• 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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Picture Yourself On a Boat On a River


a00e54fe4158b883301157158c128970c-800wiWhen I was a senior in high school, I won a poetry prize of $100. I went to the local bookstore and bought as many poetry books as I could, most just because of how they looked. One of those was Houseboat Days by John Asbbery. I had never heard of him, but I like the woman with the impassive face, elegant dress and oar in her hands. And then I fell in love with the poems. When I was a freshman at NYU, I saw that Ashbery was reading at Books & Co. I had never been above 14th Street on my own, but I braved the subway to the upper east side. The store was packed. Everyone looked impossibly sophisticated. I managed to get inside, but I couldn’t see or hear a thing. It was the best time I ever had.


8 Responses

  1. When New York is good, she’s very good.

  2. Like going to a rock concert back in the day. I remember being jammed in tight against people I didn’t know, the acrid odor of pot, songs from the albums I’d listened to time and again, such that I could sing every song word for word. But I couldn’t see a thing. Or if I could, they were so tiny, they looked like dolls. It didn’t matter. Look! It’s Frampton! It’s Elton John! It’s…

    The glory days.

  3. Ah, to be young in NY.
    When I was 17, my best friend & I used to cut class and sneak into the city on the train. We had little money so we’d head downtown to hang around, smoke whatever and drink coffee. We thought we were way to cool for school, but the predators sniffed us out and we almost got accosted en route back to Grand Central. None of that mattered though cuz we were living the dream. Just two clueless kids having fun.

  4. Wow, you guys.

  5. Reminds me of how I won a book about Degas for having the best accent in French. (I treasured that book even though the kids laughed at me for having that accent!) Reminds me of how I wrote reams of poems in high school lovingly typed on Eatons’ watermarked, and how they are long gone. Sometimes I try to remember them.

    In college I bought a book edited by John Hollander, Poems of our Moment (because I loved the cover), with Ashbery and poets of that era, which of course, I will never part with.

  6. I heard John Ashbery read in an elementary school auditorium in Massachusetts. I am not a New York poet, but a former Southern poet. I once was working at the bookstore when Charles Wright read. We couldn’t hear him. Finally I realized that the speakers were turned in the wrong direction. I was very shy in those days and blushed to high heaven as I sneaked behind him to turn the speakers the right way round.

  7. Recently enjoyed a similar experience: a well-connected journalist invited me to be his “date” at an A-list b-day party for a billionaire. I was, truly, Cinderella among all the celebrities and 1-percenters. In my home-made dress and vintage shop necklace I felt less conspicuous along the perimeter of the marble-columned event space; the people-watching, from that vantage point, was first rate. My friend, however, navigated the room with ease, often introducing me to people I’ve only seen on television. My favorite overheard conversation (a woman replying to a compliment on her gi-normous earrings) “Oh, thank you. I bought them at a tag sale at Bulgari’s.” Three weeks later, and those memories still make me laugh with delight.

  8. Wow, I won a poetry writing competetion held in my college last year, and thats from when I started taking poetry seriously!

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