Authors: Theresa Alan
Girls Who Gossip
“Theresa Alan had me up all night! I loved every twist and turn of this moody, funny, and ultimately touching story. Helaina is a character I expect will stay with me for a long, long time.”
—Megan Crane, author of
Everyone Else’s Girl
“The Melancholy Dane receives a chicky makeover in Theresa Alan’s
Girls Who Gossip,
a modern-day revisioning of the Shakespeare tragedy in which Hamlet is now a young woman named Helaina, much of the drama has been replaced with comedy, and the result is smart-smart fun.”
—Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of
A Little Change of Face
“A real charmer!
Girls Who Gossip
drew me in at page one and kept me turning well into the night. I couldn’t wait to see how it all unfolded. Touching, witty and utterly delightful.”
—Jennifer Coburn, author of
Tales From the Crib
The Girls’ Global Guide to Guys
The Girls’ Global Guide to Guys,
Theresa Alan delivers a brisk, funny, keenly observed portrait of a woman who wants more out of life than a soul-killing job and a tepid romance—and finds it on exotic shores.”
—Kim Green, author of
Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?
“A wonderful and fun read not to be missed!”
Spur of the Moment
“The players come across as real—kudos to Theresa Alan for accomplishing this feat. The sensitivities of Ana and the uniqueness of each member of the troupe as she perceives them make for a solid character study with overtones of a family drama and chick-lit tale.”
—The Midwest Book Review
“Alan shows that she’s capable of handling sensitive issues with an effectively gentle touch.”
Who You Know
“Alan does a masterful job…As the three women face the trials and triumphs of life, they assist each other in ways that only best friends can—through unconditional love, unrelenting humor and unwavering support. Reminiscent of
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,
Alan’s is a novel to be savored like a good box of chocolates.”
“A delightful chick-lit.”
—The Midwest Book Review
“A gorgeous book, superbly written with compassion and caring.
Who You Know
should absolutely be number one on everyone’s list.”
Books by Theresa Alan
WHO YOU KNOW
SPUR OF THE MOMENT
THE GIRLS’ GLOBAL GUIDE TO GUYS
GIRLS WHO GOSSIP
THE DANGERS OF MISTLETOE
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
You are not the first, and you are definitely not the last.
(Graffiti written in block letters with a permanent black marker in a bathroom stall at Mickie’s Pub in Denver, Colorado.)
And probably, you are not the best.
(Graffiti written just below in red ink.)
he graffiti makes me groan. I’m trapped in this stall, paralyzed by the words scrawled on the door in front of me.
Here’s the deal: My boyfriend, Will, who is sitting downstairs drinking beer and listening to music, blissfully unaware that I’m up here having a conniption fit, is thirty-four and divorced. (I’m thirty-one and never married.) He doesn’t have any kids, and his divorce sounds about as amicable as a divorce can get, but I can’t help it—I’m wracked with jealousy over his ex. I can’t even bring myself to call her by name; I think of her as X. A big, slashing, Zorro-like, blood-dripping-down-like-on-a-poster-for-a-horror-movie X.
It’s so painful for me to think that the love of my life once vowed to spend his life with another woman when he should have known to wait for me. I know my feeling is unreasonable, and I’m not even sure why it’s so strong. I used to have a long-term boyfriend who had once been married, and I never gave his ex-wife a second thought. Somehow though, with Will, thoughts of X just
me. And the intellectual in me knows that if you’re going to wait around until your thirties to get married, your choices are either going to be men who are afraid of commitment or divorcés or the real whammy, men who are divorced and are
afraid of commitment. But I still don’t like it.
And here’s why:
Except, I do. The answers to my questions inevitably just add salt to my already raw wound. For example, I asked him once what X did for a living. He said that when they were together she worked in human resources, but before he met her, she’d been a stripper. He laughed when he said that. “We were married when I found out,” he said. “She waited a good long time to tell me. It bothered me for awhile, but now I think it’s funny.”
