The Tennis Club

“Yes dear. It’s all about black leggings now. They look great with a puffa vest too.”

“And so slimming.”

“Yes, and leggings are not too much work for nanny. They can be tumble dried.”

“True. You are such an altruist Elizabeth.” Brita smiled politely.

“Marley will you stop that incessant noise?”

I stopped tapping my fingers on the magazine sitting on my lap for a moment and looked at Elizabeth. A year ago when I met these women I would have politely apologised and kept my head down. Something was gradually changing in our group dynamic, and as I became more and more of a Snobbie, I had become bolder and less of a wallflower. Plus, today was the first day I had left Layla with our new nanny while I had lunch at the tennis club and I was a little on edge.

“I’m sorry Elizabeth, but didn’t we have this exact conversation a year ago? I mean, I know some things are soooooo last season, but aren’t capris in every summer in Snobsville and out come the first day of Autumn? When leggings become in?”

Elizabeth looked at me through steely eyes.

“We say on trend dear. Or at least those of us over the age of 12 do. And there are subtle differences each season. Which you would know if you ever went shopping.”

“Yes. This season there are zips at the ankle!”

“Exactly Brita.”

“Oh, that IS fascinating! What will that do to this season’s classic boot!” I sensed they missed the latent sarcasm.

Just as Elizabeth was about to respond, Caroline came bustling in. “Oh girls. What a day!”

She looked frazzled. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, thank you Marley dear, I’m fine. Did Luke not tell you?”

“He’s with Sharon, the new nanny. What?”

I caught myself wondering what the little bugger had gotten up to, then remembered I am a supportive mother that believes endlessly in her child. Or something.

“Oh. He and Aiden went into the out of bounds area at lunchtime at school to climb a tree.”

“Oh My! Climb a tree? Good Lord, they’re not animals are they?”

My defences rose just a little from the pit of my stomach and I snapped at Elizabeth. “No, they’re children who like to climb trees.”

“Yes, yes they climbed a tree. Anyway, Aiden fell. He needed stitches!”

“Oh no, is he okay?”

“Yes dear, I’m sure he is. Kristen has that all under control.”

“She’s with him?”

“Yes. At Snobsville Private.”

“Oh. So why are you so flustered?”

“Well, darling, I’ve been trying to get on to my specialist for a consult.”

“Your specialist?”

Caroline rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. “Yes. My cosmetic enhancement specialist.”
“Botox emergency?” Elizabeth sneered.

“Not for me! For Aiden. To make sure he doesn’t scar. You know I don’t need enhancement.” Caroline did imperious better than anyone in Snobsville.

“So why do you have a specialist then?” Brita looked confused. It occurred to me that while Elizabeth possibly practiced her resting bitch face in front of the mirror, Brita’s resting confused face was just part of her charms.

Caroline, ever the master of the subject change, was unperturbed. “Will you look at that.”

“What?”

“It’s Marta.”

“Yes, so?”

“Marta and her ladies Golf Team.”

“Oh.”

“In our tennis club lounge.”

Caroline wasted no time at all. “Helooooo! Marta? Come and sit with us dear.”

“Oh. Yes hello Carolyn. Ladies.”

“CaroLINE was just telling us about your little golf team.”

“Oh yes. Every Friday we play.”

“Hmmmm. So what are you doing here on a Friday then?” Caroline’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you considered tennis to be, how did you put it, a lesser display of fine motor skills than golf?”

Elizabeth chimed in, “Oh yes. The sport that mannish women play.”

“Or those that can’t afford a real membership?”

“Or those that aren’t skilled at the finer details of a real sport?”

“And don’t forget ladies that play golf perspire. Women that play tennis sweat like wilderbeasts.”

Marta’s lips made their best efforts to turn slightly up at the corners, though it appeared as though every muscle in her face was dragging them fiercely into a frown.

“Well, yes. I still consider golf to be a far more ladylike pursuit than tennis. Though your friend seems to be enjoying spending time with her tennis coach over there.” Sarah was deeply entrenched in a conversation (and glass of champagne) with the new and very young male tennis professional.

As we turned our heads, Marta and her friends giggled.

“And yet here you are. All the way up in upper Snobsville. Far away from the Lower Snobsville Golf Club.” Caroline’s face gave nothing away.

“Well dear you may not realise it, but being proficient at golf, or indeed more than proficient, requires a great deal of time and patience. With my lifestyle blog taking up so much of my time – it’s very successful you know – I just don’t think I am doing my game justice at the moment. So we’ve temporarily switched to tennis. A lesser sport, and therefore more time efficient.”

More so than all the women in Snobsville this woman got under my skin the most. “Isn’t golf a game for the more mature lady? Are you sure you and your little team are up to it?”

Marta sneered at me. “Marla is it?”

“Marley dear.”

“Yes well. Marley. I assure you my athletic prowess is not under dispute. I’m quite capable. I just don’t like to be gauche enough to rub it in everyone’s faces.”

I mustered my best resting Elizabeth face and powered on. “Goodness. All that without sweating. And in matching outfits too. How…quaint.” I turned artfully to the Vogue magazine on my lap. Caroline was beside herself with pride, I noted out of the corner of my eye. My first Snobbie showdown.

I couldn’t help it. I looked up briefly to look at her face. Marta appeared as though a volcanic steam may at any moment come bursting out of the top of her head. I thought I heard her muttering under her breath “Rise above Marta.” But I was intentionally keeping my eyes downcast to appear as though I wasn’t paying attention.

“Thank you. I had the outfits commissioned by Lulu Lemon. They advertise on my site. You know, look like a team, play like a team of champions.”

I wondered if they were entering the Friday social comp. “See you on the court.”

“I’m sure we will dear.”

She sauntered off with her team, none of whom had opened their mouths during the whole exchange.

“Marley, you’re quite good at tennis dear?”

“Yep. Played division one until Layla was born.”

“Good.”

“Yes. We’re entering a team.” Caroline smiled at me in the same way a mother smiles at her son as he graduates from Snobsville Grammar with academic excellence awards. For the first time, it didn’t feel as though she was condescending to me. It felt like I was one of the team.

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