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    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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Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore

The reason for the lateness of this post: I was at a real live book party. Hosted by a big glossy magazine. Filled with people who used to be people, people who want to be people, and people who are someone (as in, isn’t that someone?). Waiters circulated with silver trays of risotto balls. It was the kind of party where you could reasonably expect to be dissed a few times. First, by someone who pretends not to recognize you. Then by someone who recognizes you but doesn’t say hello. By someone you used to work with. And finally by the waiter with the risotto balls.

Parties are less frequent nowadays because publishers claim they don’t help sell books. Many other good reasons to have a party, such as celebrating, marking an accomplishment, gathering friends, creating opportunities in which you can be snubbed. What I like to do when I go to a party is: have a panic attack, have a glass of white wine, monopolize someone for a half hour. Say hi to one or two other people, try a risotto ball and leave.

How do you do parties?

50 Responses

  1. Just like here: show up too early, leave too early, feel awkward and hopeful the whole dang time.

  2. Ha ha Liz, I like to go and wish I hadn’t. Drink too little for the froglets that keep commenting on how “young,” I look. Tap dance off beat to music in my head. Sneak by the table and pretend I’m not in love with more than half of the authors, agents, and publishers there. Connect with a few womp-womps. Go home early thinking about how much valet was—after I tip more than I can afford. Leave, shake off. Repeat.

    • That sounds like a great party, Lalanii. I want some froglets to tell me I look young, then I want to connect with some womp-womps. I think I’ve been going to the wrong parties.

  3. I do it like you , though maybe another risotto ball, and wonder how much that look (mine, the one into me) shows up in my eyes and repels those who appear to have no existential crises at such affairs.

  4. That’s me in the corner…

  5. Parties with cigarettes were fun. Parties without feel hectic.

  6. I do parties by never voting for anything other than Democrats. That way I don’t have to think about it.

  7. I stand in a corner and try to look charming. Meanwhile I think mean things.

  8. I don’t do parties these days and that’s fine with me. When I did I was always dressed wrong, ate too much, drank too much and said too much to the wrong people. I’m safer in my own company and enjoy my own witty banter and sweatpants.

  9. I party pretty much the way you do, except that the wife comes over after a few minutes of the monopolizing — which has NO untoward motive, believe me, except a need to look like I’m not friendless — and takes him away.

  10. I can swing both ways. Sometimes I’m Pee Wee Herman (in his heyday, of course); other times, I’m the fly on the wall, praying no one notices or, worse, swats me. I wish I knew what it depended on. It would make RSVPing a hellava lot easier.

  11. The last party I went to had a pinata. Anything I can beat with a stick, I like.

  12. Crash them, when opportunity appears.

  13. 1) What’s a risotto?
    2) Why would you want to eat his balls?

    I’m better with parties than I used to be, largely because I’m fairly comfortable with silence. My wife is a socializer and I just kind of hang back and observe. Sometimes I see someone I like talking with, but our conversations are usually short and I go back to just checking things out, wishing I was somewhere else. Smoking pot makes me more introverted than usual, and the best parties are those with a band (good band) or decent music playing. Then I can just get lost and hope no one bothers me. Kids’ parties, on the other hand, are a whole different story. I smile a lot and often get picked by the host/hostess to take photos.

  14. The last party I attended was my own book party in April. We all had a great time. The next party I’m attending is my wedding in two days. I think we’ll have a good time there, too.

    As long as you’re not surrounded by insecure strangers, you’re good!

  15. Midlife crisis sent me into hiding among the social life of fire pits and bbqs, but damn I used to do parties. I met everyone, didn’t dis anyone and believe it or not, was interested in what they had to say. My specialty was breaking the total dickhead who, by the middle of the party was laughing and looking for a seat at the dinner table beside me. I used to believe in the inherent goodness of people. I doubt it’s like riding a bicycle.

  16. I’m terrible at parties, primarily because I’m a bit (okay, more than just a bit) on the shy side and on the other side I’m a boring bore. Hell, I even bore myself. So, maybe I’d find you and hang out and we could both find our own little corner, pretend we’re snubbing the snubbers and get quietly polluted with the free wine. Only problem is who would be the designated driver?

  17. Betsy, about that panic attack: You might want to consider transcendental meditation. Or just have another glass of wine.

  18. First to arrive, because I’m anxious and have been watching the clock all day, worried about what to wear because, Shit, What Will Fit!!!, and I’ve already eaten because otherwise I’ll have 3 glasses of wine right off and get stupid and forget to eat the Risotto Balls, which I have to decline because I don’t want the waiter to keep track of how many I eat.

    First to leave, because now it’s waaaaay too loud and laugh-y in there and I’ve broken into my menopausal flop-sweat because Wine Makes It Worse! and my pits and crotch are wet and I’m sure everyone can see. I always, always sneak out without saying goodbye.

    Man I’m fun.

