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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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I’ve Stepped in the Middle of Seven Sad Forests

 

Gilda Radner & Jane Curtin On "Saturday

I went to a performance tonight of my daughter’s sketch comedy troupe. Sixteen or so college students doing hilarious sketches: outrageous, provocative, and politically incorrect in the extreme. The audience was filled with friends, screaming with laughter, calling out their friends’ names. It was a tremendous amount of fun, but as I drove home I fell into a familiar funk. I I didn’t join a single group in college, unless sitting in Washington Square Park and smoking cigarettes on a bench with other people smoking and walking by is considered a club. I wrote a lot those days. My diaries were inky and filled with self-doubt. I worked on the fourth floor of the library, the smoking floor, and also because a guy I had a crush on worked there, though I never said hi.

Are you a loner or a joiner?

24 Responses

  1. Regretful loner.

    The fourth floor of our library was an industrial looking room of stacks. But those were surrounded by desks no one seemed to know about, and I i Erie there. Until I found, to my shock, someone else working there one day (thee were only 40,000 students, I mean, what were the odds? The nerve!) I don’t rink I wrote there after that, unless I did a lap first to make sure I was alone.

    What the hell.

  2. I guess I’m a hybrid. I am a loner in the sense that I embrace my time alone, but I also find a sense of joy and relief in engaging with people with a similar mindset and interests. I’m the first to arrange a party or get-together, yet when the time comes and I actually have to put on pants and head out of the house to interact with people, I often regret making those plans. Socially bipolar, perhaps? Is that a thing? If so, that’s me.

  3. A loner mainly, but I’ll join as a member of the audience sometimes. I don’t really like to be looked at.

  4. I think I’m a loner. But I am also an organizer. In college I was the president of the Philosophy Association and the International Students Organization. I was kind of like the Reese Witherspoon character in the movie Election.

  5. Definitely a loner. And you can’t even smoke anymore in Washington Square Park. I almost got a ticket once but talked my way out of it. Can’t afford to get in trouble there, as I’m The Wizard of Washington Square – when it’s warm enough. Sherry, I hope it’ll be good weather for your next trip!

  6. SSS and I are channeling one another.

    We’re members of Cape Fear Cotillion. That means 3 parties a year. Two formal and one casual. I told my husband a couple weeks ago as we were getting all gussied up, I was done with it.

    Then I got there. And I had a blast. So, now I’m on the fence again about quit, or don’t quit.

    I love being home, and hate contemplating going to the store, much less dealing with the holidays and all the hoopla. Hate it. Until I get there, then I’m right in the middle of it, buzzing around, joking, laughing the loudest laugh. The life of the party. The social butterfly. The queen of comedy.

    Maybe that makes me a….loiner?

  7. Loner, except for string quartets (which are hard to do alone). Even there, I was the odd person out.

  8. A loner. I’m funny, though. Don’t mean to be, just am. When I was working, they always asked me to be the entertainment at retirement parties, baby showers, divorce celebrations. I have no trouble speaking in front of a crowd. It’s when I have to make small talk that I freeze. After I say fine, thank you, I have nothing else. I’d rather clean a bus station toilet with my bare hands than go to a party and do face-to-face stuff. Hate them. Can’t say strongly enough how much I hate them.

  9. Nothing involving veterans, cops, politics, or religion, but I’m part of a local group that plants seagrass, sows scallops,and actually does stuff for our bay, right here, right now. I was a member of the Parrotheads for a few years, but the hangovers became too, too frequent.

    ATUS-All The Usual Suspects is an unstructured, tight-knit group of west coast sailors that I am happy to have been adopted by. I sail with them every year or so, and some of them come here and sail now and then.

    Like Donna, I enjoy home, and don’t like to get out much. I deeply enjoy sailing alone; it gets the cobwebs off my soul.

  10. Not only didn’t I but it didn’t occur to me. Finally I found my group of loners on the literary magazine. But I never felt a sense of belonging. And when I do it’s rare and like a flash.
    For a strange reason I feel at home in libraries and hospitals where a greater purpose covers us .

  11. Can I just say that this blog makes you a joiner, and by extension us followers joiners (in some strange cyberspace way), so it’s apparently never too late.

