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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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I’m All Shattered Does It Matter

I went to the Pumpkin Bowl at my daughter’s school today. The kids were decked out in their costumes and totally pumped. WHenever I go to any school event, I always feel weirdly fragile and often on the verge of tears. It’s hard to locate the feeling exactly. I think it’s from some combination of seeing so much joy and of watching people participate so fully that I can’t take it in, as if all that life were a tidal wave threatening my shore. I think it’s also because I couldn’t partake when I was young, and in part because I still can’t. Then they played this game.

It’s a game where students smashed eggs on their foreheads. Some of the eggs were hard boiled and some uncooked. If you got an uncooked egg, you were out. But it wasn’t the elimination nature of the game that kept my attention. Instead it was the complete belief on the part of the students that they would get a hard boiled egg, and smashed the eggs into their foreheads with abandon. When the egg turned out to uncooked, the yellow gunk dripping down their faces, they seemed completely surprised. Over and over I witnessed this utter abandon of kids breaking eggs on their heads, and being totally shocked when they exploded on their faces.

Does this remind anyone else of the writing process?

42 Responses

  1. It’s quite an apt metaphor to the writing process.

  2. The optimism of youth. I’m always so interested in the moment, that exact moment in time, when it disappears. Perhaps it’s the opposite with writing. Authors seem to often expect to be perpetually covered in egg goo that when the hard boiled one finally comes their way they struggle to trust in their good fortune and do everything they can to restore their fatalistic world view.

    If you like I can smack you on the head with an egg. I know already which one you’ll get.

  3. I think verklempt is the word that best describes what I feel most of the time. I’m proud of other people’s kids. And I cry because I’m watching them grow up so freakin’ fast.

    So many days of my life I feel like that scene in American Beauty, where the pothead/filmmaker is watching the bag fly around in the wind. There’s just an awesomeness (and I mean that word) to life sometimes.

    Other times, it’s tragic. Or it’s mundane. I always seem to be teetering on the bring of tears regardless.

    I think the egg smashing game sounds fun. I’d do it, and I’d laugh, and then I’d cry. And I guess that’s what I do in my writing process and my life. I laugh, and then I cry.

  4. Yeah . . . Except I’d be hoping for an uncooked egg so I can get a decent story out of it. With a hard-boiled egg, all I’d get is a crunch and maybe a shell-cut.

  5. It reminds me of what happens every time I leave my house. With writing, I’m certain it’s going to be a face of egg goo, and astounded when it’s solid.

  6. As my daddy used to say, “It isn’t exactly criminal to be wrong–but quitting is.” (Webb)

  7. the first draft is composed of raw egg that dripped from brain.

    i hope the final draft is a well seasoned frittata composed of fresh grilled veggies, a bit of tasty cheese and maybe some sliced yukon potatoes. substantial and savoury.

    christ, i’m hungry.

  8. It doesn’t remind me of the writing process so much as it does of the query and submission process.

  9. Submishmash’s: Received, In-Progress, Declined.

  10. Sounds less like writing and more like trying to make that writing public. Must be the “egg on the face” image.

    I miss school. The not-quite-right lighting, all those lined-up desks, hand-cut holiday decorations everywhere, the creak and slam of lockers, how the whole place smells like lunch all day long. Thanks for that memory.

  11. For me, it feels more like I’m being pelted with eggs but you’re right. There does seem to be an unrealistic level of trust involved.

  12. I was never one of those children surprised by raw egg. I was always shocked when the egg was boiled. So completely surprised when luck and success cast their merry line my way.

    But I believe in the gooey yolk. Enjoy it, even. I would think having bits of rubbery white and gritty smears of boiled yolk would be far more costly than the slippery emulsifying (and satisfying) raw egg. Plus, raw egg is great for the hair; it was one of the Empress Elisabeth’s main beauty secrets.

  13. I agree with the “sounds more like the submission process” comments above, the Charlie Brown still expecting to kick the football this time although Lucy’s pulled it away on each of the thousand previous attempts optimism required to keep putting the work out there.

  14. It’s about how bravely they put themselves out there, risking the raw egg and the embarrassment for the chance to maybe make someone smile, or laugh, or just notice.

    I think I would be hoping for the raw egg.

  15. I think I would be sneaking the eggs home, cracking them over a bowl, and then cooking them and/or eating them myself, depending on their state of doneness. Wasting food freaks me out.

  16. I’m convinced the whole creative process starts out like a raw egg; it’s learning when the idea is ready that avoids the drippy mess.

    Meanwhile, why are these children wasting food? There are “papier mache” eggs that could have been filled with/without glitter for a more sparkly result.

  17. I’m in the class for the party tomorrow, and feel the same way. How odd to not fit in when you were their age, and come back as a confident reincarnation of yourself…

    This time I’m doing it right. I’m going to wear the largest, furriest, Cat in the Hat costume, campy gone wrong that I’ve made myself and my son will love it. And that will make all the rest okay. Instead of being the misfit kid, I get to be the mom who didn’t give a damn. Excellent.

