Authors: Lauren Weisberger
“What are you up to today?” Paul asked as he tied his towel around his waist and swiped on some deodorant.
Paul had never shown anything but complete support for her decisions. Whether she was working eighty hours a week at Skadden or enjoying her new, more leisurely life, he was completely behind her. He didn't mean it now in a snarky way, he was just expressing interest in her day. Still, she felt a little stupid telling him that she was planning to attend a sip 'n' see at eleven.
“That sounds nice,” he said through a mouthful of toothpaste.
“I mean, who does that? A formal baby viewing at eleven a.m. on a Wednesday? Does no one have anywhere else to be?”
He spat and rinsed. “Go and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.” Another unsexy peck, this one on the cheek. “I've got to jump on this call. I'll see you at the school at three. And have fun at the party!”
“Thanks,” she muttered, but he was already gone.
A scan through her own closet revealed a lot of leftover work clothes and plenty of workout clothes, but not much else. She pulled out a pair of black pants, boot-cut and professional, with a white silk blouse, kitten-heeled patent-leather shoes, and her late grandmother's gold-leaf necklace. Miriam glanced in the mirror and nodded with approval. Totally inoffensive. Blending in. Perfect for anything from a conference room to a Hadassah luncheon. But when she walked into the kitchen, Emily turned around from her perch in front of the cabinet-mounted TV, coffee mug in hand, and said, “Really? You look like a cater-waiter.”
“Thanks. You always know just what to say.” Miriam stuck a mug in the coffee machine and hit “start.” “Where are
going?” she asked Emily, taking in her leather leggings, chunky cardigan tied off at the waist, and four-inch booties.
“With you,” Emily said.
“Like hell you are.” Miriam splashed some leftover milk from one of the kids' cereal bowls into her coffee and took a sip. “Seriously, where?”
“I can't sit here anymore. Please.”
“I'm hardly tying you to the bed each day. You're free to go anytime. I've even offered you a ride to the airport.”
“I know, I know. Miles isn't home to visit for another couple weeks, and you know I hate being alone. Plus, I can't face everyone after this whole thing with Kim Kelly. Don't make me leave. I even kind of sort of like it here. In a weird, fucked-up way.”
“I'm not making you leave! But there is no way you're coming with me to a sip 'n' see. You weren't invited. You don't even
“I'm sure there'll be plenty of wine, so I'll be fine. Please? I won't embarrass you.” Emily motioned again to Miriam's outfit with a look of pure disgust. “Although I hardly think I'll be the problem.”
Miriam couldn't help but laugh. “You are such a bitch. Fine. I'll say you're my pathetic, childless, out-of-town friend who's going through a really hard time right now. But promise me you'll keep your mouth
closed. It'd be nice to meet some new people without you scaring them all off.”
Emily headed to the mudroom. “Come on, we don't want to be late.”
The drive to the sip 'n' see took them through Greenwich's downtown, which upon first glance resembled a charming version of a pedestrian-friendly, all-American Any Townâuntil you noticed the storefronts: Tiffany, rag & bone, Baccarat, Alice and Olivia, Joie, Vince, Theory. One of the only mom-and-pop stores sold and serviced fur coats. Range Rovers and Audi SUVs occupied at least fifty percent of the metered spots.
But soon they were past it and weaving through the more rural part of town, on the outskirts closer to Bedford, to a pretty street that snaked through the woods. Miriam turned onto a road with a very small and subtle
sign and followed it up and over a steep hill, then down into a more densely wooded area until the woods cleared to reveal a gorgeous, sprawling estate. A handsome valet who looked more like he belonged on a surfboard than in a uniform materialized at the driver's side and took Miriam's keys.
“Now we're talking!” Emily said, staring. “Who did you say this was for?”
“One of the moms in Maisie's class. Just had her fourth baby. I don't really know her, but my coâroom mom, Ashley, is organizing it, and she invited me.”
“I'm no expert, but I thought you didn't get a shower after baby number one.”
“It's not a
. It's a
. Plus, this is Greenwich, where we embrace all excuses to drink during the day.”
