• 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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I’ll Follow You Until You Love Me


I can’t believe I’ve been blogging this long and have never shared this particular annoyance. But driving today, I heard an author on NPR commit the sin like seven times. I never caught his name, but he peppered his interview with, “as I say in my book,” “as I write in my book,” “well, according to my new book.” You get the idea. Even worse than hearing this on the radio is being trapped by this sort of blowhard at a cocktail party or to your left at a dinner party. I know authors are told to refer to their books when being interviewed to impress upon the audience that they are selling a book. Still, it feels so forced to me:

Q: What kind of vegetables do they grow in Madagascar?

A: As I say in my book, the most popular vegetable in Madagascar is the tuber.

Q: Do writers like to take it up the arse?

A: Well, according to the studies I cite in my book, writers prefer whatever.

My father  once asked me how I got to be so judgmental when I criticized a friend for always putting a smiley face at the end of her name. I mean, aren’t some things just unforgivable?

65 Responses

  1. Yes, some things are, and this is one of them. Stupid authors. My PR people tell me NOT to do things like that because . . . it’s ANNOYING AS HELL.

  2. I think it takes too much energy to get mad. Can’t seem to muster up much indignity these days.

    I hate to think what that means.

    But, oh well.

    Peace?

    • Maybe you meant “indignation”? Indignity should be pretty easy to find.

      • Dear John,

        Um…. are you an asshole or something?

        Sorry that my education at Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, College du Leman (that would SWITZERLAND) and Loreto Convent (that would be KENYA)…didn’t educate me in using the proper word.

        Peace?

        Yours truly, Jody

  3. I’m right there with you Betsy but what really ticks me flippin’ off is, “as it says in the Bible, chapter huh, verse whatever,” as if they cannot think for themselves. If you believe an eye for a fucking eye, and turn the other God-damned cheek, (a conundrum for sure), then say it because you believe it not because a bunch of long dead guys in sheets and sandals with hands full of quill pens and pieces of papyrus said it was the word of God. God does just fine yelling at us on his own; he whispers nice too.

    I hear thunder.
    I am doomed.
    I am not criticizing the word of God, it’s the quoters.
    Thanks Betsy now I’m going to hell.

    • So, Wry, been to church lately?

      Sorry. That was a slow pitch, and I couldn’t resist.

      • Hahahaha…yeah my daughter’s wedding. No thunder but many tears. God and I have a great relationship. he’s been pretty good to me and I thank him for that…a lot. I just wanted to stand up for the guy.

        Hey Frank… I spent Saturday afternoon and evening on the water. A slow rumbler, a Grand Banks, 8 knots max. It was one for the memory books. I had forgotten how eloquent being on the water is. The river spoke to me, she was sweet and really quite beautiful. How lucky you are to do that so often. That night on the water, that was MY church.

    • Even worse is the guy, who attributes things to the Bible that aren’t there.

  4. I was consigned to hell long ago. I don’t mind so much.

  5. In a land where everything is for sale, and where people can no longer judge the value of anything that does not have a price tag affixed, is it any wonder that dignity is so carelessly trodden underfoot? A whore is as a whore does, and the nation of whores lies on its back in the muddy gutter, writhing with legs spread wide.

  6. I wish silently judging people burned more calories. I’d be a reed, a willow, I’d be Audrey Hepburn.

  7. That poor darling. Confusing the Dance of the Seven Veils with an interview is an awful way to waste an NPR moment. Almost as bad as those movie trailers that can condense an entire film in 30 seconds and leave you satisfied to see nothing more.

  8. Overheard at BEA: “I lost eight pounds last month. It was easy, because I’m going to the big Doubleday party, and the CEO adores me.”

  9. The smileys drive me insane. As does a teen-flavoured text from a forty-plus. Maybe you are not judging but discerning.

  10. I heard that same interview. I think there’s something about Leonard Lopate’s tone that forces one to be defensive. Even when he’s agreeing with what’s being said, it sounds like he’s criticizing.

