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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 did a talk at a Bridge Club today. During the break,  a woman approached me when I went to get a cup of soda. She said, and I quote, “I could have written your book.” Of course, she meant that she related to it, but she kept saying that phrase, “I could have written your book.”

What should I have said?

29 Responses

  1. More importantly, what did you say?

  2. She should have said. “I love the fact that you wrote the book so well that it felt as if you were reading my mind and you even read it better than I ever could.”

    That’s what I think she should’ve said.

    But it was still a compliment because it shows that she really does wish she had written the book, which is a high compliment.

  3. Even if you did respond to her comment, I am sure she was in her “bliss moment” thinking how she could have written your book. 🙂 Not listening to a word you were saying. A flood of memories re-hashing with a glazed over look.

  4. You might have said, “maybe you could have, but I did”. However, under the circumstances it would probably be better to say, ” I knew that many people would be able to relate to this story, that’s why I was compelled to tell it.”
    How did you reply?

  5. “Thank you. I’m so happy you enjoyed reading it.”

    Because really, anything else is probably a waste of effort…

  6. What an awkward yet interesting situation! It’s hard since she definitely meant she related to your work (nice!). A lot of what could be said comes off pretty rude and is not worth the stress for sure. Tempting to say “thank-you” and leave it at that.

    Personally, my defense in general to awkward moments is humor, so I might say something like “please don’t sue me!” or “are we life twins”?

  7. Well, I wrote it first, neener, neener, neener.

  8. “I’m glad you found a connection with it.”

  9. “Borges wrote a story about an academic who tried to so completely immerse himself in the life and times of Cervantes that he could rewrite Don Quixote.”

  10. egocentricity is the filter in which she views the world, otherwise she would have said how much she loved your book, or how eerily similar her experiences were to yours. what’s that famous quote from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? “Well you didn’t Blanche, you didn’t!!”

  11. She had a story she wanted to tell and was urgent to tell it. I don’t know what you should have said. If I had been in your place, I might have said, “You could? How is that? Tell me about it.” She then would have told me as much of her story as she needed to while I would most likely have been looking for the first opportune moment to make a graceful exit.

  12. The lump of coal; the time and exertion and effort it takes to make it into a diamond . . . I get it!

    When I am confused or confronted and likely to say something kind or understanding to smooth things over in an awkward situation with some asshole, I just say as passive aggressively as possible, “Excuse me?” And then wait. It takes training and practice, but eventually you get the hang of making people explain themselves, or just feel bad about opening their mouths in the first place.

  13. Being basically non-confrontational, overly polite, or just plain sheepish (take your pick), I probably would have smiled and said nothing, or simply “Oh, thank you.”

    But I would have thought: You numbskull, you have no idea how much energy, sweat, nail biting, hair twirling, late night eating, angst, time, self-doubt, blood, bile, dedication, stick-to-it ness, and WORK WORK WORK went into this. Sure, go for it.

  14. Include my vote in the Smile Slightly/Encourage Her to Pen Her Own Story ballot box. It’s the only polite option to maintain sanity. Unfortunately, this type of comment is only too common when The Arts are concerned. Ask any artist at a gallery showing; follow a suspect group through a sculpture garden; watch for the person who brings their own 1200+ page manuscript to a book signing – it must be an occupational hazard from being brave enough to publicly follow one’s Muse.

  15. It’s awkward and sort of ambiguous, but sounds like it was meant as a compliment. And you could ask if her sense of humor would allow her to come up with a wonderful description like the one about a large necklace hanging like testicles around a Bridge players’ neck. THAT might get some kind of reaction…

  16. Something positive to let her know that how your glad your book was also her story.

  17. As a translator, I get something similar quite often. I usually smile and say, of course. Mais oui. It reminds me of the next part of the conversation that usually refers to google translate.

  18. Oh, I don’t know. I think I think I would have shrugged, suggest she write her own book and let it go.
    I think these were just some empty words thrown out there as chitchat. She also might have been nervous at meeting you, Betsy. It happens.

  19. “I’m so glad you read it and you resonated so closely with my experiences.”

  20. You tell her, ok then go ahead, write it. Then see if she says it again.

  21. Thank you. You should write my book. Let me know when you finish the fucker.

  22. You should have and then we could compare.

  23. What I would have wanted to say: But you didn’t
    What I probably would have said: Hm. Is the club soda any good here?

  24. You should’ve said what I say to my toddler when she says “mine” about everything. “Oh you WANTED to write my book?”
    Then, WASPY, “I guess you’ll have to write something else.”

  25. Maybe the book resonated with her. Maybe she knows a few frumpy, psychologically challenged writers.

  26. “Life of Pi” was the book I was shooting for myself. Alas, too slow and so I had to come up with this one.

  27. I only see this as a compliment and would say, “I’m thrilled that my story could connect to you in such a profound way!”

  28. “Yes, but you didn’t.”

  29. you should have said I can’t write the book you would write, and you can’t write the book I can write. We see the world differently. It’s up to each one of us to develop the skills to write the best book we can.

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