• 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 Love You Just the Way You Are

I met Teri on Friday night here in New Haven. She was here for a writer’s conference and looked me up. She was here last year, too, and got in touch. But I successfully avoided her then. I couldn’t do it again. I have not relished the idea of meeting anyone who reads the blog, even those I’ve come to love through their comments. First, it scary. Second, I know I can’t possibly live up to any expectations. Third, like most writers I’m the fraud behind the curtain. I send out these the sentences with the hope of a fortune in a stale cookie. I’ve got this persona and the one I bring to my work as agent fairly well developed by now, but it doesn’t make me okay, or any more real. Or at least not more real than sitting behind a computer or with a notebook at a cafe describing the girl across the way, her wool socks on a summer day.

Teri was more than lovely, she was smart and psychologically astute. I could tell she was a generous friend, and I loved hearing about the people from the blog she met on her many travels. I’d like to be a little more like her, including the fact that the bitch just lost twenty pounds. But I’m me. Fuck it.

48 Responses

  1. I met Sherry in Venice last year and it was the sort of day you didn’t really want to end. I knew we would have a blast the moment the first Campari spritz hit the table.

  2. Teri’s awesome. So glad you guys got some face-to-face time. She’s the glue that holds our little FTF club together. Here’s a little story about Teri, Betsy, and the genesis of our “Finish the Fucker” jewelry: http://comingofageinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2011/11/ftf.html

    P.S. Tuesday is the start of my two-year hiatus from teaching to write and publicize my book! FTF! FTF!

  3. Oh, and Sherry guest posted over at my blog in order to publicize her 52/52 Project! She wrote a lovely piece: http://comingofageinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-doors-open-but-ride-aint-free.html

  4. Ya know Betsy I think we figured you out a long time ago; you are like the rest of us but with curlier hair. I have no preconceived notions about you, the ones I have are about myself and I am working through them as I write, like right now.

    That’s why I didn’t go to this weekend’s Wesleyan’s Writer’s Conference. It has a great reputation, it’s right down the road, sort-of, super convenient, sort-of, but I was afraid I’d meet someone who read my column and even more afraid that no one has.

    Those conferences are so writery, filled with so many educated word whores. Can you tell how intimidated I am? Can you tell how scared I am?
    Christ I miss this.
    Just like a writer…it’s all about me.

    Is Teri as pretty as she looks in her picture? I could have talked calories.

  5. I felt exactly the same way meeting up with Sherry S-S last year, but it was a blast and I apparently didn’t disgrace myself, because we’re rooming together at the Midwest Writers Workshop next month.

    I imagine Teri is as lovely as her blog posts and that smile of hers (and I still have my FTF bracelet).

  6. Teri came to stay with me last year, and I’ll admit to a pre-visit cleaning frenzy and death threats aimed at my ten-year-old to keep him in line during her visit. But Teri is so warm and funny (well, who am I telling, you’ve met her), that we were chilled out in about thirty minutes flat, lid off the cookie jar and an Oreo binge in progress.

    Sometimes a little risk leads to a big reward.

  7. and i’m me, and fuck it, too, (and after that i wrote something-something-something and then something-something, but fuck it.)

    except… i lost twenty pounds so far this year, too. twenty more to go and i’m going to be so lithe at my optimal BMI. not to mention perpetually dizzy from hunger.

  8. When I was lost in the desolation of an unnamed northern European country, Teri sent me a humongous box of Potato Chips and dip mixes. It was caught in customs for weeks, opened by customs, customs threatened a tariff… too funny! And one of the most thoughtful presents ever. (We have a theory the customs guys just wanted to eat them.)

  9. Betsy, I’ve been fortunate to meet both you and Teri, and you each far surpassed my expectations–which were already set pretty damn high.

  10. Big fan of you both.

  11. Forget “But I’m me. Fuck it.”
    Embrace “I’m me. Fuck everyone who doesn’t like it.”

    “It’s naïve of us to be surprised. What goes to make a writer is unlikely to be what goes to make a sound family man. The thin skin of the writer, his dissatisfaction with whatever condition of life he finds himself in, his impressionability, his conviction that every feeling he has is no more than a first draft of feeling – that such a man ought not to marry or have family is obvious but, to such a man, it is precisely what’s obvious that is slowest to present itself to him.” — Howard Jacobson

  12. You read her right, Betsy. Teri is a generous friend and one of the most interesting people I’ve met through blogging. I spent one evening hanging out with her a couple of years ago and since then, I’ve been anxious for her to finish her memoir because I’m convinced that we barely scratched the surface of her stories during that evening.

  13. I can feel the way you have felt. And the image “the fraud behind the curtain.” Most of the time, I just want to be invisible, to be among the strangers, “intimate strangers.”

  14. I met “JustAnotherEmpress” when I chased her through a Chicago hotel bar, past the lobby, to the elevator banks yelling, “Suzy! Is that you?!?! Come back!!” So the flying monkey may not be far off.

  15. I would so love to go to a party with you all.That would be one for the books.

    • Ahoy frank, I’ll bring the chips and dip, oh wait I am the dip.
      How about a nice big boat and we can all go.

