Authors: Lauren Weisberger
“Oh, well, we sure wouldn't want that,” Emily said. “I mean, not with how gorgeously everything seems to be going right now.”
This time Karolina burst out laughing. She was crazy and emotional, and her life was spiraling completely out of control, but damn, it felt nice just to laugh. “Bring on the Samoas. This girl is ready to
mily! Half-caf skinny latte for Emily!” The Starbucks barista had a ring through the cartilage of her left ear and a line of small silver cuffs all the way up her right one. Emily wanted to hug her for merely existing in Greenwich without either a blond bob or a pair of Sorel Joan of Arctic boots.
“Thanks,” Emily said, grabbing the cup and beelining back to her corner seat before one of the women trolling for tables snagged her spot.
She sipped her coffee and tore herself away from a photo of Olivia and Rizzo lunching at a brasserie in the East Village, instead scrolling through a list of designers to approach last-minute for Kim Kelly. Kim Kelly, the actress made famous by risquÃ© roles (read: willingness to take her clothes off anytime), was having a dress crisis. Kim was Emily's first client after
and remained, to this day, her craziest. The
SAG Awards were less than two weeks away, and according to Kim, the Proenza Schouler Emily had commissioned for her was a “total fucking nightmare.” Nearly ten years of dressing the woman had taught her to expect this behavior at least fifty percent of the timeâbut she was annoyed by the total about-face. Kim had loved the dress at her first fitting a few weeks earlier, twirling in front of the three-way mirror, giggling to herself. The shoes were Chanel, the jewelry Harry Winston, and the only thing left to source was the perfect beaded clutchâhardly a difficult task. Emily's phone buzzed with yet another hysterical text from Kim.
Will you look at this? Total fucking nightmare
, Kim had written.
Emily squinted at the iPhone picture of Kim looking exactly the same in the dress as she had two weeks earlier: gorgeous.
Nightmare? WTF? You look like a Disney princess, only hotter
I look like a wildebeest. You know it, I know it, and soon everyone who watches E will know it!
Stop! This is Proenza we are talking about. They don't do wildebeests.
Well then they fucked up this time b/c I am huge. I can't wear this. I won't.
Okay, I hear you
, Emily typed, although apparently she said this out loud, because one of the women sitting next to her turned and said, “Excuse me?”
Emily looked up. “What? Oh, sorry, not you. I'm not hearing you.”
The woman turned back to her friend, only now Emily couldn't help listening. She sneaked sideways glances as both women pulled out their phones and opened their calendar apps.
“So, yeah, it would be great to get them together. I can't believe it took until first grade to get them in the same class! Elodie can do Wednesdays. Does that work?”
“No, Wednesdays aren't great. India has fencing. How are Mondays?”
“Mmm, Mondays are tough. I have to drop my older two at swim, get back to the school to pick Elodie up from violin, and then take all
three of them to this healthy-cooking class they're taking together. What about next week?”
The woman shook her head. “We're in Deer Valley next week. I know, I know, I shouldn't be pulling them all out of school right after Christmas break, but Silas is insistent. I was, like, âBut, honey, we're going to Vail over Presidents' Week. Can't we go somewhere
Her friend nodded. “I hear you. Patrick is the exact same way. I had to fight tooth and nail for Turks in February. The only place he wanted to go was Tahoe. I was like, âEnough Tahoe! You are not eighteen anymore. It can't just be all about your boarding! The kids
to swim outside at some point this winter.'â”
The ping of an incoming email was the only thing that dragged Emily back to reality. She clicked open the email from Kim Kelly and began to read.
I tried again, exactly like you said, and I CANNOT work with her anymore. I love Emily, you know that. She's done great things for me over the last decade, but she's lost her edge. I don't know how anyone with eyes could think I look good in this total fucking nightmare of a dress. And now she says I have to find something RTW because there's not enough time?????? RTW to the SAG Awards, are you fucking kidding me? I've been hearing great things about Olivia Belle. Can you get in touch with her and see what her availability is for the next 24 hours? And please write to Emily and let her down easy. I like her, I really do, but it's time for me to move on. Fire her nicely, please. Xx KK
Without even realizing it, Emily was blinking at the screen and then rubbing her eyes. Camilla was Kim Kelly's manager, and it couldn't be more obvious what had just happened. It took only a split second to decide whether she should wait for Camilla's email or write directly toÂ Kim.
