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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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Work It On Out

Tonight I went to hear some music that is part of an annual series called “Arts & Ideas.” It’s  festival that brings in a palette of international performers,  musicians, artists, etc. It’s really quite impressive and I feel like a petulant child to say that it makes my skin crawl. I’m not sure if it’s the arts or the ideas, or the way it’s all served up on a bed of bright lettuce, or maybe it’s just the word “festival” that makes me want to wear velvet slippers with tiny jingle bells. I hated the concert tonight so much that I leaned over and whispered to my husband that I wanted to go He mouthed back, “what?” I leaned in to say it again when the man in back of us tapped my shoulder and said, “would you stop talking.” THere is some dispute as to whether he said “stop talking” or “PLEASE stop talking.” Whatever. I wanted to die and then I wanted to kill him. I spent the balance of the performance fantasizing about how I was going to turn around and say: why don’t you shut the fuck up. Or, what the fuck is it to you? Or, you really wanna fuck with me mother fucker. But instead I just slumped down and tried to drown out the concert, and stop thinking about how badly I wanted fro-yo.

How do you handle people who talk in theaters, or are you one?

36 Responses

  1. I tell them politely to stop talking, but, I, myself, am prone to bellow out important remarks at necessary moments.

  2. People need to lighten up. If you really cared about listening to the music you would download it from iTunes and listen to it on giant thousand dollar speakers in your underwear. Most live “arts” music is pretentious “see and be seen” tax subsidized wankery anyway. I’d rather see four drunk Irishmen playing loud Celtic folk in a pub that stank of beer.

  3. One of the reasons I pretty much stopped going to theaters is I got tired of turning around to tell the people behind me to shut the fuck up. I thought maybe I was being consistently too provocative for my luck to hold out.

    Though at the Lou Reed concert at the Santa Fe Opera House a few years back (yes, he actually crossed over the Hudson), there were two drunks who sat down behind me and started kicking the back of my seat. Maybe I looked like some kind of mark, in my faggy Greek sailor’s hat and black leather jacket, with the seats on either side of me empty. I turned around and told them to cut it out. One of them leaned forward and cocked his fist back. I said, “I really don’t think you want to do that.” This punk didn’t know that the large young man sitting two seats away from me and also wearing a black leather jacket (but no hat) was about to turn to him and growl into his leeward ear, “Are you threatening my dad?” He backed off big time, apologizing profusely, and he and his friend got up and moved to the other end of the hall. We saw them slither out a side exit before the end of the show. Wanted to beat the traffic, I’ll bet.

    Anyway, nowadays I figure if I can’t go to a show with a bodyguard, why not order pizza delivery and watch NetFlix, you know?

  4. I find telling people to shut the fuck up strangely therapeutic.

  5. I don’t think there’s a way around it — people, I mean. I go to a lot of concerts (but try to avoid festivals), and there is always someone with a very large back right in front of me; or singing louder than the artist behind me; or releasing toxic gas *anonymously* instead of in a stall somewhere on either side.

    I really empathized with your despair. Nice post!

  6. I want to MURDER people who rattle candy wrappers.
    They disturb my snoozing.

  7. Betsy,

    A little analysis here.

    You were out the night before, right?

    You just go out too much.

    Better to stay home, drink, snuggle with loved-one, and watch TV.

    I know we’re a bookish sort, but facts are facts. Sometimes it’s best not to read and not to attend a party and definitely not to attend a music festival in New Haven.

    I say NO all the fucking time.

    Yours truly, Jody

  8. When I get pissed off I sigh deeply. If that doesn’t work I sigh really deeply until someone tells ME to shut the fuck up.

    Years ago we went to a gallery opening, my daughter was exhibiting, she won top honors. With arms crossed across his chest my husband held up a wall for most of the evening. They served a few munchies plus wine and lemonade. I was buzzing around talking to people and finally made it back to hubby-against-the-wall. He nodded toward the food table, we both watched as someone took an almost empty pitcher of lemonade and chugged the contents like it was a huge mug of beer…and sucked the lemon.

    “I’ve had enough culture,” he said. My husband is not a culture kind of guy, he’s a couch man. I on the other hand prefer on-demand.

  9. How you handled the GIB (guy in back) was more interesting to me. It was chickenshit and the exact way I would’ve done it. Outwardly, I would have been the same coward you were. Inside, I would beat the guy to a pulp, strangled him, attacked with some intricate karate move that would have ended with me snatching the asshole’s heart from his chest. All of this could have been avoided. Don’t you have cleavage or something where you can tuck a note pad and pencil?

