“Crazy, Stupid, Love meets Notting Hill. About an actress making it big and the complicated relationship she has with the guy she met as a teenager. You’ll read it in two days” —The Skimm
Their meeting in a parking lot outside a high school football game was both completely forgettable and utterly life-changing. Because no matter how you look at it, it is piss-poor luck to meet the love of your life before your life has even started. Fierce and ambitious, Alison transforms into a rising TV star in New York City while her first love, Kyle, all heart and spiritual yearning, becomes a pediatrician in suburban Cincinnati, married to the wrong woman. What could these mismatched souls have to do with each other? Everything and nothing. Even as their fates rocket them forward and apart, neither can fully let go of the past.
As their lives inevitably intersect, Alison and Kyle must face each other in the revealing light of their decisions. I’m Glad About You is a glittering study of how far the compromises two people make will take them from the lives they were meant to live.
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In 2011 Theresa Rebeck was named one of the 150 Fearless Women in the World by Newsweek. She has had more than a dozen plays produced in New York, including Omnium Gatherum (cowriter), for which she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and The New York Times has referred to her as “one of her generation’s major talents.” Rebeck was the creator of the NBC drama Smash and has a long history of producing and writing for major television and film successes. She is the author of Three Girls and Their Brother (2008) and Twelve Rooms with a View (2010). She has taught at Brandeis University and Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her family.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"BUT WHAT IS a demimonde, anyway?" said Alison.
The guy she was talking to, someone named Seth, smiled like he knew the secret answer to that. He wrote a column about celebrity bed side reading for Vanity Fair and his name had shown up once even as a byline on a feature for that esteemed publication. Alison did not fully realize the import of this accomplishment but he did.
"The demimonde, actually," he told her. "There's only one of them, grammatically speaking."
"What?" said Alison, confused.
"The demimonde. It's called the demimonde. Not like a demimonde, not a demimonde like there's a lot of demimondes and this might be one of them. There's only one to begin with, so it's the."
"Is there only one of them if you're speaking any other way?" Alison asked.
''Apparently not; it's all the same demimonde, no matter where you find it," he noted, pleased with the inane complication that had grown like a
"That you didn't know."
"That I didn't know that people call it the demimonde?" she asked. "I just mean, you don't have to be embarrassed," he said.
"I'm not," she replied, unembarrassed. The pleasure he had been tak ing in the grammatical discussion was fleeing quickly, and in fact it was occurring to him that the young woman was not quite as attractive as she had seemed mere moments before. She smiled at him with that sort of absurd warmth that transplanted Midwesterners tossed about New York like an unappreciated breeze. Because of that Vanity Fair byline, in addition to his rangy height, he was used to having a different effect on the women upon whom he bestowed his attention in social situations. Usually they sparkled more, with a charming willingness to acknowledge the sexual undertones of any discussion and the innate superiority of his position in the demimonde. He had often mocked them, frankly, to his male comrades, for that very thing-their eagerness to attract was, finally, a bit of a bore, he thought. But this girl, who was clearly some sort of nobody, didn't get any points for avoiding all that. She was unsettling. Attractive, but not attractive enough to get over that bump of her own sense of equality.
"Should I be embarrassed?" she asked.She sipped one of those relent less glasses of white wine and grinned slightly while tilting her head, so that she had to glance up at him under long dark bangs. Her eyes were a startling green and they looked like they were laughing at him, but not unpleasantly. This was actually better flirting than he'd had in months. Why didn't he like it more?
"No, no," he said, but a whisper of polite dismissal had snuck into his tone. It smacked her enough for a crinkle of worry to appear between her eyes, and he felt bad. He felt badJ This girl was really no fun at all.
"Oh, well. Oh. Okay," she said, recovering from the startling appearance of male aggression over what to her, frankly, seemed like a nearly nonsensical discussion. Her friend Lisa had invited her over just a few hours ago for drinks in her loft, which wasn't actually a loft; it was more like sixteen square feet and a skylight. And now a total stranger was clearly miffed with her because of some weird obsession he had with the demimonde, and whether or not it was "a" demimonde or "the" demi monde. This isn't eighteenth-century France, she thought.Who gives a shit? "Well," she laughed, opting for good humor, "I did know generally more or less about the demimonde. I was an English major in college and we tossed the whole thing about during one endless class on Trollope and I finally figured it out, that there really is only one in general, that it's a general sort of thing. But it's not a bad question, 'the' versus 'a.' I just never quite put it all together so specifically. Until tonight] Thank you so much for clearing that up."