That makes one of us.
A woman who isn’t afraid to get up on stage and take off her clothes in front of men is—I’m venturing a wild guess here—going to be a little more free about her body than oh, say for example,
. There are women who can pull off high heels, garters, and all manner of ridiculous and impractical undergarments. I am decidedly not one of these women. And while I think my bras and Victoria’s Secret underwear are perfectly pretty, sometimes maybe even a little sexy—lace, vibrant colors, lots of black—they are a far cry from see-through merriwidows and crotchless panties. Feelings of merriwidow inadequacy have me in an emotional chokehold.
When I asked Will what made him fall for X in the first place, he told me that he liked how friendly and outgoing she was.
“In what ways was she outgoing?” I, like an idiot, asked.
“Like, say she’s at a bar or a party. She introduces herself to everyone in the room and makes friends with everybody. She’s always the life of the party. Like this one time we had a get-together, and when everyone was good and liquored up, she went around taking all the women’s bras and then threw them on the ceiling fan—”
Let me take this opportunity to assure you right now, if you had any doubts: I would
do such a thing. For one thing, this seems a ridiculous activity and it would simply never occur to me. I’m telling you, no amount of drunkenness would ever be enough for me to come up with such a scheme. For another thing, I’m not a go-braless kind of girl. I’m busty as hell, which makes it pretty much a medical necessity that I wear a bra at all times. I mean I need serious architecture to keep things more or less in place. Let’s say I was unharnessed and had to move quickly for some reason—a fire, say—the inevitable mammary backlash could wallop me in the face at best, or, at worst, leave me in traction with the kind of concussion where the resulting amnesia is lifelong.
I pull myself together enough to exit the stall. I splash water on my face and look at myself in the mirror. I’ve met a wonderful man. I have a mostly good job. Why can’t I just celebrate how great my life is? Why do I do this to myself: Indulging in feelings of self-doubt? But every now and then I can’t seem to stop dissecting my flaws in painful detail. Like now.
My failings (a sampling):
I try to remind myself of the good things about me, but sometimes thoughts of my flaws supersede everything else.
Will and I have only been together for six months, but he’s the first guy I thought I might want to spend my life with. After our second date, I emailed all my girlfriends and told them that I might just change my mind about marriage after all. Before Will, I thought I didn’t want to get married. I don’t mean that I wanted to spend my life alone or anything. I did want to find someone to share my life with. I just didn’t think I wanted to do it with all the official trappings that signing a marriage certificate brings. Here’s why:
Then came Will and everything changed. I’m not sure exactly why, but soon after meeting him I could barely stop myself from buying the phone-book-thick bridal magazines adorning the racks at the grocery store. After our first kiss, I could envision the engagement ring on my finger. I actually missed it, almost sensed it on my finger. You know how when you forget to put your watch on, and then all day at work you look at your bare wrist, feeling naked? You can actually feel the ghost of the watch, the palpable absence of it. That’s how I felt about my left ring finger except, and this is key, there had never been a ring there to miss. It’s lunacy. We haven’t been dating long enough to even think about marriage. He hasn’t even met any of my family yet since they are spread out all across the country. Dad is still in Chicago where I grew up, my younger sister Sienna is in New York trying to launch a career as a comedian, and my mother is out in California with her second husband. But who cares about them. I want the ring. I’ve become Gollum from
The Lord of the Rings: Give me the ring. Give me my precious. My precious ring.
I should defend myself and tell you that it was really more than a couple dates that made me crazy about him. I knew Will pretty well even before we actually met.
I found him online. I’d been searching the online personals for months, and I just could not find a guy I was interested in. The challenge is that I live in Colorado, but I’m not an outdoorsy person, which makes me quite the exception ’round these parts. Coloradoans are a ridiculously outdoorsy people as a rule. I would say about eighty percent of the men around Denver put up personal ads that say something to the effect of: “I love to ski, mountain climb, fish, golf, camp, hang glide, hunt, scuba, snorkel, kayak, snowboard, mountain bike, go four-wheeling, and scale cliff faces. I love watching baseball, football, hockey, tennis, and basketball. I live life to the fullest and would like a woman who I can trek the Himalayas with and train for marathons alongside.”
