Ali in Wonderland and Other Tall Tales
Ali Wentworth, comedic actress, writer, and wife of media pundit George Stephanopoulos, was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. The daughter of First Lady Nancy Reagan’s social secretary, Wentworth grew up in a family of political journalists. As a child, she found herself “clutching the back of Henry Kissinger’s neck as he hauled me around the deep end of the pool.” Her home was “soiree central” to the Washington power elite.
You might say things haven’t changed that much for Wentworth. As she tells it in her wonderfully funny memoir, Ali in Wonderland:
In 2002 I was knocked up and living back in D.C., a mile from where I grew up. Just how the hell did this happen? And I was married to someone who had a Sunday-morning political talk show. I felt like I’d been punk’d by the universe. . . . I found as an adult I was grappling with more than being at dinner parties where diplomats screamed over me about NATO probing and world market slips. I was now living in the town where, at my age, my mother had been the toast de la ville.
In the intervening years, Wentworth grew up and rebelled. She went to boarding school (Dana Hall), college (Bard), and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, doing improv with Will Ferrell and Lisa Kudrow and appearing in Seinfeld.
She takes the reader on an hilarious tour through her looking glass world. The one time she did not just say no and smoked marijuana was before a dinner party at Harvard’s elite Porcellian Club. “I only took two drags,” she remembers, “but that was enough to make me believe I had permanently morphed into Bob Dylan.”
As a teenager, she spent part of a summer in Spain, living with a “jolly (read obese) bunch who looked like a photo stretched to panoramic view.” She recalls that she ate right along with them:
Dinner was like an all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet. There were potatoes baked in fat. Meat baked in fat. Fat baked in fat. After every third bite my Spanish father would hold up a goatskin sack and pour sangria down my throat. . . . The next morning I woke up with what I thought was double vision from a throbbing hangover. I hallucinated a Spanish rave of people in my bed. And when I rolled over to stop the pain and got my right eye to focus, I realized this was, in fact, the case. I was in a bed full of Spanish people. Contrary to my assumption that I’d have an ounce of privacy, I did not have my own room: I shared it with Jose and the three gaseous sisters. To this day, when my husband accidentally touches me during the night, I sit up and scream, “dios me ayuda!” (God help me.)
Now a mother of two, she is blunt on the wonders of childbirth. “I decided men should pace in another room while women gave birth. . . . Yes, you put the baby in, but if you can’t get the baby out, go to the commissary.”
Ali in Wonderland is a laugh-out-loud funny look at life from a gifted comic writer.
Ali in Wonderland is available on amazon.com and in your favorite New York bookstores.