This was, of course, both completely true and utterly sardonic, but the wry amusement of her tone didn't win her any points. These seem ingly simple situations were frankly problematic for Alison, whose untamed heart and effortless intelligence combined to create an unfortu nately toxic cocktail for a certain breed of male ego. An ex-friend of her ex-boyfriend Kyle once told her that he got sick of how she had to show off how smart she was all the time. It was an irrational misreading of her character-Alison wasn't particularly interested in showing off; she just was not a fool and felt no need to pretend to be one, under any circum stances or for any reason. Unfortunately, her ex-boyfriend's ex-friend was not the only male creature who had ever mistaken this trait for some thing less defined and more blameworthy.
"Where was that?" Seth the OCD word fanatic asked.
"Where was what?" Alison asked, confused again. "Where'd you do your undergrad?"
"Undergrad?" she repeated. "Oh, I went to Notre Dame."
As soon as she had admitted this, she wished she hadn't. Having arrived in New York only five months before, she was already acquainted with the eagerness with which those interminable Ivy Leaguers pried into the facts around your college education just so they had an excuse to bludgeon you with their own. And she had stepped into his trap!"Let me guess. You went to Harvard," she said, beating him to the punch line. She tilted her chin at him, aiming for charming defiance.
"Well, yes, actually," Seth admitted with a nod. Unfortunately, the charming defiance didn't manage to outshine the leaden fact of Notre Dame. He glanced over her shoulder, to see if anyone more worthy of his attention had drifted into view behind her. She hated New York at times like this, so full of intellectual phonies desperate to take any opportunity to assert their superiority in ways that, honestly, would have been con sidered just rude in the Midwest. "Guess they weren't supposed to let girls from Ohio into this particular corner of the demimonde," she told him tartly. ''A Harvard boy who writes for Vanity Fair, how on earth did you get stuck talking to a loser like me?"
"Just lucky, I guess." He shrugged, playing the double negative now.
''And what do you do, Alison?"
She looked him straight in the face. "I'm, actually, I'm an actress." She tried to keep her confidence up but she knew how idiotic this would sound to him, or anyone, in point of fact.
"So how is that going for you?" he asked, with deliberate disinterest. Too bad, she thought.I thought he was kind of cute. He was already some one she had known in the past. "I'm going to get another glass of wine," she told him.
"Terrific," he noted flatly. It was so dismissive she blinked a little, and took a step back. He had turned away, and was saying hello to some other loser friend of Lisa's, a girl with an eager smile and enormous breasts. Alison felt her heart constrict with a tinge of fear and disappointment.Whatever, he's a creep, she told herself. Then she pushed through the bitter little crowd of young professionals who had gathered for a fun evening in Lisa's ugly and overpriced apartment, trying to get to that table in the corner where people had dumped the wine bottles they'd delivered as party gifts.
"You met Seth!" Lisa exclaimed, sticking her head out of the closet sized kitchen and raising her eyebrows with smug, conspiratorial glee. "He's so fabulous. Really it is ridiculous how successful he is, he has his own column for Vanity Fair and he's had pieces everywhere, I think he's doing something for Vogue right now. Maybe GQ. Or that piece maybe already came out, I can't remember. He's very prolific and he knows a ton of people plus I think he's really hot, he's so tall. His family has buckets of money, his father is something huge at Goldman Sachs and you should see where he lives in Tribeca."
"Goldman Sachs is like the institutional version of the anti-Christ, Lisa," Alison reported with an air of sincere regret that this fact had somehow escaped her friend's notice.
"I'd put up with people calling me the anti-Christ if I had money like that," Lisa tossed back at her.
"Yeah, well, I think your friend mostly wanted to get laid, so it's fine.
I'm from the Midwest, we don't do that on a first date," Alison reported. "Plus he's an asshole."