A heavyset woman in black pants and a pressed white shirt opened the front door as they approached. Emily took one look at the maid's uniform, turned to Miriam, and raised her eyebrows.
They were escorted through a sprawling kitchen and into the most spectacular greenhouse, a massive room with a glass ceiling and all-glass
walls that overlooked acres of snow-covered backyard. Exotic cacti and tropical plants in hand-painted planters; succulents of all shapes and sizes; orchids and birds-of-paradise in bright bursts of color. Among all this natural beauty, sixty or so of the most meticulously put-together women Miriam had ever seen lounged on upholstered chaises, perched on sofa backs, stood in groups of three and four, and sipped mimosas and Bloody Marys, each looking like her own version of perfection with a glossy blowout and an outfit just like Emily's. More attractive waiters floated around refilling drinks and offering fruit skewers and Greek-yogurt mini-parfaits and other assorted carb-free goodies. The decorations were shades of pink, but nothing else was baby-themed: not a diaper or a baby bottle in sight.
“I feel like we just stepped into an episode of
,” Emily hissed. “Only without all the screaming. And with much better taste.”
Before Miriam could respond, her coâroom mom, Ashley, bounded over, an absolute vision of perkiness: perky blond bob, perky boobs, perky smile. Veneered teeth. Pretty in a girl-next-door way and just stylish enough not to be intimidating in a short dress with ankle booties and a cropped leather jacket. Her diamonds were gorgeous without being ostentatious, her tan was just right, and her perfume was detectable but not overwhelming. She seemed so
“Miriam! I'm so glad you could make it!” Then, turning to Emily but without a hint of disapproval, she said, “Hi there, I'm Ashley. I don't think we've met.”
Miriam started to explain why she'd brought an uninvited friend, but Emily turned on her own beaming smile. “Ashley! Miriam has told me so much about you. She said you're showing her the ropes withÂ .Â .Â . everything. I'm Emily Charlton. I'm visiting from L.A., and Miriam took pity on me sitting at home alone and invited me along. I hope you don't mind?”
Ashley appeared thunderstruck. “Wait. You're Emily Charlton? Not
Miriam tried not to laugh as she watched Emily's face transform
from fake happiness to genuine joy. “Do we know each other?” she asked with faux humility.
“No, no! I mean, of course you don't know
,” Ashley said, looking flustered for the first time Miriam had ever seen. “But I'm very into fashionânot that you can tell by this old thingâand, well, I have totally followed your career from your
days. I think it's just incredible what you've done for Kim Kelly. She was a hot mess before she met you!”
Miriam noticed Emily's jaw tighten at Kim's name. This could very easily take a turn for the worse. Quickly, before Emily could say anything appalling, Miriam grabbed her by the arm. “Ashley, we'll be right back. I want to introduce her to the guest of honor.” She yanked Emily to the other side of the room and shot her a warning look. “Best behavior,” she said in a low voice.
,” Emily said. “But you can't keep me from my adoring fans forever.”
The sound of a utensil clinking against crystal interrupted them. “Ladies! It's that time!” Ashley called out, beaming.
Everyone held aloft a drink and clinked. Miriam heard a woman behind her say quietly to another, “She spun for a girl with number three, and when that didn't work, she had in vitro with this one. Why are we all acting like this is some sort of big surprise?”
“Let's have Christina open her gifts,” Ashley announced. “Chris, which would you like to start with?”
Everyone turned to the gift table, which was surprisingly sparse. Miriam counted exactly three gifts, one of which she knew to be her own.
Christina ripped the card off the first box, which was wrapped in the most beautiful floral paper and tied with a bunch of live peonies. She read the card and, after announcing it was from her mother-in-law, opened the package to reveal a sterling silver rattle, baby spoon, and sippy cup.
“And they're engraved with Rose's name,” a thin woman in a Chanel skirt suit announced from her seat.
Christina blew her a kiss and then opened the second gift. “Oh, Marta, you shouldn't have!” she squealed, holding up a generic hooded-towel-and-washcloth set trimmed in itchy-looking pink lace. She motioned for the uniformed maid who had greeted the guests at the front door to enter the room, and the woman shyly approached. “I love it. Thank you so much!” The housekeeper bent down for an awkward hug and then scurried away. Christina handed it off to Ashley. It was not monogrammed. It was not woven from Egyptian cotton. It did not originate in a French boutique. Even Miriam knew the chances that the towel or washcloth would ever so much as graze an inch of that baby's skin were nil.
