• Bridge Ladies

    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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If You Wanted the Sky I WOuld Write Across the Sky

I didn’t get a chance to write last night because I was drilling my kid on the American Revolution until I fell into a coma. I have to say I think school really sucks. I was reminded of how I used to feel dead walking down the locker-lined halls of my high school. My history teacher’s hair was chlorine-bleached from coaching the swim team. He was the type to perch on a desk in an effort to appear casual and caring (these were the Welcome Back Kotter Days). I often day dreamed about the girl who day dreamed in her seat by the window, her face pale with a sheen of oil, her boots like an elf’s. I also remember feeling agitated by the boys in the class and their flushed faces, some with scruff, their bigness and loudness. We had to made a chart of our lives, a history, and everyone brought in large pieces of cardboard sloppily decorated with baby pictures up to the present. One boy, Roland, had a circular graph of his brain. I still think about him for no good reason.

High School?

45 Responses

  1. Please, don’t remind me…

  2. My favourites were Lance and Kent and Martin. Lance’s parents had stacks of books and newspapers all through their dark wooden house. At the time I didn’t recognise their species. Kent was short and freckled and copied my maths, me being being a nerd with a feather cut. Martin whose sweaty temples I still see died in a bike crash at nineteen.

  3. One child often wants to stay home from school. I say yes for the avoidance of boredom reasons. It’s hard on Mondays, because it is my get back to work day. Today the kid is staying home from school to wallpaper the dollhouse. Am I fostering the design sense of an incipient artist, or am I abetting a flouter of authority?

  4. Oh my Jayyysus. The worst. I’d rather have my scalp waxed than go back to those days. So boring yet so tense and dramatic. I always marvel at people who say they loved high school. And reunions mystify me.

    • Yes. High School? Where I learned to be a ghost. A ghost that ate too much, yearned, blundered, developed social anxiety, lived with undiagnosed dyslexia, got told I was wasting my life.

      High School, no.

  5. Some great teachers, problems with authority and the old man. Street racing, drinking with the guys, adventures with girlfriends, looking up Priscilla Presley’s dress in studyhall, a fight now and then.Suspended several times, and allowed to quit my junior year because I was about to be expelled.The old man’s heart was broken, and I was an outsider, too young to fit in out there, but no longer among the friends and enemies of school. I woke up a little, went back and graduated the next year.

    Two years later I was in Vietnam, and much, much older.

  6. I may be one of the few here to say I honestly enjoyed high school. Although, in my hazy memory, I remember the emphasis being more on the high and less on the school.

    • I’m with you Sherry. There was the high, and there was the school. I still meet up with my best high school friends when I go home — about 15 of us have stayed in touch. They are some of the best people I know.

      It was middle school that I barely survived …

  7. I remember moving in with my foster parents, picking clothes out of their church bin to wear to a new HS, then some ROTC guy putting an apple pie in my locker. Decided from my Sally Field face I was his dream girl. Little did he know. And that is high school for you.

  8. Three high schools: 10th grade,Anchorage, Alaska; 11th grade, suburbs of Philadelphia, PA; and the one I claim proudly, 12th grade, Earl J. Wooster High in Reno, Nevada. I didn’t like high school but I was terrified of the world outside the classroom so it was a good place to hide out until I got up my nerve to traipse off to Paris.

  9. Loved it. Close friends, clean fun, sports. At home I was invisible (perpetually angry dad), but at school I knew who I was.

    It’s the rest of life that has been the problem.

  10. My parents decided to buy a larger house in “the better school district” only after I started high school. Nothing insures ostracism more effectively than relocating to the rival school, one week before school starts! The girl who was supposed to walk home with me that first day (the daughter of my father’s business associate) some how “forgot” that I didn’t know the way home – leaving me to wander the 2 mile gap between the school property and my new front door for hours. It was my first lesson in self-reliance. She, on the other hand, was attending rehab sessions by senior year.

  11. Junior high and high school might be fine if they weren’t attended by adolescents. What sucked, for me, wasn’t school but the difficulties of being a teenager. It took me a long time to grow up.

  12. Four years of combing spitwads out of my hair.

  13. Sometimes it was fantastic (the boy in Year 12) and sometimes not (the bullying in Year 9) but overall, it was OK. Our French teacher spat when she spoke.We all used to wait for her to do it then giggle when she did. She’d get terribly cross and demand to know why we were laughing. Detention. We went on strike once, too. Turned our backs on the poor teacher. I feel bad about that. He was quiet and nice, but weak. You can’t be weak and be a teacher. Detention.
    My best friend got bored in class and cut all her long hair off during the lesson. The rest of the class watched in wonder and admiration, paying no attention to the teacher. Detention. I spent a lot of time in detention now I come to think about it.

