Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Read an #Excerpt from None of This Would Have Happened If Prince Were Alive by Carolyn Prusa

About the Book

None of This Would Have Happened If Prince Were Alive 
by Carolyn Prusa 
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 22nd 2022 by Atria Books (first published November 8th 2022)
Perfect for fans of Maria Semple and Jennifer Weiner, this smart and witty debut novel follows Ramona through the forty-eight hours after her life has been upended by the discovery of her husband’s affair and an approaching Category Four hurricane.

Ramona’s got a bratty boss, a toddler teetering through toilet training, a critical mom who doesn’t mind sharing, and oops—a cheating husband. That’s how a Category Four hurricane bearing down on her life in Savannah becomes just another item on her to-do list. In the next forty-eight hours she’ll add a neighborhood child and the class guinea pig named Clarence Thomas to her entourage as she struggles to evacuate town.

Ignoring the persistent glow of her minivan’s check engine light, Ramona navigates police check points, bathroom emergencies, demands from her boss, and torrential downpours while fielding calls and apology texts from her cheating husband and longing for the days when her life was like a Prince song, full of sexy creativity and joy.

Thoroughly entertaining and completely relatable, None of This Would Have Happened if Prince Were Alive is the hilarious, heartwarming story of a woman up to her elbows in calamities and about to drive off the brink of the rest of her life.


1:13 p.m.

Nicole’s photo pops up on my caller ID. It’s a selfie where her face is barely visible behind her towheaded twins. In the picture one of them is sucking on a Tootsie Roll Pop and the other one sticks out her tongue. Looks like the flavor was cherry. I brace myself. “Hey, girl, hey.”
Nicole watches Nanette in the afternoons for a babysitting fee under market rates. If I get a call from school or a babysitter at work my body initiates the flight-or-fight response and I immediately imagine Alex or Nanette in King Kong’s fist, dangling from a jump rope off the Talmadge Bridge, or more likely leaving a lunch box in the driveway after abandoning it for a rock that looked like a shark tooth. Which would mean someone’s cubby is now sans sandwich so basically the earth has stopped spinning.
Nicole hesitates. “I don’t want to stress you out, but.”
“Can you pick up Nanette earlier today?” Nanette. My curious, snot-encrusted, lisping three-year-old with burnt orange curls and a cleft in her chin, who accompanies Nicole and her twins home from preschool until I make the pickup rounds. Why do I need to scoop up my daughter early?
It’s only 1:15.
I’m a nail-biter. My ring finger on my right hand is my favorite. Upon hearing Nicole’s request, my hand flies to my mouth.
“Of course,” I tell Nicole. “How come?”
“Think we’re busting loose,” Nicole says. “We don’t want to get stuck in traffic.” Traffic with a nasally “a”—Nicole grew up in Michigan. She is also the friend I talk to most often due to our daily drive-by exchanges of Nanette. Suckily, I chat with college girlfriends and mom homies less and less as my days morphed from long stretches of hours to fill to tight rectangles of time with lists. Lucky Nicole.
“You’re what?”
“Ramona,” Nicole starts. “Are you keeping tabs on this storm? Once upon a time there was a hurricane named Matthew.”
“It’s Wednesday. The hurricane is supposed to come Friday.”
“We’re in the Cone of Uncertainty.” I find that phrase delightful. “Like my career.”
“Or my marriage,” she says.
“Isn’t this a little alarmist?”
“Not if you don’t want to be stuck in nine hours of traffic on the way to Macon with twin toddlers.”
Nanette’s mobile fire engine potty flashes to my mind. Also the R.E.M. video for “Everybody Hurts.” Nope, nope, nope, no.
“Well,” I say, pulling up the Weather Channel site on my monitor. There’s an apostrophe shape swirling over the Atlantic with an angry red-purple center. Next to it is a model of rainbow colored spaghetti noodles hugging the East Coast. “Holy guacamole.”
“If we wait too long, the traffic will be awful.”
“Right,” I murmur.
“Maybe I should buy adult diapers,” she says.
“Do you remember the lady astronaut who bought adult diapers to drive from Texas to Florida to get revenge on her husband’s mistress? Or maybe she was the mistress. She didn’t want bathroom breaks to slow her down.”
“I don’t,” Nicole says. “But never underestimate a woman on a mission.”
“I don’t know how much time she really saved with the diapers. Because you’ve got to stop for gas.”
“Unless you can get there with just one tank. So, I’m packing. Jonathan wants to leave right now.” Of course he does—I roll my eyes. Nicole can’t see me, only Cailyn witnesses my flippant expression as she plods past me with a brown box from Back in the Day Bakery. In this office it’s someone’s birthday every half hour. “We can bring Nanette to your office. If that’s easier.”
It’s an idea. Then again, Nanette at my office. Skipping down the halls. Eating rubber cement. Practicing somersaults between the partitions. The polite smiles of my hipster coworkers, the frantic typing as they instant message each other, complaining. Me, asking her if she needs to use the potty every five minutes, Nanette screaming no, and crumpling into a ball on the sisal carpet, flashing her soiled Elsa undies under her ruffled skirt.
Three desks away Kenneth hovers over Bearded Designer #3, who points to something on his screen. I watch my boss scratch his stubble, then his butt.
“Or,” she continues, “want me to call Miss Sandy and ask if Nanette can go back to school with the full-day kids? I’m sorry to be a pain.”
“Stop saying you’re sorry! It’s cool. She doesn’t have Minneapolis. She doesn’t nap much anymore, and she definitely won’t without Minneapolis.”
Minneapolis = Nanette’s giraffe blanket.
“True,” Nicole admits. “Sorry. I know it’s not ideal. Better safe, though?”
“It’s okay. That’s the dark side of you turbo organized moms. You get paranoid about stuff. The good part is that I know my kid is safe.”
Nicole’s laugh sounds more fitting for a seasoned bartender slinging beers for stubbled football fans in Green Bay than a consultant turned stay-at-home mom—it’s low, churning, and raspy.
“Or so you think,” she says. In the background I hear Nanette and the twins banging on something—there’s a crash, a pause, and three high pitched giggles.
“All right,” I tell her. “Keep your Lululemons on. Someone will be there in thirty. Maybe me. Maybe Des or Adelaide.”
“Excuse me.”
“I’m wearing leggings from the Carrie Underwood collection for Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
“Oh. Good on you. Good on Carrie.”
“You should probably get gas, too,” she suggests. “And think about getting out of here.”
I should also call Arrow Exterminators and tell them about the cockroach the size of my thumb that I found this morning on our kitchen floor, his legs bicycling the air in slow motion. And yet here we are.

