Ada’s Rules, by Alice Randall
In ADA’S RULES, readers will find a kindred spirit in the book’s heroine, a woman who is at a crossroads in her life – she fears that her husband, the beloved pastor of Nashville’s Full Love Gospel Tabernacle, is having an affair. What’s more is Ada is so busy taking care of those around her – her two grown daughters, elderly parents, and the kids at her day job – that she loses herself. An invitation to her 25th anniversary college reunion is a game changer for Ada. She takes a deep look in her physical and spiritual mirror and decides that she wants to get back to the Ada who was once happy, fit and fabulous. As a result, Ada establishes “Ada’s Rules: Fifty-Three Perfect Rules for an Imperfect but Excellent Health and Beauty Revival.”
Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing
Ada departed the island of fat as she arrived: with little fanfare and for her very own reasons. Edited, she was still luscious. Thin again is not simply thin. The journey had begun in the usual way. She was approaching a twenty-fifth college reunion, where she would see the man who got away, a man Ada hadn’t seen in twenty years.
If that had been all, she might have dieted for a week, then figured out a reason not to go to the reunion. She did not wish to show herself to that par tic u lar man a hundred pounds heavier than she had been when they were in love. But that was not all.
She coveted, wanted back, her young brown body, and she mistook that for wanting back her young brown beau. It was a serendipitous mistake, and she went with it.
She began a diet and made an appointment to discuss gastric bypass. She liked backup plans. She didn’t exactly want to go under the knife. But truth be told, she wasn’t completely repulsed by the idea of being passively sculpted into someone more acceptable. All her other necessary conformity had been achieved by too much hard work.
She had thought she was too tired and too old for hard work. But the invitation had arrived, bringing with it a renewed willingness to go for it, even if she didn’t get it, be it a smaller size or a new man.
It startled her to discover hidden within her half- century heart a spirit of conquest. She did not numb herself to that spirit’s flutterings. She embraced them. They were all she had to embrace.
Lucius was gone. Lucius was always gone. Lucius was her husband, and he lived at work. If Lucius had been present, she might have embraced him. But he was not. Ada was lonely.
To be different, she had to do di* erent. She knew this. So many times she had warned her daughters, “Crazy means keep doing what you’ve been doing and expect a different result.”
She wasn’t crazy. She was ready to work. She called the number in the bariatric surgery ad. She punched in the digits, hoping that she wouldn’t need surgery, but wanting to be prepared if the pounds proved unmovable. She left her name and address on a recorder with a request for brochures.
She would be fit and fifty. She would not succumb to mammydom, or mommydom, or husband- come- undonedom. She would have change.
And she would have it in a relative hurry.
The day she committed herself to her goal was in every sense an ordinary day. Just as on every other weekday, she read her mail late in the afternoon, when she first came in from work. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, this meant when she came in from KidPlay, the day- care center where she was found her, director, and chief baby changer. Tuesday and Friday, this meant when she came in from tending her increasingly helpless parents. She liked to face the mail before she showered of the germs and finger paint of small children, and the drool and piss of old people.
Most of the mail was bills and pleadings and invitations. She liked to read the bills and begging letters with her out- in- the world armor on, gray Juicy sweats and a Burberry raincoat. By the time she got to the invitations, her coat was off, she had washed her hands, and she had a sip of cola in her mouth. The trials of her day were over. Tribulations would come again with the sun, but well- earned rest came with the dark. She usually saved the most promising envelope for last. This day, that was a thick navy envelope edged in silver. The colors of her alma mater. Hampton. She tore open the envelope carefully, overwashed hands wielding a tarnished silver knife.
First the announcement of the reunion, then more. With a long, bold stroke, the chairman of the reunion had struck out his typed name and written, in royal blue ink, “Honey Babe” and “It’s been too long.”
Half an hour later, as the shower water sprayed down on her shoulders, she replayed the moment of opening the letter, seeing then decoding the scrawl over and over again: “Honey Babe, it’s been too long.”
The words had tickled. Matt Mason didn’t talk like that. But he had. Now. After twenty- odd years, a pen- on- paper wink. And it came from her first love. It came from the first man she had shown her body to. A sound between a chuckle and a giggle, a sound she had not made in a de cade, had percolated up from her bronze throat and out her plum lips. That gut laugh emboldened her. She laughed again in the shower, remembering.
The shower ended. Old age was coming. Night was coming first. She stood naked before the full- length bathroom mirror.
She gazed at the ass in the glass. She didn’t want the body she saw.
This body was largely unknown to her. She had never pushed this body to its limits of exertion or its limits of plea sure. She had rarely looked at it. She shivered at the unfamiliarity of her own fat, flesh, and skin.
She had twelve months to get a body she might want to see, want to know, want to show, want to share. Time enough.
She took the first steps as many take them— with high hopes. At the outset of a journey, there is nothing unusual about high hopes. The unusual would come later, after she stayed on the path long enough to discover, when she had walked it to its end, when she wore single- digit sizes again, that journey’s end was nowhere near where she thought it would be.
The day she set out, she felt virtuous. There was no one to warn Ada Howard, First Lady of the Full Love Gospel Tabernacle, wife of Preach (otherwise known as Lucius Howard), mother of the twins, Naomi and Ruth, and ninth- generation Nashvillian, that the path she was walking was more dangerous than she could have imagined when she cracked the spine of her new Moleskine journal and wrote, “My Diet Book.”
About the Author
Alice Randall is the author of The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada’s Rules. Born in Detroit she grew up in Washington, D.C. As a Harvard undergraduate majoring in English she studied with Julia Child as well as Harry Levin, Alan Heimert, and Nathan Huggins. After graduation Randall headed south to Music City where she founded Midsummer Music with the idea she would create a new way to fund novel writing and a community of powerful storytellers. On her way to The Wind Done Gone she became the first black woman in history to write a number one country song; wrote a video of the year; worked on multiple Johnny Cash videos and wrote and produced the pilot for a primetime drama about ex-wives of country stars that aired on CBS. She has written with or published some of the greatest songwriters of the era including Steve Earle, Matraca Berg, Bobby Braddock, and Mark Sanders. Fournovels later, the award winning songwriter with over twenty recorded songs to her credit and frequent contributor to Elle magazine, is Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University. She teaches courses on Country Lyric in American Culture, Creative Writing, and Soul Food as text and in text. Randall lives near the University with her husband, a ninth generation Nashvillian who practices green law.
To order Ada’s Rules, go to http://www.amazon.com/Adas-Rules-Sexy-Skinny-Novel/dp/1608198278/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336090829&sr=8-1
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