I got tired just reading them. I did not want to be dragged up a mountain on a week-long hike. I did not want to pee in the woods, sleep in nature, or commune with insects. Where was a guy who just wanted to talk, drink, screw, and see a good movie once in awhile?
Of the twenty percent or so who weren’t triathletes, most of them had something else about them that was a deal breaker for me like they weren’t attractive or couldn’t spell for shit. Many of the guys posting ads wrote things that looked like they’d taken a running leap onto their keyboard and then hit
. Like this one, repeated here verbatim:
i&*$%%m lookin for womin who is prety, intelegent
(I ask you, to misspell “intelligent”!? The nerve!)
and wers thong underwear. I&*@%%ve a heart of gold
I’d nearly given up hope. Then came Will. I liked his picture—he has a sexy smile, kind eyes, and cool glasses—so I clicked on his profile to learn more. His ad read: “I think my friends would describe me as funny and smart. I’ve been told that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and that I am one of the easiest-going people around. I work with computers for a living, which I generally enjoy. For fun, I like live music, movies, restaurants, dancing (though not the ballroom variety—trust me, it’s not pretty), travel. I am a guitar player (not bad), a golfer (not good), and willing to try most anything once (anything, that is, that doesn’t involve throwing oneself out of a perfectly good aircraft).”
As soon as I read that he had no desire to toss himself out of a plane, I thought,
there’s my man
. Also, I needed a guy who was easygoing. I’m high-strung enough for two people. I need a yin to my stressed-out yang. The fact that he played the guitar was also a plus. A guy who plays guitar is somehow intrinsically sexy.
I was out of town on business when I first emailed him, so we wrote each other back and forth for two full weeks before I got back in town. Via three or four long emails a day, we told each other all about our childhoods, our families, our jobs. Before we’d even met, I knew he was hilarious, intelligent, and a damn fine grammarian.
In one of those premeeting emails, I asked him about his divorce. “If I’m being too nosy, just let me know.”
“I’m happy to answer any of your questions, Eva, don’t worry about it. I’m all about honesty,” he wrote back. “Let’s see, we were married for four years, and in the beginning, it was really good. The end wasn’t about money, nobody had an affair, and no firearms were involved. I think what I learned from the experience is that if there are things that bother you before you get married and you can’t even discuss them, can’t even talk about how to change or deal with whatever issues are going on, run. It was an exercise in Chinese water torture for me.”
I emailed him back. “Interesting. Except what’s Chinese water torture?
“When you get the Chinese water torture treatment, you are strapped to a table or whatever, and a steady drip of water hits your forehead from overhead. The first few drops aren’t a big deal—as were the issues my ex and I faced prewedding. Eventually, though, the inescapable, relentless drips are maddening to the point they can simply drive you insane. Drip, drip, drip. You know it’s going to come again and again and again, and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.”
When Will and I finally met in person at a bar for drinks, it was—I’m sorry to be sappy and dramatic here—magical. When I first saw him, my pulse surged and I couldn’t keep a smile off my face. The very first words out of his mouth were, “Wow, you are really pretty. I thought you looked cute in your picture, but now I realize that picture really didn’t do you justice.”
Our date was completely free of the usual first date awkwardness because we’d already gotten to know each other so well through email. We didn’t stop talking or laughing for six hours straight. At the end of the night, he walked me to my car and gave me a kiss that was soft, and warm, and wonderful.
Will had no time for games. The morning after our first date he wrote me that the previous evening had been one of the best dates of his life, and he couldn’t wait to see me again. Oh how that put a smile on my face. And I felt the exact same way and told him so.