    But I’m sure as hell not having any kids break eggs against their face.

    • Embracing the role of Goofy Parent is the best reward for parenthood! Now that my son will be 21 in about 2 months, I must be content with warm memories of the costumes, the classroom activities and those sweet conversations that still give me a smile.

      Hope you post a photo of your costume!

      • Karen,
        My costume serves a dual purpose. Now, because my son is six and still loves me. Later when he hates me, I have an outfit to pick him up at high school on a random Monday for leverage to get my way. I’m not above embarrassment as a form of parenting…

  18. That’s not how I usually work but the blind faith and gooey delight are still there.

  19. Hallowe’en in the UK:

    Sign in a shop:

    “We will not sell eggs or flour to anyone under the age of 18.”

    Letter to the editor in yesterday’s paper lamenting the Americanization of Hallowe’en and wondering about the need for all those pumpkins

    “what is wrong with making lanterns from a turnip as we used to do”

    I surrender.

  20. That’s not a game, that’s a poem! Heavens.

    But yeah, I relate to that emotional shakiness at school events. I think there’s something about the earnestness of youth that touches my tenderest spot.

  21. sitting in my daughter’s dorm room on saturday, my first to go to college, as she and her roommate laughed about coming in at three am the night before and rummaging through a guy on their hall’s room for food, a guy they didn’t know, patting his head when he roused and said who’s there, saying shh, it’s okay, go back to sleep, and then racing back to their room to eat an entire package of sugar cookies they’d stolen, just sitting up on her bed watching them trade inside jokes gave me that wobbly near-tears feeling, joy tinged with sadness or sadness tinged with joy, some hybrid emotion that lingered and left me happy/sad all day Sunday…

    and it is like writing in the excitement you feel over the possibility an untold story holds, believing words will carry their weight and the story will hold its form when you move it to the page/crack the egg

  22. Ah, school functions. The chaos of watching everyone mill about, merging into groups. Me standing right in the middle clicking my keys in my pocket like an autistic child rocking back and forth. The clock behind the safety cage ticking out the minutes, but being deaf to the conversation three feet away. Later, someone telling me how sophisticated and put together I always am.

    However, I do love the innocence and optimism of youth.

  23. So…this is what I’ve been busting my ass for, working low paying shit jobs so I can have the time to raise my kid and write during stolen moments (naptime, art time, cartoon time/rainy days, sick time) when the very real possibility is I’m going to wind up with nothing more than egg on my face? Damn.

  24. Also…to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough, tough, tough.

  25. Raw. Boiled. Doesn’t matter. In order to discover what’s inside, one must break the shell. (El duh-o.)

  26. The writing process. Painting an oil portrait. Opening a restaurant. Sitting under an overpass on top of a fault line. Trying to get dough to rise. Buying jeans with 10 percent spandex in them.

    If we didn’t maintain some small portion of that childlike optimism and denial as adults, we wouldn’t do the things we do, let alone get out of bed in the morning. Lovely metaphor, Betsy.

  27. Sounds more like my romantic relationships. Thanks for helping me find the appropriate metaphor to describe it.

  28. It’s not the egg goo itself that is at the heart of this metaphor, it’s the utter despicable randomness of who gets the raw egg that sends them out of the game, and who gets the un-earned hard boiled egg and gets to stay for the next round

    Totally random, totally unfair, deeply humiliating. Just like life.

  29. I don’t particularly understand what is called the writing process, I’ve tried, I really have, and I get the part about write though you think it’s crap, or write though you think you’re a piece of shit, thanks to whatever life has thrown in your face, but I call that Life and, well, fuck, I still don’t get the writing process. I tried! But! The egg on the head game! My little brother used to take an egg from the fridge and while my sister and my other brother were watching Emergency or Adam 12 tap, tap, tapped it on our heads, sort of like musical chairs, but his version of it, and whoever got the raw egg on his head was the good laugh and star of the night. His little bit of love, at his age. That was in the 1970’s so I wonder if that game has been around for a while. Other than love, I don’t get the learning experience. Maybe love was all there was. How un-scientific. Of course, I’m a verbal sado-masocist, in all it’s pain and delight, so what came first, the kid or the egg? Bring it! I like it!

  30. I call this optimism the “divine cluelessness.” The belief that you can do any given thing, what to speak of anybody giving a damn once you’ve done it, when all the forces of man nature are in seeming conspiracy against you, is a real gift from God and I pray daily to get it back. The open secret is, you can only get it by forging ahead, through cynicism and doubt. You keep moving through the incredible drought, until finally a bit of luck sprinkles upon you on clear hot day, and you think, is that rain? Yes, there’s more where that came from.

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