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    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Yesterday Don’t Matter If It’s Gone

When I was a young girl, I was convinced that the Nazis were going to storm our house and take me away or kill us. My mother sat me down and explained the difference between rational and irrational fears. Since then my irrational fears have multiplied exponentially.

  1. I will be killed like the Clutters.
  2. I will be pushed in front a subway
  3. A crane will fall on my head
  4. I will choke on a turkey and bacon wrap
  5. A drunk driver will hit my car head on
  6. I will fall while crossing the street and get run over; manuscripts will spill out of my canvas tote and the pages will be taken up by the wind and scatter over Fifth Avenue like confetti.

What’s your irrational fear(s)?


p.s. two people haven’t claimed their copy of Calf. So please send me your address for your copy.



















17 Responses

  1. Oh, is there is a difference between rational and irrational fears? Even today?

    One of mine: when I leave the house, I will be walking down the street and drop dead. Or when I am somewhere, anywhere, I will drop dead. I wonder if I will know it is happening or just suddenly be on the other side – which is very worrying, what with the to-do list, never mind the kids.

  2. Plane crash. But only when I’m flying alone. I’m fine if we all die together.

    Hey Betsy, I finally finished the fucker. As in, it has a beginning, middle and end, but is it ever truly finished?

  3. I am terrified that I will become so adored that fans will hunt me relentlessly, and that I will resort to a beard, shades, hats, and a fake nose. In hiding, I will be crushed by wealth and fame, and live in debauchery, my friends replaced by sycophants and toadies. The tabloids will show grainy pictures. My identity will be stolen by a Ukrainian preteen, and I will live under a bridge with feral people and dogs. I will change clothes in the Men’s Room of the Public Library and eat from the dumpster behind the supermarket, where I will be recognized by a literate cop who is there to harass me. Restored, I will quickly die from flea-borne illnesses contracted while living with the feral.

  4. My sister told me that if she dies choking on a ham sandwich to make up a different cause of death. It’s become a family joke.

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Nazis will find me under the bed.
    Air bubble in the IV bag.
    Violent home invasion.
    Homicide bomber (relatively new fear.)
    Car crush with truck. Trucker never even realizes he hit me.
    On a pleasant country walk, a serial killer gets me.
    Snake bite.
    Nazis will find me in the closet.
    Et Cetera.

  6. Fearing being pushed in front of a subway is not irrational. Many years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, one day a man was pushed in front of a subway by four prankster teens. (I think it was the D train, and I think it was the 57th Street station — I could be wrong on both those details, it’s been a long time, but I clearly remember the news report). Nowadays, these many years later, in a different city, when the Red Line approaches the platform, I step back — sometimes close to a pillar, my hands out of my coat pockets, so I could grab the pillar if necessary and possible (that’s the irrational part of the fear, the belief I could somehow save myself at the last instant) — and I always think of that man, shoved off the platform and into the path of the train by four laughing teenagers on a dare.

    That’s an irrational fear? I don’t know. I saw a guy killed once in a gruesome and bloody way while he was working on the engine of a car, and for a long time I wouldn’t go near the engine compartment of a car while the hood was up. I got over that as time went by, but was it an irrational fear?

    Here’s an irrational fear: that people who aren’t the same race, color, or creed that I am are going to hurt me due to some mysterious malice arising from the difference. It’s hard not to have at least some small part of this fear — we’re only human — while for some, this fear is truly irrational and leads them to make sometimes murderous mistakes.

    Here’s an irrational fear: that an eagle is going to fly high above me and drop a tortoise on my head and kill me. I don’t know anyone who has this fear, though Aeschylus should have.

    Here’s a rational fear: if I don’t post this comment and get a move on, I’m going to be late for work. Time to ready myself for watchful platform-standing.

  7. I really had to think awhile on this question. Every fear I came up with I could rationalize in some way, as in, well, I think that cause this, and I think this, cause that.

    The one irrational fear (let’s call it what it is – stupid fear) is I will encounter wild hogs while running on the trail at the farm in Mississippi and they will attack and gore me to death. Or a pack of coyotes will chew me up. I only go there once or twice a year. How’d I do? Considering the odds and irrationality?

  8. My most irrational one would be suffocating in a sensory deprivation tank. Although I almost did, so I totally justify it now.

  9. Number One, anything related to my kids. (Any coincidence that my first published story was about a man who lost his daughter…and almost everything else?)

    Other fears emerge when I’m nearing what I think is a good draft of something. I’ll get his by a bus. There’s a Scott-sized meteor with my name on it. This will be the last drive home I ever take, because some jerk will run a red light and I’ll never have done the work that needed to be done, never finished the fucker.

    That I’ll finish the fucker and it won’t be any good anyway. Where was that bus when I needed it?

  10. Let me plagiariize: all of the, all of the, all of the above. Plus choking. Plus slipping in the shower when I’m alone and dying. And, as has already been mentioned… the unthinkable…anything to do with my kids is unthinkable, even unmentionable, even as I write this, because even to fathom might bring about a causality… which is, of course, irrationally rational, isn’t it?

  11. given the world we live in it seems nothing is an irrational fear…instead i think the question is what is a rational/irrational expectation about how to go about changing things. what kind of cooperation can rationally be hoped for?

  12. Irrational: spiders will crawl into my ears while I sleep.
    Rational: I’ll wake up tomorrow 70 years old and no closer to realizing my dream.
    I never was any good at knowing when to walk away.

  13. After my first post, I thought about the question, and decided that I don’t have many fears, period. Of those, most are rational, in that they are based on experience or probability. What I sometime have is irrational anger, buttressed by a John Wayne ” I don’t do it to others, and I won’t have it done to me.” rational.

    It works so well in the movies.

  14. Love is vanishing and commitments no longer matter.
    It’s a blanket statement of these times, but then there’s this: My 85 year old father is gearing up for divorce # 4. He says he’s doing well and all is amicable, but he doesn’t suppress his revenge fantasies, anger and hurt for long. And he knows he’s not alone.
    My marriage is mostly solid — some ups and downs, although we’re mostly tight — but maybe hearts entwined inevitably unravel.
    Good bye Ruby Tuesday, hello Stormy Monday.

    • Mike, I wish you well, and I hope you are wrong about the inevitable unraveling of hearts entwined. Lola and I are approaching 40 years together, and hanging together. Here;s to the good, shipmate.

  15. I will turn into my mother.

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