Excerpt: Ali Wentworth's 'Ali in Wonderland'

"What's going on?" Her voice was calm, but I noted concern in her inflection. I tried to muster the lucidity to explain. I screamed about the Bahamas and the voice mail, the other woman, the deceit, my mistake, my regret, my fear, then more about the mystery girl and how I had destroyed my life. I shuddered and shook and nearly suffocated on my inhales, like a toddler whose lollipop has been snatched from its mouth. My cheeks were soaked in tears and snot and saliva.

After an eternity of emotional unwinding, I decided to let my mother speak. She had always been the voice of reason, the fixer, the cleaner, the person who knew how to take hold of the reins and drive the carriage home.

She sighed. "Sweetheart," she began in her smooth, assuring voice, and then she took a long pause. "Nobody goes to the Bahamas in July!"

Yes, my mother's name is Muffie, but don't let the name fool you. She doesn't wear headbands and Belgian loafers; she doesn't winter in Palm Beach or summer in Vineyard Haven. She doesn't have any needlepoint pillows with inane sayings like, "Dogs are just children in fur coats," and she doesn't collect porcelain figurines. The name Muffie itself conjures up a plethora of stereotypes that I can eradicate with two simple statements: one, she doesn't drink; and two, there is no more money. Sure, years ago great-great grandparents invested well in Ford Motor Company and Standard Oil and relatives were able to live in style and skate through an economic downturn, but those days are gone. The money has since been invested badly, embezzled by greedy spouses, or drunk away. The only visible trace of any WASP heritage is the name. And the lineage. And the ethics, theology, and ideology. And the fact that she was raised in Boston, went to boarding school and Smith, and twice married men from Harvard. Plus, she's never peed in the shower.

This Muffie, my mother, is strong and determined. "Balls!" said the Queen. "If I had them I'd be King!" She has worked her whole life and during any down time wrote a book, started a company, or curated an exhibit about the women who formed this country. And in her spare time cleaned out a garage or had a yard sale on the hottest day in Maine or drove ten hours to Cape Cod with four screaming kids. If anyone were to write the "I know how to have it all, find balance, live a fulfilling life, lose weight, aha moment chicken soup, live your best life on ten dollars a day" book, it's Muffie.

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