Bridge Party

From Autumn Opens a Door, collection published in fall, 2015.

Bridge Party

It’s 1968 and
it’s time for us to host a bridge party
because it’s our family’s turn
in the social calendar, ladies’ section,
the one that is humming along inside every head in town
that’s female and over a certain age.
They know what it says but I don’t. I am too young
and not sorry about it. What it is
It’s the signal for a lot of work
that I know from reading our family’s copy of Emily Post
work that has to be done right or we will be shamed.
We have to get out the card tables cover them
with tablecloths and the dining room table too
Put out dishes from the corner cabinets
which necessitates a lot of useless silver-polishing
done by me and not well enough so for example
I do one platter
three times. Clean up every room especially the bathroom and including my bedroom
that no one will see. Find the coffee urn and fill it up.
We are fortunate to have our own urn our neighbors borrow it
when they have parties
lacking their own and somehow
it gives us status.
We get out the special packs of playing cards
the nice ones
that no one can ever use except for bridge parties and we
keep them in the living room in the desk
that has a dried-paper smell
when you open the lid. On bridge party day
the dog throws up in the living room
right before the party. I am at school so
I don’t see it. I don’t have to see it to know that
the guests come dressed in fancy clothes
their versions of chic
but they are the same ladies we see all the time
around town. Can’t we just say hello then
and be done with the entertaining? I know the answer
so I keep my mouth shut now that the party’s over
and I need to get ready to
wash some dishes.

"Playing Cards at Home on a Snowy Night" - acrylics, 18" x 18", 12/2014.

“Playing Cards at Home on a Snowy Night” – acrylics, 18″ x 18″, 12/2014.

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18 thoughts on “Bridge Party

  1. This reminds me, heavily, of the smell of cards, of the work before the tournament – setting up tables, cleaning chairs, being grateful that two bring their own chairs because there are not enough and they are paraplegics – but most of all of an occasion before another kind of card party. A special someone was attending, and I was desperate for a sign.

    And then the dog barfed.

    • I can’t stop laughing! Sorry! But I have such a mental picture. How often we are given a sign, but it is not fitting into the direction we are hoping to go! I remember these party events of my childhood for the feeling of – we are perfection, teetering on the edge of disaster, and always falling in, to one extent or another. The dog always barfs. It’s just how much and if we can clean it up before the guests arrive!

  2. Your poem sparked several memories from my own childhood. My mother was intense about keeping the house neat as a pin in case of guests, not just for events, so I remember well the frustration of cleaning things repeatedly that no one was actually likely to see let alone study for dust or dirty marks. I also remember that we were only ever allowed to eat chocolate biscuits (cookies) when we had guests over. You have seen my home so know that I entirely rebelled against that way of being.

    • I think keeping your house however it’s done, ought to be for yourself and not “guests”. I am so with you on that. Being uncomfortable in your own home means you have no safe place, to me, in this world.

      • …just stumbled across some books exploring what is called “affect theory” which in part tries to understand that very mysterious, yet powerful dynamic. why this experience clings to the memory, when by normal standards it wasn’t extra-ordinary or excessively traumatic….i could ramble on here so i will stop 😉

      • This sounds interesting to me. Because I have wondered about this very thing, when other more important things are lost to mind, but I’ve got a clear picture of what was maybe just an ordinary day. I think that’s worth understanding, myself.

      • yes…and if we can understand it better, we can appreciate the ordinary, the mundane better, which…and here i go being political (but who doesn’t have politics on their brain right now)…makes us less bedazzled by the spectacular, the cult of personality, the show-biz razzmatazz of Madison Ave…

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