• 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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H To The Izz-O, V To The Izz-A

I went to a publishing party tonight hosted by Macmillan. I rarely attend these sort of functions any more because I live in Alaska. But I felt it  I should fly the company colors, see and be seen, prove for once and for all that I am not pressing my hand into a disc of clay and spray painting it gold, or making a macaroni picture of a toucan or setting sun.  What did I wear? How was my hair? How many business cards exchanged? Glasses of Chardonnay? I was hoping to drop in the fact that I represent an NBA finalist into a few conversations, but the conversational segue proved elusive. I did my best not to monopolize one person for fear of never finding another person to talk to.  A lot of people dye their hair. I still I wish I were a man and could wear  a suit and tie. I had fun. Nobody died.

How do you make out at parties?

44 Responses

  1. all tongue, no last names

  2. With most of my clothes on. Seriously, are you gonna change this question before morning again? You left yourself wide open here.

  3. A subscription to Betsy Lerner’s blog is seeming more and more like an open encouragement to pursue self-publishing.


    “A lot of people dye their hair. I still I wish I were a man and could wear suit and tie. I had fun. Nobody died.”

    Yeah, well, nobody browsing the new fiction kiosks at Barnes & Noble died either, but they sure wished they had better reading material to take home.

    The American literary scene needs an Occupy Wall Street equivalent, pronto.

    • You subscribe to this? Did you know you can get it for free?

      Oh, Occupy Wall Street. I’ve heard of them. A bunch of clueless clit-heads who want to mope around and feel special. Emo on the front lines. But what else are the wankers to do? Spray a little mace on ’em and they’re crying for their mommies. Far be it from them to muster up enough balls to burn the fucking place to the ground. Can’t have anybody getting hurt in our little “protest,” now can we?

      Not to be incitin’ anyone or anything. Jess sayin’. A bloodless revolution is a bloodless revolution.

    • Instead of taking an extra xanax, I am going to go all “Jeff” here. Why would you relate an unsuccessful, poorly wrought business plan to epub? Barnes and Noble is doing just fine, thanks, and little tiny epub me is in their freaking catalog. And I think their inventory rocks. So take that. It is EXACTLY the same as THOSE people who discuss war as an economic or political issue and completely leave anthropology out of the equation. And they always do. All of them. G’nite, folks.

      P.S.: You probably like David Foster Wallace.

    • Wow, Eric, your website certainly brims with…..confidence.

    • The man makes a rather innocuous comment, an opinion that, okay you disagree with, and the knives come out. His first sentence, I suspect, was literary license trying to make a point. A bloodless wallstreet protest is no protest at all? Sounds like revolution to me. Guess the Gaddaffi footage made an impression on how it should be done, eh? Blood in the streets. Always a good time to invest, but literally it would be rather messy. And going all Jeff is apropos. C’mon, chill. And that snarky remark on his website. Grow up.

      • Occupy Wall Street a revolution? No. Sorry. A bunch of semi-coherent pampered brats of prosperity holding signs and camping in parks and twittering each other do not a revolution make. Want to see one of those? Want to see what revolution entails and what it costs? Look to France in 1789. Russia in 1917. China through most of the twentieth century. Paris in 1968. Iran in 1979. Arab Spring this very year.

        And look to Prague and Mexico City in 1968 for how revolution is crushed. Budapest in 1956 for that, too. And Iran in 2009 and 2010.

        And for how revolution can go the other way, look to Germany and what happened there between 1929 and 1933.

        And for how even putatively nonviolent revolution demands its sacrifices in flesh and blood, look to America’s Civil Rights movement, to Selma, to the Freedom Riders, James Meredith and the Reverend Dr. King and unnumbered others.

        Look to all these and discern the differences between self-indulgent ineffectual protest and revolution. See what revolution costs, how it runs when once unleashed and how it is as uncontrollable as a thunderstorm.

      • I would never call the Occupy Wallstreet demonstrations any kind of revolution, just to be clear. Actually, I was simply referencing your revolutionary comment. Nothing more. But why such vitriol?

  4. Next time wear the suit and tie anyway. Screw ’em.

  5. Betsy, you are my hero. Heroine? Heroin?

  6. I sometimes narrate social occasions in my head, especially if they’re kind of boring. I make up stories about my fellow party goers. I’m an omnivert – sometimes introverted, sometimes extroverted. I usually do okay at parties where I don’t know anyone because I am a good listener. That sometimes means that I get trapped in the corner by someone with limited social skills, but it’s always interesting to hear what’s important to people, what things they tell people they don’t know. It’s stunning what folks will share with a complete stranger.

  7. Belle of the fucking ball. Seriously. I love parties. I live in Portland though, so parties are two people on a street corner with a doobie.