1:42 p.m.

At first Mom is not picking up her phone. Then she calls me back, only to inform me too loudly she’s in the waiting room at the dentist office, they are taking forever, and there’s a new woman at reception who has no idea what she’s doing. Des does not respond to my text so I reckon he’s really on the roof this time.
I am hyper aware of any kid-related absences that may be held against me. Even though I try to play down my momminess, it rises to the surface. Like when I’m trying to speed thaw frozen chicken by plunging it into hot water in a Ziploc bag. It keeps floating up so that parts of the breast get a squishy texture while the edges remain solid with freezer crystals.
I need to scoop up Nanette from Nicole’s house. I watch Kenneth making big hand gestures near the designer’s desk—like, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” meets Bob Fosse—and I mentally write a letter to his back. It goes like this:
Dear Kenneth,
I feel nervous telling you I have to leave the office. At the heart of things I am a people-pleaser—believe you me, I am working on that. At the same time, I waffle back and forth between guilt and a feeling of outrage that I’m experiencing these emotions to begin with. I am responsible and I work hard. When I have kid emergencies, I never let one iota of work slip. By the way, it’s 2016. We have a woman running for president. Also you may have heard of the internet, which means I can manage projects from anywhere. I should be home wearing my slippers and too small Purple Rain T-shirt with the bleach stain on the right boob. Also when I said I was a multitasker in my interview, it was a lie. Yeah, I lied. The idea of keeping both my kids happy and safe in two different schools and making sure my house is not a toxic dump and trying to be a supportive partner for my husband instead of a cranky bitch and making sure the clients are happy is frankly, mind-blowing.
I am smart, but that shit is hard. This is something you have never attempted to balance in your life, and maybe never will have to.
PS I suspect Intern MacKenzie slept here last Thursday night.
PPS Guesstimate is not a word. When you say it, I want to puncture my ear drums with the keys to my minivan.
Instead I call out, “Kenneth, I’m going to step out for a minute.” 
“Ramona, kewl.”

2:07 p.m.

