Chick Wit: Getting over water via troubled bridges

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Author Lisa Scottoline (APRIL NARBY)

I just got back from a book tour with Daughter Francesca, which was wonderful except for one thing:

Bridges.

As in, I'm newly scared of driving over them.

Please tell me I'm not alone.

Our book is titled Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?, so our publisher scheduled us for a book tour of bookstores in beach resorts, and I'm not complaining. But I knew I was in trouble on day one, as I drove toward Rehoboth, encountering my first bridge. It rose ahead of me like a concrete tsunami, and all of a sudden, I felt weak in the knees.

And not good weak-in-the-knees, like Bradley Cooper weak-in-the-knees.

More like squeeze your sphincter weak-in-the-knees.

In other words, the wrong kind of puckering up.

The bridge was the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridge, and even though it was new, it looked unfinished. It didn't have a top or any structure to hold it up, but only weird spikes that rose in the center, attached to things that looked like strings.

I own bras with more support.

The other problem was that the bridge didn't have any sides. As we got closer, I imagined sliding right off into the water, which I admit might have been irrational, or a big tractor-trailer behind me pushing me off, which seemed completely likely.

Francesca looked over, worried. "Mom, are you OK?"

"Of course I'm OK," I lied, because I'm a good mother.

A good mother doesn't communicate her irrational fears to her child.

A good mother lets her child develop her own irrational fears.

But as we drove onto the bridge, the more nervous I got, and Francesca could tell. "Mom, why are your knees shaking? Are you thinking about Bradley Cooper again?"

So I confessed that I was afraid of the bridge, and being the great daughter that she is, she didn't tease me, but turned into my cheerleader/therapist.

"Mom, just keep your foot on the gas and follow the car ahead of you, and we'll be fine."

We got over the bridge without lethal event, but my heart was thumping. I cursed the bridge, its architects, and my hormones in general, because I remember reading somewhere that fear of bridges can be correlated to estrogen levels.

Unfortunately, I'm fresh out.

The only liquid I have in great supply is Diet Coke.

Our book tour took us to independent bookstores in Avalon, Westhampton, Mystic, and Westerly, R.I., which meant we crossed about 3,000 bridges - or maybe it just felt that way. I was a wreck, and Francesca took over the driving, which only made me more nervous.

What mother isn't nervous when her kid drives?

I braced myself in the passenger seat, and Francesca said I looked like a starfish.

Plus, I still had to close my eyes when we went over the bridge, whether I was driving or not, and by the end of book tour, I had become a full-fledged Nervous Driver. All around me, traffic moved way too fast. Speed limits have increased from 55 to 65, which means that everybody goes 70 to 75.

Cars changed lanes willy-nilly, passed on the right, and even drove on the shoulder.

I-95 isn't a highway, it's a video game.

And next week, Francesca and I have a wedding in Newport, a route that goes over the Claiborne Pell Bridge.

Which is the longest suspension bridge in New England.

This starfish is flying.


Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's new humor collection, "Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?" in stores now. Also, look for Lisa Scottoline's newest novel, "Every 15 Minutes," in stores.

Lisa@scottoline.com