Lisa Birnbach, Assassin

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Lisa Birnbach Author of True Prep and The Official Preppy Handbook

The invitation said,

"Archery Tournament. Bring a photo of your most hated enemy.

I will supply bows, arrows, feasting, and vodka (always good when shooting death at speeds up to 320 feet per second)."

It was vintage E. Jean Carroll, she of the hilarious and longest-running advice column, "Ask E. Jean" at Elle Magazine. Hmmm. I looked at the guest list our hostess included in the email, and noted that each and every one was a sharp-witted journalist and author, most of whom had toiled at Esquire in the halcyon days of the new journalism. I had never met most of the guests, but I was honored to be included. I know I'm not the world's best-liked mother-author, but who are my enemies, at least those that I would like to identify in public?

The email stream flowed forth. David Hirshey, the Executive Vice President and Executive Editor of HarperCollins asked if he would get extra credit for bringing his enemies along in person. (Yes.) Another writer boasted of her shooting skills, gleaned at her summer camp experiences of the previous century. I seriously considered bailing. Bob Roe, a former Sports Illustrated editor said he and his wife, writer Nancy Hass, would attend if only to ensure their faces wouldn't be rendered on the targets.

As I read the various comments from the putative guests, I realized I felt the same way. Then my teenaged daughters were invited. Did I want them to see their mother in the petty light of revenge? Did I have the appropriate photos?

Luckily, there was nothing personal in our day of alcohol-fueled faux-violence, unless, unbeknownst to me, our cohort had personal vendettas against Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton, the Pope, Octomom, and/or Dick Cheney. When I made the off-handed and casual comment, "I could shoot myself," little did I know that my adorable, loving little daughter would scamper out of the woods into our hostess' house and print up a picture of her devoted mama, which someone did nick in the breast.

I grazed the Pope's surplice.

I know it's somehow bad karma to wield toy weapons at pictures of real people. But quite quickly it became clear that the kids liked the shooting and the adults preferred the drinking and bitching about the end of print journalism.

And that, I suppose, is why I publish this story here.