“Here you go,” Ashley chirped, handing over the last wrapped box: Miriam's.
Christina quickly unwrapped it and revealed the contents to the crowd. Two pink onesies with zippersâMiriam had loved the zippers instead of snaps with her own babiesâa coordinating newborn hat, and a pair of furry pink booties. “Oh, how precious. I love it! Miriam, thank youâthat was so sweet.”
Christina seemed to appreciate and admire the outfit, and Miriam felt a wave of relief that she had chosen well. But where were everyone else's gifts? Why was it only Miriam, the mother-in-law, and the maid?
A hush fell over the room. Christina looked eager, anticipatory.
“Okay, ladies! The moment you've all been waiting for. It's time for the group present!” Ashley called as though she were the head cheerleader at a football game.
Only then did Miriam notice a gigantic pink sheet thrown over something large in the corner. A baby swing, she figured. Probably one of those new high-tech ones that you could control with your phone through an app and have it link to Spotify. Who knew these days? It could come with a camera or an aromatherapy diffuser, for all she knew.
“So, this is from the rest of us,” Ashley sang. “Because we know it's only two weeks until you can work out again, and with four kiddos it might not be so easy to get to the studio, soÂ .Â .Â . Ta-dah!” And with
a great flourish, Ashley yanked off the blanket to reveal a brand-new Peloton spin bike. Perched on a side table next to it, collected in a gigantic wire-mesh basket, were an extra set of clippable pedals, wireless headphones, sleek white spin shoes, a YETI water bottle, and a pile of Lululemon workout clothes so massive that it looked as though someone had purchased the store's entire size-four stock.
“Oh my God, it's
what I was hoping for!” Christina squealed with obvious delight. “Thank you! Each and every one of you! You are all just so amazing!”
The entire room clapped and cheered and lined up to receive their grateful hug.
?” Emily hissed. A little too loudly, Miriam thought. “Even in L.A.âwhich I previously thought was the most fucked-up place everâwomen bring actual babies to a viewing party!”
Miriam was scanning the room when she felt her phone vibrate. Worried that it was one of the kids' schools, she pulled it out. A meeting reminder. She'd set it when she first started working at Skadden so she never forgot the weekly lunch meeting, where the partners would take turns presenting their case updates to everyone else. Twelve-thirty on the dot, every Wednesday. She had hated that meeting, absolutely dreaded it, but for some reason, she had never deleted the automatic reminder. Now she looked around the beautiful room at all the beautiful plants and the stylish women, nibbling gourmet treats and sipping morning cocktails, and she felt a pang of yearning for that drab conference room with its droning partners and dry turkey club sandwiches. Only for a split second. But still.
Emily raised her champagne glass. “Don't get me wrong, I'm
sipping and not seeing, but good God.”
They were interrupted by Ashley, who was cradling an armful of the most sumptuous-looking cashmere blankets in a very tender way.
“Oh! Is that baby Rose?” Miriam cried, moving closer for a peek just as Emily stepped away.
Ashley looked confused. “What? Oh, this?” She tossed the pile on
the couch, and both women gasped. Ashley stared at Miriam and Emily as if they were crazy. “Those are gifts.”
“Got it,” Miriam said.
“Listen, do you two have a minute? It would be so great if you could help me hand out the favors. We had white S'well water bottles personalized with âRose,' and we had them wrapped with a bottle of Whispering Angel for each guest. Get it? Rose and RosÃ©? They're
“Got to keep our sip going,” Emily said, raising her eyebrows in Miriam's direction.
Miriam shot Emily a warning look and turned to Ashley. “Of course. We would love to help.”
arolina was sick of playing the good girl. What the hell had Trip done other than remind her that she had no rights? She was still in limbo and without any substantive information. How long was she expected to hide away in Greenwich, playing nicely, as instructed, in hopes of seeing Harry?