• 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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Now Come and Join the Living, It’s Not So Far From You


berkshire-4415-sheer-ct-pantyhoseOver the weekend, I had a book event/fund raiser in Westport, CT. A bridge club invited me to read, followed by a luncheon, and two hours of duplicate bridge. First of all: this is my life. Is this my life? Who am I? Did I write a book about five Jewish octogenarians and learn to play bridge? Do I go to readings with my mother and kibbitz on the way there and back. And actually want to spend this time with her. And feel all this incredible connection with people about the book. Me? At one point, while signing books, someone yanked my dress (yes, I wore a dress!) and I discovered that the back of my dress was tucked up into the waist of my pantyhose and everyone could see my control tops and my ample arse.

What was your finest hour?

10 Responses

  1. It was called Hawaiian Village and it was a social club of sorts. It had a clubhouse and a pool and a volleyball court and my family joined when I was a young teenager. The summers were great there. We took swimming lessons and then in the afternoon the pool had open swimming and it seems like we never left the water. They sold hot dogs and potato chips and Cactus Coolers so, for the entire day, there was never a reason to go home. There was nothing upscale about the place, I remember cracked vinyl on the clubhouse floor and helping re-web the pool chairs. Everything was done by volunteers, including conscripted children. The entire property took up the space of about three suburban homes but it was a world unto itself.

    I was at an age when the female form became a thing of tremendous interest and curiosity to me. One such female was the oldest daughter of a rather large family that came regularly. She must have been 18 or so and I thought she was absolutely the loveliest creature I had ever seen in a swimsuit, and she was a sweet soul too. There was also a very blonde life guard who had freckles in the most interesting places. For the most part though, I was content just to swim and splash and goof around.

    Possibly the single most embarrassing moment of my life happened in the pool one summer morning. We were swimming laps during swim team practice. My age division commanded one lane of the pool and that lane was wide enough to allow swimmers going in both directions like two lanes of a highway. The trick was to be able to do a flip turn at the end of the lap and move over sufficiently to not run into oncoming traffic. Poor Odette was behind me when I made my flip turn and as I pushed off the pool wall and began my first stroke, my right arm came out of the water in a wide arc and dived right into her bathing suit top! Well, of course, we became somewhat entangled as I hurriedly removed my arm from her suit and fumbled with a weak and nervous apology and, of course, there was a “traffic jam” as others in the lane were suddenly forced to change directions to avoid collisions and wondered what had happened and you know, if the coach was yelling I never heard it because I was so mortally embarrassed about the whole event I just wanted to drown or skulk off somewhere and hide until I was so old no one would recognize me.

    If Odette had been embarrassed, she never let on. She hadn’t seemed fazed by the event and soon went back to her swimming. She went to the same school I did and was a year behind me and we didn’t run in the same circles and I think it was a moment we would have both liked to forget.

    My family maintained its membership after I left home but eventually the club closed for reasons I do not know. Eventually the property was sold and the clubhouse became someone’s home. The pool was filled in and two more homes were built on the property and now, when I drive by it, it is indistinguishable from the rest of the suburban neighborhood that was my home.

    I still love to swim and I still have a tremendous appreciation for the female form, but my youthful awkwardness I am mostly happy to report has somewhat subsided.

  2. Third grade. Finally got to sit next to the girl I had a crush on for well over a year. Her name was Gina. I was trying to hold in a sneeze but after awhile I couldn’t refrain…simultaneously, I farted which was louder than the sneeze. The classroom erupted in laughter. My face undoubtedly purple, I wished I could just disappear and never be seen by anyone in the class ever again. I’ve had many embarrassing moments since, but that one stung the worst by far.

  3. First of all, I am loving this and am grateful to the others who have posted (so far). Well, I can think of at least two moments. When I was 6 or so, my mother had to drive to work early in the morning and would leave me with a nice English couple, who lived near the school. They had two well-behaved dogs and a son, a bit older than I was, who went to private school. For an hour or so, I would speak to no one, except maybe the dogs, and watch cartoons in the living room before walking to school. For some reason, I was embarrassed to ask where the bathroom was and never needed to know — until I did. On that morning, what started as a little urge led to a full-blown emergency. I had to resort to “the jig” which involved a lot of jumping around, with my hands cupping the area at risk, and some desperate kneeling on the floor. When I happened to look up, the son was standing there, gaping, in his blue blazer and tie. (As I recall, I just sat back down in my chair and somehow found the strength to hold it in until school.)

    In my first year of college, I had gotten friendly with another freshman who lived down the hall. It was too late to ask her yet again what her name was, so I thought I’d be clever by asking her how she spelled it. She helped me out, but I didn’t realize it was her last name until a month or two later.

  4. There’s something about being a kid…for whatever reason, what happens back then sticks with you.

    Finest hour #1 – fourth grade, there was a boy I liked in school. He sat one row over, two seats up, and he would always turn around and smile at me while class was going on. I came in with a cold one day, and similar to “Anonymous” I sneezed – except I didn’t fart, snot blew out, down my lip, and onto my desk. He was turned around at the very moment. He saw it all. He never smiled at me again. How fickle is a fourth grade heart.

