Authors: Theresa Rebeck
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
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Copyright © 2016 by Theresa Rebeck
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-18296-7
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
I’m glad about you / Theresa Rebeck.
ISBN 978-0-399-17288-5 (hardcover)
1. First loves—Fiction. 2. Man-woman relationships—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3568.E2697I47 2016 2015025079
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For Rima Horton
A great reader
And a great friend
UT WHAT IS
, 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 bedside reading for
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.
demimonde, actually,” he told her. “There’s only one of them, grammatically speaking.”
“What?” said Alison, confused.
“The demimonde. It’s called
demimonde. Not like
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
“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 flower out of his correction of her grammar. “It’s okay,” he told her kindly.
“That you didn’t know.”
“That I didn’t know that people call it
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 taking 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
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 relentless 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 bad! 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” demimonde.
This isn’t eighteenth-century France,
Who gives a shit?
“Well,” she laughed, opting for good humor, “I did know generally more or less
the demimonde. I was an English major in college and we tossed the whole thing about during one
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 seemingly simple situations were frankly problematic for Alison, whose untamed heart and effortless intelligence combined to create an unfortunately 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 circumstances or for any reason. Unfortunately, her ex-boyfriend’s ex-friend was not the only male creature who had ever mistaken this trait for something less defined and more blameworthy.