    • Oftentimes I feel that our occasional gatherings here are like a masquerade ball, of the finest kind. I love hiding behind my notebook, screen name or pen, my wool-socks-in-summer peeking out.

      Brave chicks both for venturing across the line between reality and cyber reality. Party on.

      • Carolynn, it may be evidence that my judgement hasn’t improved over the years, but we’re towing a boat 2,400 miles or so round trip to show it for the magazine. The editors are coming in, and there will be rum.

        We’ll be getting there on the 27th, and I’ll be showbound for the weekend, but would dearly love to meet you. I’ll drop a note through your column.

        Hard work is all I know…….

      • Not sure where this will fall in the line of comments but I LOVE BOAT SHOWS. I used to own and run a boat supply and nautical gift shop so I know my aft from a hole in the water.

        What, you’re towing. I would have thought you’d sail around the Horn or at least the P-canal.

        Okay kids, Wooden Boat Show weekend of the 28th, Mystic CT.
        Yes, the Mystic Pizza town.

        Betsy, you’re not that far away, your daughter would love Mystic.
        Independentclause, have I gotta a comma for you’

    • Please invite me too.

      • I was going to sail up, but should have left about six weeks ago, and overslept.

        This is going to be fun, because the venue, show, and town are wonderful, and because my editor, JC, and his better twelve tenths, will be there, as well as Lola, my own Fleet Admiral, who calls me bosun, among other things. I call that other boss JC because he makes rules, gives sound advice, and sometimes offers redemption. He sometimes calls me “late”.

        Seriously, I would love to meet, and that goes for anyone here.; Betsy, if you showed up, I might be at a rare loss for words. Carolynn, I’ll be the guy with a beard and boat, hopefully next to the Small Craft Advisor tent.

      • I’ll be the gray haired lady wearing glasses. Hows THAT for narrowing things down.

  16. I’m so glad you two got to meet. It sounds silly, but I’ve found the more writer people that I’ve met, the more faith I’ve developed in humanity. Because sometimes they really don’t want something other than to sit down for a drink and hear about the work, the writing, how we fit into the world, the people that you don’t hear when you turn on mainstream news. Sometimes we reach out just to feel less alone. Love.

  17. Used to be anyone showing up with a few grams, a packed and polished bong, six pack, a bottle of Kentucky bourbon, those with a song in their heart or any variation thereof was welcome into my deep woods home. Things changed. People started trying to convince technopop was where it was at even though the sounds offended my damaged eardrums (thank you, Captain Beefheart). Guitars got stolen. Money, the TV and the stereo disappeared. Girlfriend split with the skinny guy named Pelican (“I’m doing you a favor, dude; do you really want to be with someone who’d fuck me?”). So, I don’t know. No offense to anyone out there, but I’m more guarded now, caught up in my own little world with still a lot left to see and do. Maybe on neutral ground….
    Fuck it indeed. Where did the dream go?

    • just because it changed a bit doesn’t mean it’s gone

      • Thank you, Mary. These days it feels like the dream is hibernating , like a seed stuck in the ass of a sleeping bear, just waiting to see the light of day.
        Picked up 3 hitchhikers last week. They were on their way to town to pick up one guy’s car after he got busted for DWI. Instead of railing against the indignity of getting popped just for having a good time, I was pissed about dumbasses driving when they’re too fucked up to see. My tolerance level is bending at the edges with righteous indignation still somewhat intact.

  18. In every single thing I’ve read on any blog, (yours now included), good things have been said about Teri. I envy those of you who know her so well, have met her, and that she calls friend. Good friends, really good friends, are hard to come by.

    I read a quote recently, and I wish I could give credit to it’s author…I forgot to write the name down, but it said, “What I fear, I create.”.

    That’s me to a “t.” “But I’m me. Fuck it.”

  19. I am such a wallflower in this group that I could never show my face. You are a brave and crazy lot.
    With deep admiration and voyeurism,
    Blocked

  20. No worries, Betsy. Every one of us throws out these good lines, knowing all the time that we are the awkward stuttering people we have always been. Thanks for giving us the forum.

  21. Thank you Betsy for being unapologetically you and thanks to all for the FTF mantra. My book is like a kid nagging me for a ride to the skate park. I have looked for it on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, the library, Good Reads and Amazon.com. No one has done me the favor of writing it. Thanks, Bitches. Now I have to suffer through the rest of it just so I don’t go to my grave angry that I spent more time writing directionless freelance for large format glossy regional magazines when I knew I should have been finishing the fucker. When I do, I will pre-engrave my tombstone with ‘Nuff said.’

  22. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with Teri twice. She is a treasure and a tonic.

  23. It is weird meeting people you have an online relationship with. Back in my match.com days I mostly just wanted to have all these digital boyfriends. I truly hated actually dating them.

    But, fuck, Betsy, you’re a writer-Yenta. I’ve knocked back cocktails and/or coffee with (in order of date): Vivian, Shanna, Teri, Sherry, Laura, Lyra, Amy, Averil (still not Lisa yet, damn it, or Downith, or MSB, etc..) and we have all this connective tissue because of this little world you created.

    So not only is Teri sweet, spunky, brilliant and generous, but now she’s skinny too??!! Fuck!

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