    Finest (truly the WORST) hour #2 – I was just out of high school, and on a date with my boyfriend, where some out of control shenanigans were taking place in the back seat of his car. Blue lights flashed, and here comes a knocking on the foggy window. “Get out, now!” There was a scramble for clothes – which were in a tangle on the floorboard. My boyfriend managed to drag on his tighty whities – backwards. He did better than me, I couldn’t locate my bra, or underwear and while I was in the process of trying to drag on my jeans, the beating on the window continued, along with a threat of breaking the window. We heard the glass crack and my boyfriend freaked out about HIS CAR. Yet, while I was screaming to let me get my pants on – and he opened the door. By then, Mr. Law Enforcement was in a real snit, and he yanked me out of the car – naked. And there I stood. Mr. LE screamed for my boyfriend to get the fuck out! He did, not looking so tough with his undies on backwards. Mr. LE grabbed my arm and hauled me off to his squad car and put me in the back of it – naked. He went back to my boyfriend, got my pocketbook, and proceeded to get my license (thank God I was 18 at least – of age) He threatened to take me down to the station – just as I was, march me through the hallways, just as I was, and call my parents to come get me – just as I was. But he didn’t. Instead, he took his sweet time checking the rest of me out, panning his very bright flashlight from top to bottom, repeatedly.

    What a fine hour that was…haven’t told many people that story. Count yourselves privileged. 🙂

  5. I’m on the periphery. Just on the borderline of being one of the cool kids. Sure I was pretty and smart, but a wannabe nontheless, yearning, in 9th grade, to be part of the “in-crowd.” Maybe you could sense the vulnerability radiating darkly in my eyes. The kind that lets those mean girls have their hey day.

    Anyway, some how I made it into the Junior Varsity cheerleading squad.
    One afternoon, still in regular clothes at a makeshift practice, we were learning the cheers and moves. How distinctly I remember how proudly I lowered my voice to a husky, clipped shout and dipped and jumped. I was wearing a purple wool plaid skirt belted at the waist and puffed with a crinoline. I loved that skirt.

    The unfortunate happened, of course. We squatted down to touch the ground and then leap into he air in an explosive wide-armed, split-legged jump. “Step -on-the-starter-crank-up the lizzy, come on Huskies, let’s-get -busy.” Lo and behold (behold!) the damn crinoline get stuck under my shoe and…ooops…there was a puff of lingerie ringed around my feet below a deflated skirt.

    What exploded was the laughter.

    (I never wore that skirt again.)

  6. When I was a lad, probably in 4th grade, right about this time of year, I was dashing to school because I was late, again. Some leaves were stuck to the bottom of my Thom McCann shoes and try as I might, I couldn’t get them off. I made it to school just in time and hurried to my desk. Before the teacher began to take attendance, everyone noticed a horrible smell. Some idiot had stepped in dog shit and tracked it into the classroom. I followed the splotches with my eyes and was quite dismayed to find the trail led right to my desk, my foot. The leaves were stuck to dog shit on my sole and I had to clean up the mess in the classroom — the janitor was already out mopping the hallway and he gave me a nasty look when he saw me hopping on one foot to the bathroom to clean off my shoe and get some paper towels. I was retching from the odor as I cleaned up the shit and to this day whenever I find wet leaves stuck to my shoe, I think, uh-oh.

    #2 (ahem): This didn’t happen to me, but I was a witness. A couple of weeks ago, a guy came into the small rural post office I work in. He was in a chatty mood and he had left his car, a white Suburu Outback, idling in the parking lot. Another guy, Don, came in and got his mail. He drove a white Suburu Forrester and he too, left his car engine on while he dashed in to get his mail and then drove away. The first guy, Rich, left and quickly returned, partly agitated and mostly incredulous.
    “That guy took my car!” I looked up Don’s number and when we called the line was busy. I told Rich to drive Don’s car back home until we could get in touch with Don, but he refused. Turns out Don had just bought the car and, although, he thought some things about it were different, he didn’t check the registration until he got to Lake Placid (40 minutes away) and said, Oh shit. All worked out well in the end and the other day when Don came in, he whispered to me, “I’ll come back later when there’re some nicer cars in the parking lot.”

  7. “What was your finest hour?”

    There are so many to choose from. Oh, how to decide.

    Okay, this, from the end of my freshman year of high school, when I commanded the school ROTC program’s color guard.

    A slew of older kids I admired to the point of adoration were graduating that spring. The last appearance of the school year by any uniformed members of the ROTC department was at the graduation ceremony, where the Color Guard presented the colors in front of the assembled graduates. We were to troop off after the invocation. We didn’t. I didn’t know what an invocation was. I don’t remember what I thought it was supposed to be. After it was given, we remained standing in formation in front of the graduates, who were to remain standing until we moved off. The ceremony was in the gymnasium, which grew terribly quiet. A few of the graduates directly in front of me subtly motioned for us to go. I subtly shook my head and remained at attention with the Color Guard. After what was probably more than one minute but less than two, Sergeant Meade, the ROTC program advisor, who was standing up beside the stage off to my right, loudly whispered, “Callis! Move out!” I glanced at him. He was waving me toward him with both arms. I gave the Color Guard the correct orders for us to move off, and the ceremony resumed.

    In that crowd of graduates were a score of friends and acquaintances who I almost would rather have had my arms broken for than to be so humiliated in front of and mess up anything at their graduation. As soon as the Color Guard retired I left the gymnasium and stood outside. My brother was in attendance and I was to ride home with him. I tried to see as much of the ceremony as I could through the narrow wired glass windows in the doors, but I could not bear to go back inside.

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