  10. I like my theatre with a little laughter and a little nattering. No seat kicking thanks

  11. There are few things that piss me off more than people who talk during movies. The guy behind you was a bit of a prick, however, and I only take out the serial talkers.

    My judgmental M.O. is this: I glare – once, twice – then ask them to “PLEASE stop talking.” If it continues, I nudge my husband, who already knows what’s coming (he’s been through this once or twice) and we move to new seats, away from the talkers. One last glare is sent over my shoulder as we move. If the people are REALLY egregious, I thank them for ruining the movie on the way out.

    My inability to chill the fuck out and just enjoy the damn movie explains why I have gone to a movie theater in about six months. Plus, there’s the law of averages: someone is really going to punch me in the face someday. Probably Tetman’s son.

  12. On the rare occasions I’ve had my wits about me, as opposed to within me or, sadly, without me, I’ve turned and smiled and said something like,
    black crow perched on
    the dead maple’s lone gray branch,
    blue sky, June morning.

    And after Mr. or Ms Obnoxious has shifted uncomfortably and vacated their seat, I’m reminded again that people stay away from what they don’t understand.

  13. My grievances are reserved for narrators in the theatre, whether live or at the movies. If it isn’t a once-off remark, but seems to be the start of a running commentary of closed caption verbal subtitles for the thinking impaired — “oh, look, she doesn’t see him!” “He doesn’t trust her, why not?”, or “This part is a lot like the one he played at Long Wharf five years ago, wait, was it five years ago? No, I’m wrong, that was a different actor, who am I thinking of? You know, he was in that movie…” Or comments like, ” This is the part I saw in the trailer, wait, it’s about to be really funny!” then I find one withering, “We are not all in your living room!” to be a fairly effective silencer.

  14. Well, there are a few different kinds of movie talkers.

    “I want to leave” “What?” “Dude, I said I want to leave. I hate this fucking movie.” etc.–that’s fine. Territorial spatting over popcorn is also fine. Little kids and old people with hearing issues always get a free pass.

    Other than that, I’m militant and direct. First I ssssssh. If they look, I nod encouragingly. Yeah, that was me. Yeah, I’m talking to you. If they keep talking I say something like “shut the fuck up, this isn’t your living room” and then “why are you such an entitled asshole? I didn’t pay $25 to hear you talk about [whatever].” Once I vaulted over a row of empty seats to confront a guy who told me to “eat shit” or something, and then realized he was all of about 15 and on a date with a girl. Not a proud moment.

    Seat kicking? Yeah, once. A huge Russian guy TOOK A PHONE CALL in the middlle of Waitress and, after sssh and shut the fuck up were ignored, I kicked the back of his chair, hard, and let loose a string of epithets until he got up and scuttled out.

    I don’t go to the movies very often. Too traumatic. If I win the lottery, I’m totally getting a screening room.

    • I’m also a shusher, although I prefer to remain anonymous. When you’ve grown up in 1980s Miami, where guns were (are? It’s been a while) the preferred method of conflict resolution, you seek to avoid being acknowledged as the reprimander, just in case somebody’s packin’.

  15. You crack me up. Why did you go in the first place?

    Me, I have a hard time with women who spray on enough perfume to asphyxiate, within a fifty foot radius, anything that breaths.

    Most importantly, did you get your fro-yo?

  16. In a movie theater, if they are obnoxiously disruptive then I ask them to please hold it down. Failing to respond to that, I seethe. Fortunately, since I have been known to have a somewhat volatile temper, I’ve not had the occassion to go off. Which is a good thing because that never solves anything. And at my advanced age, I wouldn’t want to get physical as a twelve year old could kick my sorry ass through the goal-post of life these days.

  17. First of all, your comment about wanting to leave wouldn’t have bothered me had I been in your vicinity. I’m like most of the others on here who can tolerate a simple statement as long as it’s not a running diatribe.

    Most things I can tolerate with ease and without aggravation. The things that I struggle with are:

    1) Slow drivers in the fast lane – Move the fuck over!
    2) Slow drivers you are trying to pass who speed up as if daring you to get ahead of them.
    2) Screaming kids in a restaurant – and I mean the ones that keep screaming while the parents try to ignore it. Pls remove your screaming kid so the rest of us can eat in peace. (I raised two – and neither one EVER screamed in public. If they had even dared, they would have been removed so fast, only the echo of it would have remained in other patrons ears, like the fading of a siren)
    3) People on their cell phones ALL the time – forget about in the theater (movie or otherwise – as if they can’t read the rules flashed on the screen) I’m talking about the people talking in the bathrooms while doing their business, talking in restaurants, talking while grocery shopping, talking while they buy gas, talking just outside of the church before they go in, talking at their kids ball games, talking talking talking. What in hell is so important the rest of us have to be subjected to every single thing you have going on in your life? This would be my time to want to yell SHUT THE FUCK UP, but, like you, I never have.