While it's obvious you didn't have the nerve to fire me yourself, I don't happen to suffer from the same condition. So I will gladly tell you straight to your face that the problem isn't the dress or the designer or me. It's you. Namely, your raging eating disorder that allows you to think that at 104 pounds and a size two, you look like a wildebeest. I hope you get help before it's too late. I'm sure Olivia Belle will be the *perfect* fit for you.
She punched “send” without rereading it.
, she thought. But then the deflation. The dread. Another client lost to Olivia Belle. Another humiliating and high-profile firing. Another step closer to having to shutter her business altogether. She fired off a quick, slightly panicked email to Miles, giving him the update, but she had no idea what time it was in Hong Kong.
Next to her, the women had given up on trying to schedule a playdate. They had somehow segued into an uninhibited conversation about vodka-soaked tampons.
“I mean, I've, like, read that the college girls all love it. But I can't bring myself to actually do it,” the mom of Elodie said. She had on workout wear, head to toe: running shoes, yoga pants, a performance fleece, and a reflective headband, topped off with a down vest.
Her friend wore a variation of the exact same outfit, only she had swapped out the headband for a knit hat with a massive fur ball on top. This womanâIndia's mommyâleaned in and said, “Oh, it's amazing. OBs definitely work best because of the no applicator. All of the buzz, none of the calories!”
“Wow,” the headband mom said reverently. “That sounds amazing. Have you ever tried tequila? I'm not a huge vodka fan.”
“But that's the best part!” crowed the fur ball. “It doesn't matter what you useâyou can't even taste it!
And I haven't noticed that any one type is easier on my vag than any other, soÂ .Â .Â . as long as it's not flavored, I think you can use whatever you have lying around.”
“I'm trying it. This weekend. Waitâdoes that mean you would pass a Breathalyzer? Like, if no alcohol goes into your actual mouth, you should be fine, right?”
Emily was about to respondâthey were raging idiots to think that alcohol absorbed through their vaginas instead of their stomachs didn't have the same effect on their blood alcohol levelâbut she stopped herself. After ten days in Greenwich, Emily had seen the same faces over and over again. Telling people off in her favorite Starbucks was probably not the best way to go.
She glanced around. It was as though someone released a man-repelling chemical weapon at seven a.m. each weekday and didn't turn off the spigot for a full twelve hours. The only men able to survive it were the ones older than eighty or too rich to even pretend to work anymore, but they didn't spend their time in Starbucks. It was women as far as the eye could see. Women in their thirties, pushing strollers and chasing toddlers; in their forties, eking out every second before school let out at three; in their fifties, meeting for a cappuccino and a chat; in their sixties, accompanying their daughters and grandchildren. Nannies. Babysitters. The odd twentysomething who taught a local yoga or spin class. But not one damn man. Emily noticed how different it looked from L.A., where everyone was freelance and flexible and sort of working and sort of not. She missed L.A., but it was not missing her back. Olivia Belle had probably signed half the city by now.
Her phone rang and flashed
“Em? Hey, sweetie.”
“Hi. I'm so glad it's you and not the bitch who just fired me.”
“You got fired? Who fired you?”
Emily laughed. “Kim Kelly. In an email that wasn't even intended for me.”
“Kim Kelly's a cunt.”
“I appreciate the sentiment, honey, I really do. But can you not use that word?”
“What, âcunt'? Since when does that bother you? You've been in Greenwich too long.”
“Have you always hated âcunt'? How could I possibly not have known that about you? I mean, my God, weâ”
“Stop saying âCUNT'!” Emily all but shouted into her phone, causing Elodie's and India's mommies to turn and stare. “What are you looking at?” she asked them.
“Me?” Miles asked.
