Everyone Needs an Algonquin

17 May

When I was breakfast editor for Rupert Stanley Quim’s magazine Specific Monthly, I often found myself eating lunch at the famous (or infamous) Cafe Grandmother. It was not unusual for the likes of detective writer Derek Pinpoint, novelist Ginger Readers and her cronies and other notable writers to join me. I recall us gossiping, eating blueberry pancakes or BLT sandwiches and generally just having a smashing time. Reminiscing about these years brings to mind another group of quick wits who gathered at a round table, throwing their coins down, telling secrets, cracking jokes and sleeping with each others’ mates. I am thinking, of course, of my mother’s bridge group in Trenton, New Jersey.

These ladies would get together each Tuesday afternoon, most often at our house since we seemed to have, based on the women’s weekly comments, the nicest drapes. In retrospect I suppose it was our ever full liquor cabinet that really drew them in, but I wouldn’t want to hurt my mother’s feelings. If she had them. But I remember as a youngster sitting at the top of the stairs, peering down at the lacquered hairstyles, the crossed legs and the cigarettes burning down to ash. I can hear now in my mind’s eye the laughing which grew in both intensity and decibels as the day wore on (and the liquor bottles drained). I remember hearing the voices, hushed but excited, sharing secrets and insults (the words “embezzling” and “stupid bastard,” to this day, take me back to those innocent afternoons) and I so wanted to grow up to be one of those ladies. (I had hoped by the time I was old enough to lacquer my hair, another one of the ladies would have bought nicer drapes so we could meet elsewhere, thereby excluding my mother.) But unfortunately I found that, as I grew older, this sort of bonding had become a thing of the past. If I had not been blessed with such talent as a writer, I may never have even experienced those few years eating with Derek, Ginger and friends. The days of intimates getting together to enjoy the misery of others just simply don’t exist in our work-a-day world.

Which leads me to my point that young people today just seem too isolated. My advice to them, and to you, reader, if you find yourself lonely or disconnected, is to get married. Too many young people stay single, “trying to find themselves.” That’s not what life is about. Life is about alcoholic laughs and betrayal and embezzlement. The burdens of a spouse lead directly to that kind of happiness. Just ask my mother or her friend, Shirley. They’re both listed, but don’t bother calling on a Tuesday afternoon. Or just call my parents’ house then, but hang up when she answers. That really gets her goat.

Best of luck, little ones!

One Response to “Everyone Needs an Algonquin”


  1. The Anniversary « Everyone Needs an Algonquin - Friday, 21 May 2010

    […] a testimony to the good one woman and the Internet can do, as it marks the one year anniversary of Everyone Needs an Algonquin. I was going to do a rather extensive retrospective on Tuesday, but then I remembered that I had a […]

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