  8. Depends on the day. And the company. Sometimes I wish I were a piece of cheese that rolled off the buffet and under the table, not to be found again till the next morning– and hopefully not by the family dog. Other times, I’ve developed a superhuman tolerance to alcohol; I’m the most interesting, wittiest person I’ve ever met; so is everyone else in the room and the night can’t go on long enough. Still other times, it’s like one of those slow motion, gelatinous dreams in which you’re neither miserable nor ecstatic but you can’t seem to say anything right, or at least on time, and still it won’t end and you can’t find the door and you can’t wake up, so you just push on until finally, rather inexplicably, you’re in Walmart at 3am and you’re actually glad to be there.

    • This is me minus the tolerance for alcohol and the most interesting, wittiest person part. I try very hard to avoid them. If I absolutely can’t get out of it, I spend a lot of time in the bathroom or under the buffet table with the cheese.

  9. These days I’m a mute and feckless wallflower who smiles and nods a lot. As soon as my French improves I’ll be back to my usual obnoxious self.

  10. With abandon and strangers.

  11. I dye my hair. I have since I was 18 and then I went prematurely gray, so I dye it more often now. I like parties too, it’s getting to them that’s the problem. Most the time my gray roots need a touch-up so I just stay home.

  12. I’m like a little moth, bouncing against a light bulb, only it’s not the light bulb, it’s the booze cabinet. (may or may not be true)

  13. Can’t hear a thing.

  14. Like a cat with a drinking problem: The drink is always close at hand, and I’ll talk to you, but you have to come to me.

  15. As of late, fairly well. But then these are birthday parties for the under six set. And let me tell you, these aren’t my momma’s birthday parties. I’ve been to weddings that didn’t have spreads like this.

    And I still remember all the Super Friends by name so that helps when the conversation lags between trips down the big blow up slide.

  16. I used to be okay at parties, but lately I’ve noticed my filter’s not as strong. One glass of wine and I’ll find myself next to a toothpick-thin blond with a puffy chest and puffy lips, and hear myself saying, “So what the hell’s up with all the fake boobs and plastic surgery in this room?”

    Or maybe I’m just out of practice.

  17. I was told by a German engineer at my first West African cocktail to circulate, mingle then circulate. No more zan fife minuten. He’d caught me talking to that interesting Ugandan lady for almost an hour, said I was threatening my husband’s career.

  18. Y’all really need to see the party glass as (at least) half full. Maybe it’s my reformed wall-flower perspective, but I’ll attend any event that invites me. The people watching, the overheard snippets of delicate and indelicate conversations, the actions of the wait-staff are the best entertainment and a treasure trove of inspirations for future WIPs. I was recently invited to a party that, I swear, was a front for some illegal operation. Very thrilling, but I still left early in case the Feds broke down the gate.

  19. At parties?

    I don’t drink—I listen. It’s far more entertaining and, occasionally, lucrative.

  20. I was going to apologize for going nuts on here last night because I felt a little embarrassed later. But now I see I don’t have to. I love you guys.

  21. but the conversational segue proved elusive…. More like people didn’t want to let it transition into that subject because damn woman! You’re repping an NBA finalist! Right on the heels of a Patti Smith phenom. Sadly, you can never be a profit in your own homeland. Unless you get really pushy about it.

  22. Back in the day, I used to live for parties. I loved the moments leading up, the changing of outfits to fit my agenda, making bets with myself whether my current crush would attend, constantly testing the boundaries of my own sobriety. Total magic. Nowadays, I get anxious the second after receiving an invitation. I don’t want to dress up and I certainly don’t want to mingle. If I could guarantee fly-on-the-wall status, it would be different but I rarely get pegged as such. I wish someone would come out with BYSTANDERS FOR DUMMIES. It would make soirees so much more appealing.

  23. “How do you make out at parties?”

    I no longer make out at parties. I always show up with vitriol on my breath, and no one wants to kiss that. Understandably.

  24. Not nearly as calmly as you, apparently. If you have ever read The Idiot, and I’m embarrassed to write that, knowing some might have not, that’s me, without the author intention. If you have heard that story of two guys escaping from a concentration camp during the Jewish problems, who made their way to England and were met with accusations of mental illness, you might have seen me at a party. It’s not pleasant, normally. But, as you say, no one dies. In fact, everyone usually has a good laugh. And then they throw-up on themselves and start plotting to get out of their embarrassment. People are people, after all.

  25. “I did my best not to monopolize one person for fear of never finding another person to talk to”

    That’s me. Unfortunately at most parties I monopolize the same nice person. Parties are sort of torture, but also a bit fun…sometimes…

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