  19. I plead guilty to enjoying parties: who needs cable TV when there is all this live entertainment? Last night, I went to two parties. The first was an opening night fete for a gallery featuring a (mostly) Warhol exhibit – attended by alot of pseudo-art types and college students who probably got credit for attending. Bumped into a few friends and a person I hadn’t seen in months. The food was great, the jazz band was quite talented and the bartender was a true comic. From there, I went to a business meeting/dinner party where one group spent a good part of the evening dourly commenting on the economy. The rest of us shared news, laughed and shamelessly consumed generous portions of strawberry-and-cream cake.

  20. I still love parties, heels and smiling at men across rooms. Especially champagne too.
    I realise it is almost time to tame myself.

  21. Ah, so that’s where you were! You usually post after I’ve gone to bed, but last night I had to work late, so I came looking for it. Stopped to check the time. Wondered about the day of the week. Glad to see you this morning!

    I haven’t been to a party since The Beatles first came to America. I remember that because everyone was talking about them, and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Everyone except for me, that is. Somehow, I’d missed the news. I don’t remember whose party it was, any of the guests, or anything that happened, save my sitting outside on the lawn, by myself, plucking at blades of grass and thinking melancholy thoughts. Geeze.

    No, you’re right. There have been other parties. Very few of the mixing-with-friends variety, quite a few family-centered occasions. The later freak me out because of the people I should remember from previous get-togethers, but don’t.

    I can have a great visit with the other lady who is picking out strawberries at the grocery store, or who is selling me her aquarium, or who has stopped by our yard sale, but social gatherings are just too much like junior high, when I couldn’t find a place to fit in.

  22. the door separating the reading room from the reception room, where the wine is located, is a mystic portal of awkward.

    Bob is standing alone in the corner, staring at me, i think. he’s wearing sunglasses and hasn’t trimmed his beard. Loralie is talking, twisting her wineglass like she’s unlocking the air. when she laughs, she throws her hands up involuntarily and red wine flies. i catch her eye and she shrugs and mouthes, “who fucking cares?”

    i make a move into the crowd and i’m intercepted. Nora. she’s got a book deal with local press. she’s crying.

    “he won’t answer my emails,” she says and blows her nose. she’s referring to the publisher.

    “when did you last email him?” i ask. i fight the urge to look away.

    “right before i walked over to the party,” she says. “i wanted to know if he’d be here. the bastard. he didn’t respond. i need him to calm me down. you KNOW how i don’t like parties.” her glasses are fogging up and one of the sparkly little jewels on the right temple has gone missing.

    “he’ll probably show,” i say. knowing full well he’s avoiding her. the same way i wish i could. i check the bar. lined up. a waiter sails past with a fully loaded tray of bite sized treats. no risotto balls for me.

  23. I much prefer the role of guest to that of host. I blame my wandering attention span and the early grooming I received from parents: curtsy, smile, ask a question, giggle and move on. If I’m throwing a party, I often feel that my anxiety far exceeds my graciousness, and popping a Xanax beforehand only makes me seem retarded.

    If I were at that party, Betsy, I would have my party face on, a glass of wine in my hand at all times, and a fear that if I ate a risotto ball, I’d get parsley stuck in my teeth, or drop half of it on the floor. Therefore, I would decline the fancy food.

    I would likely be the last to go, because my very worst moment at any party is cutting into a conversation to say goodbye to the host. It’s either stay until the bitter end or opt for the French leave.

  24. My foster parents took me to church three times a week. Reactionary, emotionally whip lashed and brooding girl that I was at 16 I made it work by volunteering to help out in the “special” Sunday school class for “special” kids, all handicapped, started by a mother with a Downs Syndrome child.

    Every Sunday we sat together during church services, the “special” kids, their teacher and I in a roped off section, near the back door, near the exit. I’ll never forget one little guy, about nine, with the mind of a toddler. He called the bible a library book and no matter what the congregation stood to sing, belted out in his “special” sweet voice—Michael row the boat ashore hallelujah, Michael row the boat a shore hal-a-lou-lou-lou-yah.

    I loved that kid, am like that kid in a crowd, no matter its composition or purpose. Perhaps always will be.

  25. Cannot lie, I am a lady who loves a party. I dream of my own book party the way some girls dream of their weddings.

  26. >>How do you do parties?

    Jump up on the bar in my Lycra® miniskirt with a martini and shake it (not the martini).

    That was twenty years ago.

    Now, the only parties I go to are kirtans, where we all sit on the floor, play harmonium, and chant the same words to different tunes for anywhere from two to twenty-four hours. It’s more fun than you might think, even without the martinis.

  27. Create an anxiety that lets you off the hook for anyone you fuck that night, anyone. Anything was better than listening to that guy. My god! Wouldn’t you!? I’m a peace keeper. Feel no guilt fawns, it had nothing to do with you. I hope, at least, you had a little fun.

    • PS’S is it just me or am I a total asshole? I am soo judgmental about people who paint their nails and have tattoos. Don’t you for the mother fucking love of life have anything better to do than mark your body up with idiotic graffiti? If you have enough time to do all of that idiocy to yourself, you have too much time on your hands. Call me old fashioned, but I’m not good at parties. Factory jobs? Maybe? Have I gone too far?

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