I sneak past Nicole’s husband boarding up windows in his work khakis—that’s a half hour conversation I don’t have time for. Inhaling fresh plywood plucked from Home Depot, I wait on the front porch while Nicole flips over the dead bolt.
Nicole has a heart-shaped face with overplucked eyebrows. She got her boobs done last Christmas because she says nursing twins turned them into edamame husks. You can’t see them today under the gray baggy University of Chicago sweatshirt she’s wearing with cherry blossom printed leggings. Over her shoulder she exclaims, “Nan-nan Babycakes. Look who’s here!”
Nanette is surprised to see me—it’s earlier than usual—and she springs into my arms like we’re long lost comrades. My daughter hugs with ferocity and smells like baby wipes and applesauce. Her joy at seeing me is temporary because next she remembers her snack and launches a tantrum at the idea she won’t be able to finish it. Nicole says she can take it with her.
Dang, Nicole’s house is clean. I bet you could run a white glove along any surface in Nicole’s midcentury ranch and it would come up the color of fresh snow, printer paper, the mountain of cocaine on Tony Montana’s desk. Women with far more responsibilities than me pull off everyday tasks with speed and efficiency and I don’t understand how they do it. My mother-in-law gave us 23andMe kits for Christmas—it took me until August to spit on the thing—and I still haven’t put it in the mail yet.
As Nicole pours goldfish into a Ziploc bag, we exchange the look of women who have been beaten down into Choosing Our Battles thanks to years of toddler dictatorships. I ease Nanette’s small feet into faded silver glitter Mary Janes. We find her purple headband; I grab her bookbag from a basket and take her hand.
Nicole tells me she’s getting a migraine from that “g-d hammering” and they haven’t even packed a suitcase yet. At the door she gives me a hug—a real one with strong arms, not a cocktail party pat.
On the path to the car Nanette finds all kinds of cool sticks and leaves. I try to step into her universe and appreciate a child’s innocent view of the world around her. It slows me down. Then the moment passes and I feel like a maniac again.
As we buckle up, Nanette emits a squeal of glee upon locating Minneapolis, who was scrunched in the cup holder of her crusty car seat. I sense Nicole’s family’s energy from inside the house. They’re waiting for us to leave. As soon as my Sienna labors out of sight, they will stuff the kids inside the SUV and peel away like the Road Runner.
I remind myself Hurricane Matthew isn’t here yet. He’s only just made it to Haiti.
“Where’s Alex?” Nanette asks me. It’s not “Aah-wex,” anymore, it’s “Alex.” It’s one of those bittersweet transitions, like the moment I realized Alex requested strawberries for breakfast instead of “tawbies.”
I turn the ignition. “He’s still at school.”
“Well,” I explain, backing out of Nicole’s driveway. “I picked you up first today.”
“Isn’t that a fun surprise?”
As Nanette considers this idea, she lowers Minneapolis’s gnarled horn from her lips.
“No,” she says.


Mom Down, Y’all

2:34 p.m.

When I see Desmond’s truck in the driveway, my first thought is, he must be more worried about the hurricane than I thought, just saying. Once I’m inside the house my second thought is: My husband is having an affair.
Turns out, both are true.
Nanette and I announce ourselves as we pour through the screen door—“Hellooooooo!”—only to be greeted by a flushed strawberry blonde in tight dark jeans tucked into cowboy boots holding a coconut La Croix in front of the fridge. I’m startled, a stranger is raiding our produce, then I recognize her—it’s Sarah Ellen, one of the mothers from Alex’s school. Her kid dressed up as Iron Man for Halloween last year. Caden or Jaden or something like that.
“Oh,” she says.
“Hey,” I say, and I’m confused as to why she’s here, why she didn’t greet me in a friendlier fashion, and why she’s still loitering there—in front of our Maytag that I work hard to stock with mostly healthy foods but also reasonable ones you’d expect small children to eat, unlike Nicole, who makes her kids eat quinoa kale balls.
Desmond rounds the corner in a ratty Dave Matthews T-shirt, boxers, and a face that transforms from red to white.
And then I get it.
My husband, and this Sarah Ellen.
While I was at work or while they thought I was at work.
“Daddy!” Nanette leaves my side, and runs to Desmond, whose trance is broken by dimpled hands surrounding his thighs. “You’re wearing your unders. Silly.”
“Hey, Nanner!” Desmond says, his voice half-autopilot-cheerful and half-shaky. I am still standing at the door holding Nanette’s backpack.
You know when people flatline on the operating table and float over their bodies? I see how that happens now. There I am in the kitchen—five foot six and a half, slightly squishy around the middle, a brunette bob with frizzy gray baby hairs, sassy bohemian blouse and work pants, practical but professional shoes, the strap of an Elsa backpack in my right hand, two rings on my left.
“This is bad,” Sarah Ellen says.
Her voice: quavering. The refrigerator beeps because the door has been open too long, she presses it shut.
“Yes,” I hear my voice say. “It is.”
“Ramona,” Desmond says. “Monie.”
That was probably the last coconut La Croix.

From NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF PRINCE WERE ALIVE by Carolyn Prusa, published by Atria Books. Copyright © 2022 by Carolyn Prusa. Reprinted courtesy of Atria Books.

About the Author

Carolyn Prusa studied literature and creative writing at Stanford University and Boston University. She has written for Savannah Magazine, the Charlotte Observer, and other publications. She lives in Savannah, Georgia, with her husband, two sons, and giant rescue dog, Dale, who looks like a Wookiee
and sings like an angel. Find out more at

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