• Bridge Ladies

    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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The Words She Knows the Tunes She Hums



When I was eight years old, I met a girl at camp and we became inseparable for the entire summer. I loved her. A month after camp ended, I ran into her in the stationery store where we shopped for back to school supplies. She was looking at some notebooks when I spotted her. Instead of running up to say hi, I pretended that I didn’t see her. Then when she noticed me and ran over, I acted very cool as if she were an distant acquaintance.

To this day I don’t know why I did that. Any theories? Any similar experiences?

20 Responses

  1. When you saw her again you were excited and your heart was wide open. Then it occurred to you how horrible you would feel if she didn’t feel the same about you anymore. You waited for her to notice you and approach you, so you couldn’t feel rejected. But you went too far and hid your heart. You felt vulnerable..

    • It may have also been a boost to your ego to think that someone you barely remembered thought so much of you. And in a public place.

  2. god, yes. it was my high school reunion and i completely ignored Shannon, an old friend of mine. i don’t know why i did it; i mean, i could come up with some lame excuses (my dad just had his first MI and was in hospital; another friend was fucking crazy the whole weekend and acting out) but they aren’t substantial enough. i’m an asshole.

  3. It’s pretty clear, Betsy. And, we all have those moments in our lives.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Nothing would ever be as perfect as those few idyllic weeks at camp and especially not a few awkward moments in a stationery store. Gushing is for those who live in the moment, for those who untidily let slip their wayward emotions and not for those who have already buried the treasure and marked the X.

  5. I think what you did when you were eight doesn’t really matter. What would you do in the same situation now?

  6. What made you think of this event all these years later? Did something trigger it?

    I think the places we happen to be in trigger it. In a different setting, maybe you would have run up to her. Like if you were in a park instead of a stationary store. Maybe you were too far removed from the haven of the camp.

    Public spaces can be a risky and awkward gangplank walk to rejection and lukewarm receptions. God forbid someone see us get shunned.

    I saw my doctor in Barnes and Noble and he acted like he was fucking George Clooney and I was slobbering all over his Starbucks drink trying to get an autograph.

    Fucking guy…he can give me a prostate exam but then act bothered and inconvenienced by having to say hello.

    Needless to say I never went back to his practice.

  7. You were greaser Danny. She was good girl Sandy. You just didn’t get to finish the movie.

  8. A snaggle toothed street hustler with more gold in his mouth than change in his pocket asks me for two American nickels and a dime. I look into his eyes and he doesn’t look away. The air is heavy with humidity and I give him some soggy peso notes. He hands me a dog biscuit. Hungry dogs roam the streets of the capitol. I toss the bone to a scrawny, mangy mutt. He devours it and is transformed into a soccer star. The next time I see him he is dining with el presidente in a restaurant I cannot afford. He ignores me but comes to visit in the night. In the darkness it is just us. His secret is safe with me. I had tossed him a bone and in the hot sticky night, he wants to return the favor.

  9. When I was nine, I was in the Girl Scouts. We were in Michigan, and about to move back to NC. Because we were leaving, my troop made me a group leader – or something like that. I was supposed to choose who would be in my group. My best friend Penny was standing RIGHT THERE and I didn’t pick her. I remember my mother mouthing her name at me silently, “Penny. Penny. PENNY!” all the while becoming more animated as she hissed/whispered. Penny’s mother was my mother’s friend – and standing right beside my mother.

    Instead, what did I do? I selected the girls who would be known today as …the mean girls. I still think about that, and why I chose those twits while not “seeing” my real friend, right there.

  10. I certainly know how to dodge certain people at certain times. But why? For all sorts of underlying reasons, I guess. Emotions rise up and I shy from the encounter – lazy, embarrassed, angry, insecure, resentful, or jealous. That’s all I can offer.

    But I had the reverse experience once. Nancy Miller was my best friend EVER in 2nd grade, then we moved. Fast forward ten years or so, I’m 16 and going on a teen tour. Guess who with!! And she looks at me, and through me, and sure, doesn’t recognize me (okay I’ve changed.) But she doesn’t even remember my name. MY NAME. Like a I never meant anything. Like I never existed.

    (PS I have gotten over it.)

  11. Betsy, I don’t know why, either. You were eight. Only a month had gone by. I’m guessing you were afraid of something.

    The similar experience I can report is notable for its differences in age and intervening time. In my senior year of high school one of my best buddies was a girl named Donna. She was a year younger than I was. The summer after graduation, she and I and Robert, a boy her age, and Don, a boy my age, spent pleasant hours hanging out in her driveway in the early evenings, sitting on her car and shooting the shit and listening to the radio, or hanging out in the desert after dark, again sitting on cars and shooting the shit and listening to the radio, and drinking beer and smoking some bullshit (she’s the one who taught me how to roll a joint). We all then went our separate ways, as happens after high school.

    Then nine years later, shortly before I left town, I was in line at the bank one day and I saw her, also in line. It’s been a long time and I don’t remember now if she was in the same line or a different one. I don’t remember if she saw me. I think she may have. I was with my fiance, Stephanie. I don’t remember if I said anything to Stephanie about her, but I may have. But I didn’t try to make eye contact with Donna and I hoped she didn’t see me or didn’t recognize me or thought that since I was with another woman she shouldn’t talk to me or I wouldn’t want to talk to her. A lot can happen to a person in nine years. And I really was about to leave town. Stephanie and I were at the bank to close our accounts. I knew there was no way to fill in nine years in a few minutes while standing in line at the bank, so why bother even to say anything? Nine years — a lot can happen. But I’ve always felt bad about it. I think she saw me, and I’ve always felt bad that I pretended I didn’t see her. You never can tell when it’s going to be the last time, and there’s going to be no fixing it later.

  12. Because you are one of those South Beach bitches. Hahahahahahah. Your description kiddo.

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