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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« You can't even imagine | Main | What? No. NO. »

This one's for you, Sarah Brown.

It was Miss Sarah Brown who first introduced me (and much of the Internets) to the concept of Bershon. Here she is, describing it with her usual excellence:

"The spirit of bershon is pretty much how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture, and you could not possibly summon one more ounce of disgust, but you’re also way too cool to really even DEAL with it, so you just make this face like you smelled something bad and sort of roll your eyes and seethe in a put-out manner."

When I read this my mind rocketed back to the eighties, when I was so consumed with distaste for everything and everyone I was forced to live with or near that I could not wipe that look off my face, no matter how I tried. I think I even slept with it on. My parents would tiptoe into my room, thinking, sure, she's a raging harpy when she's awake, but maybe we can love her again if we get a glimpse of her angelic sleeping baby cutie face and they'd peer at me in the darkness and run from the room, hissing oh dear God she's still doing it!

Without further ado, if you have the stomach for it: The Bershon Queen of Locust Valley High School.



Ugh, gack, are you, like, taking a picture of me? Can't you see I'm writing? And trying not to notice that I'm at like a picnic or whatever? GOD.

Here I am forced to consume cake:


Fine, cake, sure, but the hat is so super-lame it's not even funny. Am I wearing the same oversized white shirt here? I think I am. God, I'm a dork. And so are all of you. I HATE THIS FAMILY.

The Bershon started young, for me:


Fine, I'm sitting, I got the barrette in my hair. Are you HAPPY? Will you just take the picture, already? I have to go dream of the eighties, when I'll wear oversized white shirts.

Bershon seems to run in the family. Here I am with my sister Liz:


I totally look older and cool like my cool big sister, because I'm making this face. See? I am so freaking sophisticated. But why am I dressed like I'm in Little House on the Prairie?

And my brother James:

Bershon  brother!

"I have no teeth. I can't Bershon it up when I'm lacking teeth."

"God, she's a dork. Why am I sitting on her lap? GOD."

Reader Comments (50)

Oh good. I had asked you for a picture for the interview. Any of these will do nicely, I think.

And you DO NOT sound like an ass.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjon deal
Delicious bershon-ness. My favorite is the party hat/cake eating one. It doesn't get more bershon than that!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSonja
These are perfection. I love the cake/party one, too.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentererika
you are a funny lady....even the bershon pics are funny in their over the top bershoness!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBirchsprite
Hilarious. Great post!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca.
Loooooooooove these. If you had any more black eyeliner on, you wouldn't even be able to open your eyes.

Were you aiming for the Molly-Ringwald-Sixteen-Candles look?

Cuz you succeeded.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterslouching mom
Maybe you just need a little more eyeliner in the picnic one. GOD.

(Then you'd look more like me in 1983.)
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter3 to get ready
My own children are trying the Bershon on me already, this from a seven year old? Looks like you turned out okay so I'm less worried now!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercce
You should wear that hat to Blogher. It's classy.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Good lord - we had the same hair and big baggy white shirt. Did they issue those at the Sourpuss academy?
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermotherbumper
I just looked up Bershon on wikipedia and it doesn't even have a page there yet. I was half tempted to create on in honor, but I don't think I'm cool enough.

Those pictures are fantastic.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSparklieSunShine
Oh, God. My daughter's been doing the Bershon thing since she was 18 months old. I'm in for it, aren't I?
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercandace
Book cover, right there. #2. This is a beautiful day.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Brown
HAAAAAAA! You said "jeezum crow"! I haven't heard that expression since I moved (okay, ran screaming) from Middle-Of-Nowhere, New Hampshire.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKookaloomoo
I've been meditating on the Bershon concept for a little bit and I've hit on why it's not exactly har-har funny to me. (I mean, it IS funny, and I was Bershon before the word existed. I believe it was called 'sullen' back in the 60s/70s.)

Anyway, the reason I can't snicker at Bershon portraits is because I have a teen daughter.

I think that serves as a sufficient explanation.

March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGraceD
You look just like all my friends from the 80s! We were all Bershon. But where's your headband, leg warmers and parachute pants? Or ripped sweatshirt a la Flashdance?
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentereviered
First picture? The female version of the John Cusak character in Sixteen Candles. Totally. Put some underwear on your head and you're good to go.

I totally have a Bershon photo of myself from college, a black ribbon tied around my HEADfergodsake, wearing a black thrift-store 1960's cocktail dress. OMG was I so awesome.

Love the irony of the birthday hat.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkaren
You look just like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles in that second one. I can't believe I'm the first to say that.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Thanks Christ Chimps don't celebrate Christmas, nor wear hideous Christmas sweaters.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLux Lisbon
OMG I haven't laughed that hard at a blog in post in...well...never. And I'm at work and supposed to be nose to the grindstone so I'm swallowing the laughter at my desk with tears rolling out of my eyes.


One thing I've noticed about old family photos (my family and others) is that the unflattering ones are usually edited out (read: thrown out). Leftover are the smile-so-hard-it-hurts-arms-around-your-best -friend kind of pictures. So lame. These are much better.

March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterb
I'm just starting to organize my mother's photo albums and make copies for the siblings. I'll be looking at everything through new eyes....God help us all!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
Bershon. That explains the expression I wear in all my First Communion photos. The ones I charged my parents to take.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLynne
wow, many have been worthy, but you definitely win the crown for most bershon. outstanding.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
Hee hee. Loved it.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
Beautiful. I mean bershon.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

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