    It occurred to me the other day that one of my friends doesn’t like one of my kids. Suffice it to say, she’s no longer my friend. Talk about a no-brainer.

    • It’s not the fact that she doesn’t like him that’s bothering me. After all, not everyone’s kids are perfect in others’ eyes. What is unforgivable is that she doesn’t have the decency to hide it. To me, that’s just bad form.

      • Guh. Yeah, that would do it for me, too.

      • Mac, I’m with you on all of that. I really think pretending often makes life more fun, or at least tolerable.

      • My mother has a weird dislike for my youngest. He’s all boy, quiet and less demonstrative than the older kids. Since he was tiny, she’s taken this personally and has never been afraid to show it.

        And I do find it unforgivable. I love my mom, but I’ve lost a lot of respect for her because of the way she treats my son. Hide it, for fuck’s sake.

      • I’m childless, so I have less endurance for being around difficult children than my friends who are mothers. The patience! “Sainted mother” is practically redundant, in my opinion. I’ve been in social situations where a wee one is totally out of control. Everyone knows the kid is being a brat, but pretending he’s not is kind of awkward. So, I’ll tell the mom that all the um, challenging, children of my acquaintance are generally extremely intelligent and that the fuss they raise is frustration at not being able to *do,* physically and socially, what their superior minds are so clearly desiring, and that they grow up to do everybody proud. No moms has ever responded with anything other than a look of relief and a confirmation that their kid really is smart. It’s hard to hide my feelings (which are really more annoyance than dislike) but I can be nice about it. As it says in the Bible, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

        MDSB, Averil: would you be offended if a friend said the above about your kid, or if they just openly expressed annoyance about his/her behavior, not the kid himself?

      • I don’t offend easily. If the dislike stemmed from bad behavior, I’d feel a lot more inclined to understand. But my kids are very quiet and easygoing. My mom just expects all the grandchildren to be physically demonstrative, and my son is more likely to tolerate a hug than initiate one. He’s reserved, he’s not going to be the kid who races up with arms open wide and presents his cheeks for the kissing. I’ve tried to tell her not to take it personally, but she always comments and makes faces at him and I find that hurtful and disconcerting, especially now that he’s older and is picking up on the vibe.

        Sorry, this is getting a bit Dear-Abbyish. . . .

      • I think children need a mixture of clearly defined boundaries and the freedom to test them. If all they are doing is obeying out of fear, there will be a predictable backlash at some point. My son is ALL BOY with a heart of gold and my friend’s children see this and gravitate towards him. He is by no means out of control. I think his influence is frustrating to her.

        SS: I have loads of friends with different parenting styles. We all have respect for one another. If you don’t want your children adopting certain behaviors you teach them directly. Don’t try to change my kid or make him feel badly about himself. And whatever you do, you don’t preach about it right in front of the kid’s mother. That’s just uncivilized.

        Averil: A grandmother not kvelling over every single part of her grandchild is simply wrong. Your anger is completely justified.

      • “As it says in the Bible, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
        –Oops. And, now I can’t even use a smiley.

      • Ha, Elizabeth! 🙂

        (see, that didn’t even hurt)

  11. We already do, Betsy.

  12. I wish I could be the sort of person who could let those smiley faces go. I mean, can’t I just let people broadcast their cloying pretense of happy out over the earth and shut the hell up?

    Nah. Hearts over the lowercase i. “Fewer” when you mean “less.” Superfluous apostrophes hanging over the otherwise innocent bystander s. Whiny, high-pitched helplessness in the voices of my female students.

    Good thing I’m a teacher. It’s my job to be a nitpicky, judgmental prig. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.

    • They pay you teachers the big bucks? Cor blimey, I shoulda done. Alls I’m gettin’ assistin’ is the little doe. She’s a cutie, though, and does–often does–sometimes does–what I tell ‘er. To do.