    • Donna, You get an Amen from me on the screaming kids thing!! I have an entire chapter devoted to it in the next book. (Chapter title: Crying Babe Magnet.) I HAVE said something, on several occasions to oblivious parents. Three words–Ritalin, and, birth control!

      • Yep – it is very strange to me why parents don’t wise up about public etiquette when it comes to misbehaving children. We don’t go out to eat very much (we both love to cook), but when we do, we want to enjoy it and too many times we haven’t. The screaming kid thing can be a real fun sucker…

  18. I never talk during movies or plays. My mother must believe that her commentary is an integral part of the entertainment. We constantly need to ssshh her. My sister, SSS, is a regular here and needs to weigh in. Several years ago we attended a performance of Gypsy–in NYC. I actually had anxiety over how much Mom would annoy the other patrons. The play was peppered with audience distractions, including three drunk Jersey Shore Whores behind us. “This is boring. I want a snickers bar and another beer.” Also, there was a woman roaming around lost (we diagnosed dementia). A man next to Sherry seemed to be suffering from Tourette’s. He squeaked! Really. It was the making of a great SNL sketch… We just laughed.

  19. The talkers are nothing, nothing, compared to the phone people. Phone people are very very important.

    Last week I sat in the 2nd row at a Tom Perrotta reading Ten minutes in, a man and woman (Big Shot Producer and Screenwriter! Wow! So IMPORTANT!!) sauntered in and made fuss with some seats in the front row. Important Man held his phone up in front of his face and scrolled through his email, and when it flashed “Incoming Call” he answered it. And talked. Talked while Tom was reading not 8 feet in front of him.

    Not to be outdone, Important Woman next to him answered her ringing phone and said, “Hello. Can you hear me? Hello.” Tom stopped for an instant, and then read on. Important Woman stuffed a finger in one hear so she could hear the person on her phone.

    I wanted to drag both of them out by their important fucking hair.

  20. Slightly different experience. When our daughter was 2 1/2 we were eating in a restaurant, daughter in a high chair. A gentleman took umbrage because she was looking at him. Demanded that we control her and keep her from staring at him. I was younger in those days. I told him to move to another table.

  21. First, I would like to say that I was systematically responding to every post made since early in the year (just shy of 100). I have a folder in my email called ‘Lerner Words”.

    I started posting comments and things, but I started with the oldest first. That’s dumb. Now, I’m starting at the beginning and working back. Duh.

    I have posted a link in each reply to a Kickstarter account to get my first book published. Any help/support would be greatly appreciated.

    To answer today’s question, I was at the movies with the woman who was the inspiration for Edith (in the book I wrote) and during the previews, a man loudly made a raspberry. It was funny and no one said anything. (the book’s a better story)

  22. If a stick-up-his-ass concert attendee had the nerve to tap my shoulder, I probably would have burst out laughing and told him to get a life. I don’t know if I could have managed a resounding, “Fuck Off!” if I was planning on staying. Maybe, though.

    P.S.- For all you theater goers out there. I just saw the best movie of the year last night: “Moonrise Kingdom.” I won’t elaborate because my words would wreck it. Trust me. See it!

  23. Greetings from Austria, where I’m here doing research and getting shushed all over the fucking place by the deutschlanders. In one of the castles, my husband was tactically admiring the filigreed hinges on a door and the docent jumped all over his ass as though he’d just taken a shit on the carpet.

    Speaking of shit, I’m on day four without a movement. I know that’s TMI, but there’s a connection, I think, to German-speaking countries and constipation. And I’m allowed to say this because I was born here. And, like you, Betsy, I don’t handle opprobrium well. I’ve been telling our GPS-robot to shut the fuck up all over the place as she demands we take nonsensical routes through Europe.

  24. Haha. I remember when that Festival of Arts & Entertainment started about twenty years ago. I’m amazed it’s still in exitstance! As for theater/concert talkers… if the music is loud enough you should be able to talk at will. Obviously, you and the hubbs must have been stuck in the back of the venue where it was too quiet so Mr. “Will you keep it the f-u-c-k down” could hear both the music and you! I can feel your pain. I would have snuck out for a bio-break and NOT made it back.

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