"No, he's great!" Lisa insisted, pretending that Alison's position on sex with strangers was so outdated and ludicrous she didn't even have to acknowledge it. "He's juggling a lot of different commitments, magazine people have to have so many things going on that sometimes it takes them a little time to unwind and just be themselves. Plus he told me he just got here from a big meeting with the Times Sunday magazine, which he's been really worried about ... So he's probably still just thinking about that; he's under a lot of pressure because so much is happening for him right now. And tomorrow he's running out to the Hamptons, his parents have a place in Amagansett and there's some big family party he has to go to."
Alison could not for the life of her understand why going to a party in the Hamptons tomorrow might be considered an excuse for lousy behavior today, and she sincerely wished that she might be asked to care more about the young man's character than his resume. But Lisa's atten tion had moved on to other subjects. Alison watched as her friend found herself caught in a web of arms and hands reaching desperately for the half-empty bottles of cheap wine, which cluttered the table behind her. Lisa was an elegant, slender blonde who moved with an amused grace through the center of it all. The apparently ravenous young professionals who surrounded her were consuming a simple tray of grapes and cheeses in mere seconds in a piranha-like frenzy. Blonde Lisa laughed with delight and threw her hands up in a gesture of mock despair. "I never get enough food," she admitted happily.
In the Midwest, there's always enough food, Alison thought. She thought of her mother's housewarming parties, where neighbors who had known one another for thirty years would gather on the back porch and talk about golf scores and school functions and the weather. Her mother would serve hot hors d'oeuvres, sesame chicken with a honey-mayonnaise dressing, toasted cheese rounds, and everyone's favorite, sausage balls, a spectacular concoction made of grated cheddar, Jimmy Dean sausage, and Bisquick all mashed together and cooked in the broiler. Then Mom would load the dining room table with platters heaped with sliced ham and turkey and roast beef, alongside a breadbasket filled with miniature sandwich rolls, around which she had curled lovely little dishes of ketchup and mustard and even more mayonnaise. And down there at the far end of the table, a big bowl of salad for anyone who was maybe thinking of trying to eat healthy. After everyone had gorged themselves on sandwiches and finger food and a few bites of salad, there would be plates of cookies and brownies and, if Aunt Sis was coming, a chocolate sheet cake, or an extra plate of those crazy peanut butter cookies with an entire Hershey's Kiss shoved into the middle of each.
Beside the memory of this plenty, the one platter of Brie, Swiss, crackers, and seedless grapes that Lisa had bought at a deli two blocks away looked exactly like what it was-lame. It was already finished off a mere thirty-five minutes after the first guests had arrived; the piranhas had swept it clean and moved on to the consumption of more wine and booze, of which there was a river.
Lisa picked up the empty platter and held it over her head. "Go back and talk to Seth,'' she ordered Alison.
"We didn't like each other, Lisa,"Alison said clearly, hoping this would put an end to the discussion.
"You talked to him for three minutes! You have to try harder, I mean it. I've been in New York a lot longer than you and I know what's out there. Trust me. He's the only guy in the room smarter than you." Hav ing delivered this pronouncement with definitive finality, she sailed off into her minuscule kitchen.
He's not smarter than me, Alison said to herself. Which, she admitted in her proud and lonely heart, was the problem.
"No, HE DOESN 'T have a temperature but he's been extremely fussy for five days, it's been five days and his nose is running nonstop," the deter mined woman announced. She clutched a miserable two-year-old on her knee and talked over the kid's head impatiently, like he was some kind of unmanageable ventriloquist's dummy, although he was really quite patient, Kyle noticed. Not listless, just tired. Slightly heightened color in the cheeks but no tears or frustration, no fussiness whatsoever. "I saw Dr. Grisholm last week and he said that it was a virus and there's nothing anyone can do for a virus but this has been going on much too long and he needs an antibiotic. I don't know why you people can't just prescribe that stuff over the phone, it's not going to hurt anybody and we need it and I'll tell you I know you make us come down here to pick up the prescription just so you can charge us for the office visit and it's ridicu lous, the way you are gouging us when all we need is an antibiotic! He's sick! He's really sick! And I'm tired of all this messing around ...
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