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The cover of "Bridge with God" features Fran Mann as the fairy godmother; Joe Godefrin as God, wearing a crown; In-Between Bridge Club Director Michelle Golden, dressed in blue; and Mel Weisel, dressed as the devil.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 4 years ago

God has hand in new bridge book

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

God is a bridge player, according to a new book by Marina Bay resident Fran Mann and her friend, John “Avis” Veltri.

It’s called “Bridge With God,” and it follows God and J.C., short for Jeff Christensen, Sister Mary, who never draws trump, and Brother Bill, who recites smutty limericks, through 54 intermediate to advanced bridge hands.

But “God” isn’t a reference to the man upstairs.

It’s a nickname for Joe Godefrin, a nationally ranked bridge player who died recently.

Veltri played bridge regularly in the Washington, D.C., area but always came in second, hence the nickname “Avis.”

He started winning, however, when he moved to the Sarasota area and began playing with Godefrin, who was often critical of his game.

“The book is about Avis and his relationship with God and their partnership,” Mann said.

Mann, however, got a late start to the game of bridge. She became attached to the game about 10 years ago after retiring from her career as owner of a computer-consulting company and moving to Longboat Key.

“ … Avis provided constant bridge support and encouragement, mostly in the form of high-pitched yelling,” the author biography on the back cover of the book states. “But his technique worked, and her game continued to improve. The ringing in her ears from his yelling, however, has remained constant.”

Veltri originally planned to publish a calendar with 12 bridge hands, along with a story for each month. After working on the concept for four years, he mentioned the idea to Mann one day while playing bridge. She took his ideas home with her and created a 174-page book out of them, including the limericks for Brother Bill.

Veltri, a Catholic, was horrified by the first limerick she proposed:

Since God was away for the day
The monks and the sisters could play.
While bridge was good fun
The devilish nun
Much preferred a quick roll in the hay.

“He was so horrified that it kind of spurred me on to be more and more outrageous,” Mann said.

In the end, they agreed on a disclaimer on the back of the book stating that all innuendos and limericks in the book are Mann’s doing.

Mann’s husband, Mel Weisel, drew the sketches featured throughout the book.

The book was released in January and sold about 100 copies in the first few days.

To promote the book at the In-Between Club in Sarasota, where both Mann and Veltri play, they posted a congratulatory letter addressed To: Fran and Avis, From: God.

It promises special rewards to both because they’re donating all proceeds to charity. God also declares in the letter that the first 100 people to buy the book will get a voucher to heaven.

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