“No, not you.” Emily raised her voice and said into the phone, “I prefer âcooch.' As in, next time you want to get drunk, you should consider sticking vodka-soaked tampons up your cooch. That's what all the
moms are doing.”
This time the women, dumbfounded, exchanged a look.
“What? Vodka-soaked tampons? What are you
about?” Miles said.
“Nothing, never mind.” Emily took a gulp of her now-cold latte. “So where are you now?”
“Just got back from dinner to the hotel, which is insane. I can't wait for you to see it.”
“Yeah, me neither. The pictures look incredible.”
“I'll be back in L.A. a week from this Friday. You'll be home by then, right?”
“Of course. Unemployed, washed up, and humiliated. But home.”
“Oh, come on, Em. Who even cares that Kim Kelly fired you? She's a shit actress anyway.”
“She's won three Oscars and two Globes. She was one of my best clients.”
“She's a hack. And getting older and fatter by the second. You, my love, are the queen of the crazies. I know it, and so does everyone else.”
Clearly he was trying to make her feel better, but it only made Emily
desperate to hang up. “Miles? I've got to run. Miriam's expecting me home soon.”
“Okay. I miss you, honey. Remember, Kim Kelly is a bad car accident, and you're lucky you escaped that one. I'll see you in a couple more weeks, and I'll take you out to cheer you up. Just rememberâyou're a rock star.”
“A rock star. Right. Check.” She couldn't remember feeling this down on herself, possibly ever, but then again, she'd never been fired by three big clients right in a row. She managed an “I love you” before hanging up.
Then, as Emily went to close her laptop, another email came in. Camilla's subject line said:
Please read immediately.
The official firing email. Well, that had taken all of three minutes. “Fuck you,” she said as she jabbed the “delete” button without even opening it. Two women who had taken the table of the other momsâand who were also clad in head-to-toe Lululemonâturned to stare at her, mouths agape.
“Mind your own fucking business,” Emily snapped. “And just so you know, getting drunk through your cooch instead of your mouth will result in an identical DUI, which will inevitably force you to sell your house and change your name and move straight across the country, since no mommy around here will ever speak to you again. Even though they all do it too. Just a friendly FYI.”
Emily grabbed her computer bag and slung it over her shoulder. “Have a great day!” she sang as she left, flashing just the quickest middle finger as she walked past their table. Making new friends was overrated. Especially in the suburbs.
iriam tiptoed back into her still-dark bedroom and slipped under the covers. It felt so supremely indulgent to crawl back in bed. Like when she and Paul had first met and would sleep until eleven on the weekends, venture out in their sweats to pick up coffee and bagels, and then head straight back to bed with their favorite sections of the
New York Times
. Now Wednesdays at eight-fifteen were the new weekend: Paul worked from his home office that day and made it a point not to start until ten, since most other days he was up and out early. She snuggled up with him, pressed her body against his, and inhaled. Something about his neck in the morning always smelled delicious.
He smiled without opening his eyes and murmured, “What did you do with our children?”
“All three off to school. It's just you and me. And Emily, but she
doesn't count. What do you think about that?” She reached her hand under the covers and into the waistband of his boxers, but he turned away.
“I've got to get up. An earlier-than-usual call today.” He gave her a dry peck on the lips, headed into the bathroom, and closed the door behind him. A moment later, she heard the shower turn on.
Miriam kicked off the covers and sighed. She'd had the idea to strip off her stretched-out leggings and yogurt-splattered T-shirt before waking him and had even slipped into what qualified as lingerie after three kids and seven years of marriage: a sleeveless cotton nightshirt and no underwear. What more could the man want?
She followed him into the bathroom and appraised him as he stepped out onto the bath mat after his usual quick rinse. There was no denying it, he was still handsome: broad-shouldered and small-waisted, annoyingly so. His close-cropped hair was starting to turn salt and pepper, but that just made him look more distinguished. And he still had the body of a runnerâlean, ropy, and tightâdespite the fact that Miriam ran more than he did these days, which really wasn't saying much.