• 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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She Said the Man in the Gabardine Suit Was a Spy


I went to a baseball game yesterday, but all I could focus on was the family in front of me. Mom, dad, two rug rats, and grandparents. At first, they seemed like the “perfect” family apart from the very sad grandpa who either had dementia or profound depression. He stayed in his own world, his mouth in a weak grimace. No one tried to engage him. The kids were kids: obnoxious, petty, cloying, demanding. The parents seemed together enough as a couple until a dispute erupted over sharing Cracker Jacks, and then battle royal: deciding when to leave. The grandma, it is noted, wanted to stay until the seventh inning when they sing God Bless America. Her patriotism was also evident in stars and stripes sweater. She was a “young” grandma, stylish hair cut, earrings, and shimmied her shoulders to the music, enthusiastically threw her arms in the air for the wave. The mom announced she was staying until the end, the dad thought this was a big mistake on account of the traffic. This escalated until no one was speaking, the kids were crying and suddenly all the little details of their life stood out: his apple watch on a leather band, the girl’s slight speech impediment, the mom’s tasteful eye make-up., her Lily Pulitzer belt missing a hoop. Then the boy’s leg got caught in the chair and he cried as if it were being amputated. Reader, the Yankees won. The family left at the top of the eighth inning, which the husband declared in a tone that was half knowing and half disgusted that it was too late.

Do you do this?

13 Responses

  1. Here is your next screenplay. You will definitely win that Oscar, and imagine all those Yankee cameos. I’m not even kidding. You are so freakin talented. I bet you could even play shortstop!

  2. “Do you do this?”

    No. I am too old. When I was young enough, would I? Possibly. Seems a clod of average human behavior.

  3. Hi Betsy,

    I’m Cara, I’m a dev editor, I’ve been following your blog for a few months after being introduced to it by Pat Dobie.

    I do this a lot – especially in restaurants. I try to figure out the dynamics between the staff, some of the lingo, who’s late for the night, etc. I guess I like peeking behind the curtain. It’s also good for keeping my dialogue ear sharp.

    It’s nice to e-meet you!

    All my best, Cara

  4. Probably, and maybe worse depending on who you talk to. Yesterday we had the “big” kids and the “little” kids over for Sunday dinner. I would have loved your observational skills at our dinner, with a playback like this one once it was over.

    Snark, defensiveness, and paranoia ruled the day.

  5. Oh. my. god. That sounds like a special kind of hell and I definitely would have moved.

  6. I do this all the time. Their stories…depending on my mood, lighten or darken my day.

  7. It’s similar to an episode of The Goldbergs, the dad wants to leave a Philly Flyers game before it ends because of traffic. They do and they miss a once in a lifetime goal shot.

  8. Sounds like my family

  9. Yes, as an assignment by a writing coach years ago. ‘Go to any public place and people watch…’
    Of course I chose a bar… often.
    The people were different each time, but the stories all had the same ring to them. Sex, booze, and sadness.
    Except for one table (4 guys, 3 gals, all in NG fatigues) celebrating the evening before shipping out to some war.
    I was about to buy them a round, but another gent beat me to it.

  10. Yes. And your account of the family dynamics was concise and beautifully written — a vivid and interesting slice of apple pie set against the backdrop of an American pastime. There’s a lot in that paragraph! And the Yankees won; two gifts in one day.

  11. Every chance I get. It’s endlessly fascinating!

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