were very Harvardish. He shit on my face on a volcanic beach where he left me for Miss Harvard, who became Ms. Eastern European Vampire Shit Face. They went on to have a very normal vampirish life with no blood sucking and drooling and pale skin but rather they looked like your average NE preppies, albeit from eastern europe, with collared polo shirts in pink and green. They wore Sperry docksiders and shopped at L.L.Bean and Ralph Lauren. I killed them both.

    As for me, your ideal client, I went to Harvard (several times, took a tour, bought books, even went to the chapel for a lecture, lingered in the Yard in a romantic sort of way), I am younger than 25 in vampire years and the New Yorker published a story that I would swear was the one I wrote and left behind on the subway two years ago. They noted it was by an unknown author so I’m sure that was me. I never worked for The New Yorker but I did work many years ago for Daughters of Sarah, a feminist magazine, a lot like Ms. I don’t have an MFA and just tried to talk my friend out of enrolling in one. I am hot. I have lips. I’m striking. I look nothing like Colin Firth. If I had to say, and I don’t, I’m more of a tree than a forest. I don’t have an accent, except when I’m in France speaking French or in Russia, speaking anything. But I do have a KGB file and I think that’s pretty cool. I sure as hell don’t want to talk about my former jobs and I’m not dating a short order cook from Fond du Lac. I hung out for a few hours with a top writer from The Daily Show — what’s his name, the British guy with glasses — while their bus was parked at the Democratic National Convention. That was cool. I know he really got me. I just wrote about sex at a private school on my blog, a private Christian school in fact, and my in-laws were embarrassed. Hell, everybody who had sex there was embarrassed. I don’t know Lorin Stein but I like the conducting of Lorin Maazel. And my parents. Yes. My parents. I am the child of those bugworms they have just discovered in racoons.

    I hate vampires, vampire books, books about vampire books, movies about vampires, creepy trailers of vampire movies and I didn’t used to be bothered by blood but the association to vampires has ruined blood for me, too. I don’t swear quite as much as you do but I can make my kids blush and my husband has simply given up apologizing for me, not that I appreciate it when he tries. I find it cliche to say so but having rigged a few sails, I can swear to you that I can swear like a sailor.

    What do you need again?

  8. Perhaps while you are on vacation, everyone can continue commenting on ivy league vampires, dental chairs and story plots so that once you return, we’ll have a collaborative novel – the likes of which will make you the envy of the London Book Fair and sell for least eight figures (I’m converting to Euros)!

    enjoy your holiday!

  9. Okay, I’m zoning in on three words:




    Betsy’s coming to London !!!

    I google the Int’l Book Fair to get the dates April 11, 12, 13.

    Betsy’s in London, we’re with Mickey and Goofy.

    And, that my friends, sucks more than any vampire can.

  10. Can you swing by Switzerland?

  11. The New Yorker. Sigh.

  12. Y’all:

    Let’s show Betsy. Let’s keep writing a massive amount of comments. August, from what I hear, we may need you. Also, some IDEAS could be helpful once we stop riffing off this column…

    Yours truly, Jody

    • Been thinking about the vampire conundrum while I should have been paying attention to a ceu (or maybe it was because of…) Anyways – why must the vampire be male? there are sooo many opportunities for a female character to completely upend the “traditional” expectations of What Is A Vampire. I don’t know why I am posting this at 10pm-ish – I’m already imagining a plot that won’t let me sleep well tonight!

      Happy weekend, all!

    • Why clutter up her blog? It’s not starfuck’s coffee hour.

  13. Have a great vacation, Betsy. Easy on the back. Think beautiful thoughts, of no clients at all. Pure mountain streams, butterflies, little goats with tinkling bells around their necks. Get in touch with the inner inner Betsy who wanders such a landscape. Go to her. Stay with her if you can. But be prepared to bleed.

  14. Are vampires metaphorical soulless corporate profiteers who will suck the blood right out of you and drain you dry in ways you never knew were possible? Each day vampires, ghouls and monsters appear in the news. I’m thinking a Dick Chaney-type as one of the main characters, maybe Sarah Palin in a supporting role; no doubt about her bloodthirsty orientation.
    London in April. Bring your slicker and wellies.