  12. Loner. And when I did join something in high school, it was the cross country team. The loneliness of the long distance runner is an accurate description.

    I enjoy my alone time, often annoyed when someone disturbs my solitary ruminations. It’s probably why I prefer the woods; deer, coyote and bear are also loners, running away as fast as they can when I intrude on their world.

    These days I’ve joined in with friends making music instead of playing solo. It’s good, but oddly, we’re a band of loners, coming together to bang out tunes that provide relief and occasionally sound good.

  13. A Facebook post read something like Loners Unite! Separately. In our own homes.

  14. I was a loner and a misfit all through school/college, but somehow always managed to find my own kind, and we would happily be weird together. At my first college, I was sitting alone in the cafeteria, wearing odd clothes, knowing no one there, when a stranger walked over and said, “You look interesting. May I sit here?” She was also wearing very odd clothes…and is still a close friend today, decades later.

    I love being alone, and hate crowds/big parties, but am happy to also have a group of close friends who get together regularly, and who I can be myself with. I’m an artist as well as a writer, and two friends and I love to go out sketching together — which typically involves sitting quietly, drawing, with a minimum of chatter and a maximum of comfortable silence. It’s perfect.

  15. “Are you a loner or a joiner?”

    Yes.

  16. Hi! I just want to say that I just finished reading your book Food and Loathing… and I’ve never related more to a book in my entire life. I feel like we have a lot in common and it was comforting in a sense to read your memoir because it made me realize that maybe I am not so “crazy” and that there are people out there like me. Ever sense I can remember I have been a compulsive overeater. I have always medicated with food, whether I am happy or sad.

    This year has been the worst. I am 21 years old and am studying English/Creative Writing (like you!) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A few days ago I got on the scale and started crying because I had hit 200 pounds. I am 204 pounds. I have never been 200 pounds in my life. Although I am a bit tall (5’8), I’m obviously still overweight and let me just say it… fat. After all of the Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizzas I have shoveled into my mouth this year I don’t know why I was surprised to make it to the 200 mark…

    This year I’ve dealt with a lot (I was raped and a few months later was mugged outside of my apartment… Trump winning the presidency hasn’t helped get me out of bed either…) and I have resorted to food and drugs. I recently switched my anti depressant to Effexor – I’ve been on Lexapro and Prozac before, neither of which ever really did anything for me so I’m really hoping this will help.

    Anyway, I don’t even know if you’ll see this, but I wanted to say thank you for telling your story. I really appreciate your style of writing and sense of humor as well. I think it’s next to impossible to get through this kind of shit without seeing the funny side.

    • Hang in there. Keep writing. Get some help. Thank you for your honesty and generosity. Shine up that tiara and know that we love you.

    • So sorry to learn you have joined The Club. I hope you have found a trusted ear to help you navigate your new life as a Survivor of Violent Crime. I waited too many years and regretted it. Stay well.

  17. So much a “joiner” that, I have to admit, I’ve won awards for all that volunteerism. But, the many hours spent within the world of philanthropy have been a good balance against what has broken my heart. It has also brought me wonderful friendships, great insight into human behavior and inspired me to fill journals with dialogue, descriptions and poetry.

  18. Another nice piece, Betsy. Many thanks. I alway like your posts, in particular their lyrical or defiant titles and thoughtful questions, including this one “Are you a loner or a joiner?”

    Does it sound pitiful to admit you’re a loner not a joiner? The manner people labeled “disconnected”? But it’s what I think I am.

    Though, there seems to be no clear-cut distinction between the two. I love my solitude for most of the time but not all the time.

    Some life periods you have to be a joiner. For your own survival, your family.

    I don’t feel apart (but warmer instead) in a nice cafe with people around, only by siting there and sipping my coffee and writing my stuff, like a loner.

    Several instances I prefer being alone to do things that join the others in certain way; there are moments I feel lonely in a crowd.

    And, there are also moments when you join (or lead) a cheering crowd in vehemence, but sit quiet and alone afterward, with your own decision, nobody else could help, and responsibilities fall on you and you alone. What kind of loneliness there?

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