  14. I ran into a high school acquaintance on a hot, wet day when I was eight months pregnant. Against my better judgment and the glossed over separation of two decades, I decided to say hello.

    “Oh my god, Debbie! I wouldn’t have even recognized you. Have you seen Gigi? Now she takes care of herself.”

    So, there you go. I would have told her to go fuck herself, but she’ll probably buy a book just so she can say she knows me. The last laugh and all.

  15. Hated every breath of it. The only time I remember even smiling genuinely was when I walked across the stage to get my graduation certificate, because I knew it was over. Couldn’t stand the boring people or the lack of challenging work.

    Funnily enough though, I have an obsession with movies and books involving high school, especially the cliched uber-cliquey ones with OTT characters. Hmmmm. I wonder why that is?…

  16. I often wonder why I chose to be a high school English teacher. I think it certainly means that’s where I was stunted or damaged and by teaching I chose to face my fears over and over again, every day. LIke Groundhog day, hell, or therapy. When I stopped teaching, it felt like I had finally graduated. (Don’t mistake me– I loved teaching but still, I wonder why.)

  17. High school was an unmitigated nightmare. Best left behind in the ash-heap of forgotten memories.

    Now college. An entirely different experience. I still remember those days with nostalgia.

    • I had a similar transitional experience. High school was not “an unmitigated nightmare” for me, though when I returned to campus for a short visit ten years later it struck me in the gut how much I hated that place (and spent ten years writing about it to exorcise the demons).

      But college, now… I got to college and it was the “Ah-ha!” experience, as in “Ah-ha! So this is where they keep the real books and the real teachers.”

  18. Also, I need to stop reading your posts in the a.m. My productivity dropped an entire level today because I’m hearing Lulu on a loop in my brain.

  19. It was a sticky situation and I didn’t know what to do. Dreams were the most exciting part of my day, hot, thick and liquid, arousing me from my slumber. These days I have a better grip on things.

  20. Token Jew in an Episcopalian prep school. All girls. The end.

  21. I was teased mercilessly. My good grades were all that saved me from complete irrelevance and an early check-out. I would have been a prodigy, an unparalleled genius, but I could not get my mind off that other thing. Times change–but not much.

  22. Are the schools still calling that colonial merchants’ fracas a “revolution”? How quaint.

    School? High school? Sucks? Sucky? Suckish? Well. It does what it does: the last stop in the training to turn young humans into sufficiently docile members of the militaristic capitalist-consumerist so-called society. Seems to do that pretty well. Too bad it’s such a blatant and largely unquestioned denial of human nature. No wonder that, just as is likely the case with the overwhelming majority of people who were incarcerated in that soft prison, the overwhelming majority of useful learning I did in high school did not come from anything taught me in a classroom.

  23. Ten years after high school I became sort of gorgeous for a too brief period of time. I had beaux in HS, but wore glasses and was skinny. So when I became gorgeous, I had a long drawn out affair with a former classmate who had been in the in-crowd. I believe we spoke not a word in HS. He was cute, nothing special, but I would go off like an M-80. I am sure, for once, it was all in my head. And it was so easy to be through with him.

    I had first day of school being lost dreams til I was 35.

    • Great. An awesome opening line for a book or story. Leave off “of time”. Keep the M-80 line and the “through” line. Change the last line to “The first day of school really came for me at 35”. Of course, everyone is good at doctoring genius. lol

  24. To paraphrase Hope above, I was a not-rich girl in an Episcopalian prep school. All girls. The end. Jean Harris (who shot the diet doc) was headmistress there, but after my time. I did get a good education, and I pretended I was like Jane Eyre–poor but worthy.

  25. Went to 3 HS’s.
    HS 1. Mr Steetsill, math teacher, picked his nose and wiped it on his tie.
    HS 2. Kids rode horses to school.
    HS 3. So big I could be me within my small circle of friends.

    It’s been decades and I have seen only 1 person I graduated with.(1200 in grad. class.)The bitch married a nazi.

  26. I have selectively forgotten most of my high school days, thank goodness, but a few years ago, when I received an invitation to our 40th reunion (I didn’t go), I found out that my best friend and most of the “In Crowd” were dead. I felt shocked and saddened, of course, but also oddly triumphant.

  27. High school? Some good, some bad. I wish I knew then how little the bullshit mattered and how much that mattered was bullshit.

  28. I’m afraid I might have peaked–great friendships, great lover (older guy), lots of creative activity, pot still made me laugh. Transition to college was rough bc, turns out, my foundation was on sand. Feel like I’m still rebuilding (it’s all about the journey) but gonna get it back for good this time….But, yeah, high school was the bomb (unfortunately).

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