  15. I’ll be in Mexico with my senior in high school daughter and 29 of her best pals and the best pal parents trying to live up to my reputation as the Mother Most Likely to Say Something Disturbing (was that Ritalin or Adderall they were snorting by the pool, what’s up with the no-hair down there thing) assuming I’m not back at the room shitting my brains out. How about a Charlotte-based investment banker vampire (Harvard MBA) who is able to suck and siphon blood to a series of above-ground storage tanks located in a temperature- controlled warehouse in the Cayman Islands.

    • 30 high school seniors in Mexico? Are you mad? Remember no fresh anything. If it doesn’t come in a bottle or an aseptic box, leave it alone.

      Oh, and if you see a guy named Pablo down there? Tell him the Princess is still pissed off about that iguana escapade.

  16. A sobering and must-read post for aspiring wide-eyes dreaming of breaking into the book biz.

  17. Sorry, but all the umpires I know are smoking hot. As in, they have been graced with Angelina Jolie pouts and James Francoesque armpit fur. Oh wait, you said vampires. Sorry! This ageing lovechild of Louise Brooks and Charlie Chaplin is a bit slow on the uptake these days. Though honestly, don’t you think vampires are played out? I mean, really, when they start naming tampons after them … hmm, then again, maybe it’s just me who does that.

  18. No Harvard head here, twice twenty five and more in love with Ahab than ever. Gate keeping blood suckers will kill American letters yet if we don’t watch out.

  19. Wow, hardcore precepts. I’m counted out on this one. Don’t even know what Harvard is and if you let a vampire shit on your face you didn’t fight back,.shame on you; shame on your humanness. The worst vampire there is is a penny pinching piece of shit that thinks he, or she, deserves the money you did the work for more than you do. Ah, the world we live in. My girlfriend keeps telling me I should get used to it and just accept it, but I can’t. Good Luck! Have fun! And good luck with the under twenty-five having anything to say but the world isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Really? Why is it than? I do need to add that I can’t imagine Harvard is any different than any other school. You can listen to NPR and get the same information. Ah, processing, critical thinking, didn’t that used to be free in high schools? I’ll pay my taxes for that. And by the way, a clove of garlic a day keeps the doctor away. That’s not a joke.

  20. PS. Betsy, as clever as I try to be, I honestly thank you for your book. I hope you get rich as hell some day.

  21. Sorry! One More. Sound track to The Wicked Child: I’ll give it a rest after this.Thanks again!

  22. Once more through the hoop and then never again. You’ll see. I have will. :

  23. Everybody else says “have a unique voice” and “build a platform” which apparently means “blog in text-speak like you’re 14 yrs old even if you’re 40.”

    Thank-you Betsy for giving us the truth. 🙂

  24. Oh you are so funny! I am on vacay right now as well and was not able to hire anyone to do writing for me either. Sigh.

  25. You found your guy.

    I’m a little more Paul Rudd than Colin Firth and I’m Princeton and not Harvard. Also, I never met Tina Brown, but I was Judith Regan’s assistant years ago and she asked me to move in with her (I declined). So I’m a little over 25 and since I live on the west coast I was recently featured in LA (instead of NY) Magazine. And finally, I never dated any of the writers on The Daily Show, but I’ve produced short films by half a dozen of them.

    Oh, and I just finished my first book. So write me when you’re back from vacation.

  26. Yay!! I’m the first one to comment today! I even beat…….. Betsy.

    (old habits ‘n all…)

  27. Yep, Betsey went off and left us. No messages, no cuss words. I’m bereft.

  28. How can I be expected to make it through a day of parent-teacher conferences and 4-8″ of new snow without a post…damn Betsy and her brilliant missives.

  29. Really? REALLY? I’m so NOT the perfect client… except for the being hot part (I think).

  30. Do you all think that with constant and attentive reading, say for twenty-five years, it is inevitable that you will become a good writer?

    • Not necessarily. My mom reads constantly but writes like she’s sending a telegram.

      • @Glasseye,

        Wow….that’s amazing. I guess, when I think about it, my mother was the same, although she was better than a telegram. I suppose it’s like me and music. I listen to classical music ALL THE TIME, but I don’t play an instrument, and, frankly, I’m not even a particularly effective listener.

        Okay, there goes the wittle theory!

      • A kindred spirit. I’m listening to The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns right now. Cello makes me weak in the knees.

        Do you ever listen to movie scores?

      • Most any cello makes me weak in the knees, too.

