• 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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It’s Just A Box of Rain, Or a Ribbon For Your Hair

Meds? Check. Passport? Check. Notebook? Check. Panties, socks, striped shirts.  Check. Secret project? Check. Powerbars, pencils, lucky necklace, crap magazines, manuscripts. Check. Did I say Passport? Jesus Christ where did this day go? Going to London to bid farewell to one of my dearest friends and the agent who taught me the only thing you really need to know: play it straight. No matter what mess I was in, I could call Abner for advice. He’d listen carefully, turn it over, you could feel his mind working like a master chess player, and then he would  say, you know, I think you should play straight. Every time I went to London, he found a new restaurant for us to try that specialized in Dover sole because he knew I liked sole. And every time, after I took a few bites, he’d look at me and smile and say, “how’s the sole?”

37 Responses

  1. Trying my best to play it straight.

  2. “Play it straight” is good advice. It strikes me that it really means the same thing as “keep ’em guessing.”

  3. My soul is fine & dandy.

  4. Such a long long time to be gone….. All time favorite song. Did you know Phil Lesh wrote it for his dying father?

  5. Safe travels, Betsy, on this farewell journey. Here’s to the sole.

    It seems the more times I check to be sure my passport is there, the more ‘there’ it is. Even at the hotel, I will check the room safe everyday to make sure that damned wily passport has not escaped.

  6. I love that sole are born with their eyes in the regular fishy locations, but as they mature, one eye migrates to the top side of the body.

    As I age, things on my body migrate, but luckily, my eyes stay in their proper places.

    Good travels, Betsy!

  7. We should all be so lucky to have someone with the steady hand to tell us to play it straight.

    And I didn’t know that about the eyes of the sole. Honestly, that’s a little creepy.

  8. I hate saying goodbye to those mentors who, as long as they were around, made me feel safe because they were the old and wise. When, in actuality we were always working towards equality and the passing of the flame. Sorry about your friend. Hope it is a fitting goodbye.

  9. May Abner’s memory be for a blessing, may his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.
    ‘Play it straight’ — 20 years I spent in the legal profession and met so very few who understood the meaning of this moral imperative and followed it …

  10. Meds, then passport? Sounds like my packing list, in that order. Our pharmacists could be BFF 🙂 Don’t forget your ticket/confirmation number — what else to call those print-outs that now define our itineraries?

    For great Dover sole, albeit at a price, have lunch or dinner at the Stafford, a small hotel near Green Park. In 30+ years, it has never failed.

    Happy to hear you’re traveling, but sorry about the reason for the trip. Hope you packed extra meds.

  11. Why don’t people give thier kids names like “Abner” any more?

    In 50 years it’ll be time to honor all those Tylers and Brooklyns and Jadens and Dakotas. It’s not the same.

    I don’t know you, Abner, but I love you.

    • There is a little girl next door to me named Penelope. She looks like Cindy Lou Who and speaks with a lisp, having lost all her front teeth at once. Her nickname is Penny, but I refuse to give up any opportunity to roll out the syllables of the longer version.

      I’m sorry for your loss, Betsy. Abner sounds like the embodiment of his name. May he rest in peace.

  12. No task is more stressful than a long journey to a difficult destination. Safe travels and hurry back soon.

  13. Safe travels. I wish the whole the world would play it straight! God bless you Abner.

  14. Sweet.

  15. Abner Stein was a fabulous human being and he is much missed. He was erudite, deeply literate, an enjoyer. They don’t make em like they used to. (He was my UK agent.)

  16. He sounds like a treasure.

  17. Abner sounds lovely and wise. Safe travels, lady! (Your packing list is almost identical to mine, right down to the striped shirts.)

  18. You should also bring a camera. You just never know when you’ll feel inspired.

  19. You don’t have nothing if you don’t got sole.

    I’m sorry for your loss, Betsy, but glad for your memories of such a wise, amazing person.

  20. Have a safe trip, ma’am.

  21. Wise advice from a good sole.

  22. I didn’t realize the title of the post was from a Grateful Dead song.

    Back in the 90s, I owned a restaurant on King’s Road in London. My head chef was a former heroine addict who worshipped the Grateful Dead. His only earthly possessions were a cheap little boombox and several suitcases containing 700 or so Grateful Dead horribly recorded live bootlegs of the band in concert.

    Perhaps, I was rash in my assessment, but following this experience, I never was able to give the Grateful Dead the respect they may have actually deserved.

    It was like I developed a Dead allergy.

    I’ve just read the lyrics to the song that Betsy chose for the title of this post . The last two lines are:

    “Such a long long time to be gone
    and a short time to be there”

    Compared to the big picture, none of us exist on this planet for more than a fleeting blip. How we choose to spend our time while we’re here is up to us. I know that I’ve been reckless with mine.

    For me, it’s time to reprioritize how I spend my time and energy.

    R.I.P. Abner Stein

    • English people don’t get jam bands. That’s not a value judgement, it’s an observation.

      Americans didn’t get Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Or Oasis. And I still don’t know why the Stone Roses weren’t HUGE here.

      I married a Dead Head and from what I’ve been told Jerry didn’t write lyrics, so you’re still safe from ever havng to LISTEN to Dick’s Picks. Me, too; I just read the words.

      • Vivian, I think Dexy’s first record, “searching for the young soul rebels” is one of the greatest albums ever made.

  23. it’s great that you’re giving your respects to what sounds like a great man.

  24. It’s the shortest distance.

  25. Betsy, that’s beautiful. And I hope your soul is well. When tears mingle with rain, more nutrients are added to the depleted earth. I hope the memories of your friend keep you warm on even the coldest of nights.

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