  13. Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m a habitual emoticon-er in comments and personal correspondence.

    But I don’t use anymore without a negative, which should count for something.

  14. There’s a lot of unforgivable marketing advice forced upon writers these days. These are desperate times, esp. for publishers, et al, and they act accordingly. You are told you need an elevator pitch, a platform, a Brand. Pretty debilitating stuff for a novelist.

    Hence, my cave. My bubble. I write, submit, write, submit… Query, if needed. Read fun books. And take care of that goddamn muse no matter what.

    • Taking care of that GOD-damned muse is getting difficult. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. I just updated my blog…for what…hardly anyone reads it. It’s like a diary a friend told me, so personal she felt as if she were intruding.
      This weekend I was really frustrated and when I walked into my local Cost Cutters the receptionist recognized me from my picture in the local paper. (I write a column.) When I left, my head did not fit through the door. The shot this writer needed and yet…

      • I read your blog, and find much there. That muse of yours may be difficult to take care of, but she talks to mine, and I listen.

      • Yes. Of course. It’s really hard. That’s why some people quit writing. Still… if your writing soul is shot dead by someone who solely wants to make money off your stuff, what the point of that? What a sad waste that would be.

      • Do you visit and comment on other blogs, Wry? That’s the trick to getting visitors. Eats up your day, but it’s fun. You can leave a comment like, “As I wrote in my latest blog post,” and then say whatever.

  15. Yes. Cutting an SBD in polite company and blaming it on the dog.

  16. “As I say in my book” probably doesn’t need to be said at all. If you’re on the air because you’ve got a book coming out and the host doesn’t say so once or twice, something’s very weird. I seldom catch radio interviews these days, but I’ve never seen a TV interview with an author in which the book wasn’t held up by the host before and/or after the talk. And even someone who lands on your interview in the middle should be able to figure out why you’re being interviewed.

  17. The one thing that really pisses me off is when people (especially writers, who should know better) use the word bemused for amused. Use the dictionary, folks or give it up for someone who does.

  18. Becoming inured to what should be unforgiveable.

  19. Or bands at festivals who mention more than twice that their new cd is available at the concession stand, as if we didn’t know. But, as I say in my book, these are tough times for creators of most anything that can be digitized. I’m usually willing to cut them some slack for trying too hard.

  20. “I” agree with Tetman.

    But kudos, neverthless, to “my” wonderful pimps.

  21. Yes many things are unforgivable – the ones that stick out for me are: Unforgivable #1 – my mom (similar to some stories mentioned above) has always had this strange dislike for my son. Unforgivable #2 – b/c of that – I had to go to Social Services once about her treatment of him (someone reported her for choking him in her backyard – while he was in her care – if you can believe it.) Unforgivable #3 – I lied to SS so she wouldn’t be brought up on child abuse charges. Now THAT was a conundrum.

    Last but not least…unforgivable #4 – editors rejecting my book. Well, maybe that’s not unforgivable…maybe they are just being….discerning.

  22. “I heard an author on NPR commit the sin like seven times.” I was sure you were going to say “Between you and I…”

    That brings out the inner-curmudgeon in me, though I am beginning to sense it is being taught as correct in graduate schools the world over.

    Still loving your blog though I tend to lurk more these days. Keep it up, everyone else. And enjoy your summer (smiley face).

  23. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, to all who stopped by my blog today. You know Betsy you’ve got a pretty wonderful bunch of writers here…a little whacked sometimes but…you guys are great !

  24. I absolutely loved your blog and will be passing it on to friends! Working late at night and couldn’t stop laughing. So nice to hear someone who doesn’t hold back!! Keep up the real talk!!

  25. Whoops. I’ve left a few posts now and I’ve mentioned the book I wrote in all of them

    Was that subtle?

    It’s about an abusive marriage I was in and I couldn’t forget it I tried. I’ve tried. It comes up.

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