  31. Hey. I’m having my morning coffee. Where is everybody?

  32. Coffee done, and I’m home from FINALLY getting my a new driver’s license (from DC to Maryland). Why does it freak me out to do this? I have some kind of irrational fear of the Division of Motor Vehicles….is it because my last name is CARR?????

    What about the rest of you? Does you surname say anything about you?

    • Between being adopted and divorced, I have too many names to count.

    • My surname is the same as a John Wayne movie that evidently everyone loves, given the response when I spell it for them (M-small c-capital L etc.) What does that say about me? I once had red hair like Maureen O’Hara. Does that count?

  33. My maiden name was easy to spell and pronounce, and I NEVER had to help people write it. Then I foolishly took my husband’s name, and nine times out of ten it’s spelled incorrectly unless I spell it out very slowly, with a giant pause in between the syllables. It doesn’t look hard to spell, but I am having to get used to being Mrs. Lehay, Leahy, or Leahey. It’s a pain in the ass name.

  34. @Jess,

    Bummer. I hated my married name, and one of the few pleasures to being divorced was the return to my maiden name, Carr…. even if it does mean I have these strange fears of DMV offices.

    What was your maiden name, if you’re willing to share it? Kind of curious/wanna analyze.

    • Potts. There’s a character Mrs. Potts in Mary Poppins, but most people have heard it from the name of the kindly teakettle in Beauty and the Beast, which I never liked.

  35. @ Jess:

    St. Top (Saint Top)


  36. @Mary Lynne:


    (“Time will bring you moolah.”)

  37. @Jess:


    Also, trying for a little levity!


  38. I never got married so I have the same Irish surname that I was born with that I have never liked — in fact, most of my life I believed I was Scottish because of my first and middle names — so I’m glad I never had the confusion of a new last name. I had lots of honeymoons, though, so no worries!

    Bonnie Jean!

  39. Well this doesn’t work for me. I’ve got nowhere to vent. Jesus Christ, Betsy, vacation? I hope you’re having a terrible time.

    A couple more days and I’m heading over to Rachel Gardner’s blog to call everyone motherfuckers.

  40. Whatever you do, Betsy, don’t waste your time going to the Savoy for a martini. They’ll just pour a thimble’s worth of gin in a parfait glass, shove it at you as if you were contagious, and charge you 10 pounds.

    I hate the Savoy. There. I’ve said it.

  41. Thursday, 7 a.m., it’s raining, I have coffee. But no Betsy, no smart-ass comments to read. Guess I’ll have to go read the national news. Shit.

  42. It’s just typing. Seriously.

    And Anonymous, honey, you need to loosen up.

    • thanks for giving me something to laugh at – I’m tallying up billable hours for the Day Job and it looks like another bleak month…

  43. Morning Musings:

    I just read Liz Taylor was late to her own funeral. I wonder what Dr. Phil would say about that.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me to further learn he and the “info-tainment news shows” orchestrated the delay to provide a topic for their programs.

      But seriously – were vampires involved?

  44. Hi Betsy–
    It’s Friday. and then it’s the weekend.

    You said you’d be gone for only a week, right?

    So that means you’re back on Monday, right?

    Are we there yet?

    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?

    • I’m with you, kinda, I ‘m two-thirds through her first version of Forest for the Trees and I hope she’ll be back but she might not. Mothering is hard, so is fathering mothers, so if she isn’t any time soon, read her book, there is nothing more to do than write and try. Than again, why write? The internet is the best connection we have to our fellow man in the whole history of people. Maybe, and I might be, of course, speaking for myself, Imagine that!, and I could be wrong, and I don’t want to put anyone out of a job, but if we can communicate so simply and quickly, why not? Ah. money: That bitch, that abusive butt-fucker. Who the jell came up with that? I have a few bones to pick with that person. And not to be an asshole, which some people call me, if you don’t know whether or not you are a, what is called, a traditional writer, you might be a human connector, high-speed. Ah, shucks, I’m gonna miss the greats, and I guess, hope for a power-out. Come-on! Nature!

  45. That was me. I forgot to sign in —

    Are we there yet?
    Are we there yet?

  46. Oh, good lord, leave the woman alone. Let her recover from her jet lag and get down a gin and tonic before she think about US.

    (Call me! Missed you! The internet has not been the same without you!)


  47. We’re chasing our tails by the front door, Betsy.

  48. She tweeted yesterday. She’s home. She clearly doesn’t love us.

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