• 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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I’d Give Anything to See You Again

Some years ago, I went to a magic show at the Century Club. I have a phobia where audience participation is concerned, so magic shows are daunting as audience members are often asked to participate. To make matters more uncomfortable, we arrived late and had to sit in the front row. Everything was going well,  when the magician asked us to think of someone we had lost. I knew right away that it was a friend with whom I’d had a platonic love affair. I don’t know if the magician could see it on my face, but he called on me to come to the stage. Then he asked me to take the cover off of a box. Inside was an antique wooden box with a small drawer. He asked me open it. Inside was piece of paper with the name of my friend. The magician asked me say the name out loud, but I couldn’t summon the voice. I believed my friend was going to appear even knowing that I had destroyed what we had through abject selfishness. Did the curtain rustle just then? Did the temperature in the room drop? I would give anything to see you again.

Who did you love and lose?

9 Responses

  1. I’ve lost a girlfriend or two over absurd skirmishes. I’ve lost my first bud-love, at 14, festooned with summer waves and beach dunes. i’ve lost a bad-boy-crazy-in-love stint at 22, (and, once upon a time, a more mature guy that got away.) But mostly, I’ve lost my youth-self with her joyful belief in possibilities, her unfettered capacity to emote, her fervor, her bliss, her angst.

  2. Before answering that question – how does THAT even happen? Honest to Godiva – the name of your friend was in that box??? I wouldn’t have been able to speak either. Floored.

    Who did you love and lose?

    So many – but most recently, my mother.

    It’s coming up on 9 months, and I’ll be going along just fine, and out of nowhere, BAM. I opened a drawer in the upstairs bathroom where I keep TP, trash bags, etc. I have some powder puffs of hers tucked away there. They’re in this little cotton bag – I mean, who uses powder puffs anymore? But I kept them because they smell like her. I picked up the bag and sniffed it. Everything that was her was packed like a punch in the scent of Wind Song.

  3. “Who did you love and lose?”
    A baby who never got to take a breath.
    The pain is decades old and still raw.

  4. Perhaps it is an unexpected result of these stay at home mandates, but my thoughts are constantly drifting towards my long list of losses: failed relationships, miscarriages, my beloved Bad Dog, friends who died at the hands of a drunk driver, my most adored grandparents and all my regrettable comments/clueless perspectives which feed my inner voice of loathing.

  5. “Who did you love and lose?”

    My first lover.

    Our daughter.

    My best friend from youth.

    My first wife.

    If we live long enough, we lose everyone, until all we have left is everyone we have lost.

  6. Damn, where is The Century Club? Is it located between Quantum Leap Street and Realms of the Unknown?

    Sometimes I miss an old lover who was particularly fond of frequency and locations. We made love in cars, the outdoors, in various locations around the house and once got caught in the act on the floor of her sisters’ apartment (her sister actually apologized for walking in on us). Alas, my girlfriend was also an alcoholic, determined to live a life to rival Henry Chinaski’s. And she wanted a commitment at a time when I was not ready to give one; while I went on a carefree vacation to Mexico, she went to rehab. On more than one occasion she correctly called me an asshole. She no longer talks to me, but I think of her often when I pass by certain houses in town, wince at the memory of the effect the rough bark of one particular maple tree had on my naked back, or sit down at one end of the kitchen table….

  7. Ah, yes. The platonic love affair, that fair-weather foe to many a good friendship. I’ve partaken in many during my lifetime but thankfully, they’re all behind me, where I believe they’ll stay. The stronger ones have been restored to a natural balance of give and take, and only one of them suffered the irredeemable fate that is generally allotted to one-way lust— which might cause a person to wonder: how good was the union, if unrequited passion was enough to tear the whole thing down? I would believe that to be a rhetorical question, if I didn’t know better, if I didn’t know that an idol who has been propped up to dizzying heights has nowhere to go but down, and if I didn’t also know that a flower which has been watered too much will only grow rot in her roots. The temperature in the room might have dropped but more likely, the air was sucked out altogether.

    Seriously, though: how DID the magician know your friend’s name?

  8. Betsy, you have to swear to me that this really happened.

  9. Makes my heart hurt just to think about this one. But Betsy, I think there’s a story…novel…screenplay there.

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