• 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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Do the Locomotion With Me



“People in their right minds never take pride in their own talents.” –Harper Lee

Okay, but why? Because you sound like a horse’s ass, because the moment you go braying about your novel a train will run you over, a wrecking ball will squish you, the contract you just signed will be revoked. Or maybe it’s because you have no talent, you overestimate yourself, you set your peg too high. Because pride is a seventh wonder of the world, a potent cocktail, a codicil, a moment you can’t take back. “I’m at the height of my career,” a writer recently said to me. I thought, “You’re not in your right mind.”

Are you?


18 Responses

  1. Joy is far less dangerous than pride, and probably as pleasant. As for being in my right mind, well, opinions vary, and maybe you should check back next week.

  2. If talent is innate, then taking pride in it is akin to being “proud” you’re tall. You can be glad you’re tall, but hardly something you can be proud of. You had nothing to do it it, it was in your genes. Being proud of the results of hard work, on the other hand, seems just fine.

  3. Time to talk about Cape Fear Cotillion again.

    When we were at the Christmas hullabaloo they put on, my book had only come out a couple months before. A friend of mine was part of the hosting committee and as dinner was about to be served, she welcomed everyone, had a couple of announcements and then the prayer. And she said, “Oh, and one last thing. We have a celebrity here tonight. We have an AU-thor, folks. An AU-thor in our midst. Donna Everhart, would you please stand up?”

    I tried ducking under the table. I sort of scrunched up, and was diverted by the fake napkin drop. She motioned at me urgently. (stand up! stand up!)

    I stood, my face as red as my dress. Truly a cringe worthy moment.

    I’d say yes, I am proud. Just not in front of anybody.

  4. I’m somewhere in the middle. I haven’t got to where I want to be yet, but I don’t think of myself as a complete hack, either (although that is probably closer to home). I am a modest man, slightly embarrassed — but pleased — when complimented. I feel I work hard to create a story that means something, so I do take pride in that.
    Right mind? Certainly not. But it’s the only mind I have.

  5. I can claim to living in the right side of my brain, but right-minded? Doubtful, along with believing I should be prideful of anything. Years and years of nun-centric education beat that notion out of my comfort zone. Granted, there are those short moments, when I might tempt a glimmer of satisfaction. But then, I hear the distainful taunts of long-dead nuns, opining on my particular unworthiness. A child’s memory is like wet concrete: such tactical bullying is difficult to remove once hardened into place. At this point of my life, I’m OK with the concept of embracing a humble approach to any praise.

  6. Yes I am. The most prized character trait at our house was humility, which my parents cultivated more deliberately than any talent we might have shown. To this day I’m deeply uncomfortable not only with prideful thoughts but also with the pursuit of any achievement that might lead to them in the future. Maybe this is why I always stop myself when it seems like I might get good at something.

    I don’t think I’ve ever connected these dots, so thanks, Betsy. Mini revelation before the coffee kicks in.

  7. “People in their right minds never take pride in their own talents.” –Harper Lee

    “Okay, but why?”

    It’s simple good manners. It’s also to be cautious of the pride that goeth before a fall. And, you never can tell — there’s the future, with its train, its ball, its revocation, it’s falling limb (the limb’s what nailed Odon von Horvath — a tree limb blown down as he walked along the Champ Elysees, which may be why you’ve probably never heard of him). Your talents, whether vaunted by yourself or others, may well come to naught.

    As for people being in their right minds, none are. I am not in mine but I am now in a hurry. The phone is ringing and no part of any talent I may possess is greater right now than my talent to get on with my day. We have a federal appeals court deadline Wednesday and if I don’t play well my part, I’ll be rattling my cup along the Gold Coast for spare change.

  8. My amazing talent is only overshadowed by my humility 🙂
    Like I have often said, I am the most famous persons I know. That shows you how dynamic my life is.

  9. Some of us bipolar things, not so surprisingly, at times do cycleswing wildly on ropes of our making, fly free through clouds, dragslush through shitfilled mud — not only in balloonblowburst opinions of our greatfucked selves, but too, in true performance, for we are the thing we are, not just our work.

    • harry, you’ve been on my mind. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to apologize for something I didn’t do and couldn’t control, but I am so sorry about what happened to Justine Damond. We’ve lost our collective minds in this country, and seem to have become little more than armed and frightened children. If you pray, please pray for us.

      • I’m sorry that happened too, Tetman. But as you say, we don’t get to scoop people up in our arms and save them from … whatever the hell it is causes all that terrible terribleness. Every time I hear of these things — I don’t hear much, as I keep away from news as much as I can — I think of what you said, the thing about the right to bear arms being, originally, the right to bear a gun of the sort that then existed, one that fires a single projectile then takes quite some time to reload. What a difference that would make, if they set it back to there.

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