Sarah sighed as she approached the waterfront property where Jonathon’s “Welcome to Grammar” school party was being held. Of course, she knew this was less of a Welcome party, and more of a show of perfectly put together force in an attempt to woo the more impressive school mothers and intimidate those perceived less so. She wasn’t sure which side she fell on just yet and she didn’t much care.
“Sarah! Lovely to see you dear.”
“Hi Martha. Thanks for having us.”
“It’s Marta dear. No h. MARTA.” She repeated her name slowly as if Sarah was either deaf or a few muffins short of a care package.
“And this must be Jonathon. Why aren’t you handsome! Lovely to meet you darling. What a smart little suit.” Jonathon looked at his mother with an expression of boredom, and for a brief moment Sarah fought the urge to just let him be rude. Just this once. Marta was already annoying her and she wasn’t yet in the door.
She steadied herself and smiled at Marta. “Thanks Marta. It was a gift from his father from Italy. Ben travels a lot for business.”
“Oh. And will Ben be joining us tonight?”
“No, he’s in Singapore this week.” She half attempted a barely polite smile.
“Oh. For the beginning of school? Oh dear, you poor thing Jonathon. What does he do Sarah? Finance?”
Sarah’s patience was rapidly thinning. “You know, I have no idea. He makes a lot of money.” Marta blinked at her.
Jonathon turned to Sarah with pleading eyes. “Mu-um, why can’t I stay home with Sarsha and Rachel?” Rachel was the family’s long serving nanny. Sarah wished she could stay home with Rachel too.
She smiled at a stunned Marta, more sincerely this time and said “Sorry, he’s tired. We’re tired. Start of school, you know.”
Marta crafted a genuine smile. Her sunny façade, much like her recently botoxed frown lines, (or so it appeared), refused to show signs of wear. Sarah suspected she had one of the harder working cosmetic enhancement specialists in Snobsville.
“You know dear, I have the name of an excellent deportment tutor. If you…or Jonathon…ever need one. Here, have a name tag.” She bent down and pinned it on Jonathon with a sweet smile on her face. “Now I want you to keep this on so you can all learn each other’s names. Reading practice! What fun! Now I’ve had our Head Tutor set up a craft table for you kids. Would you like to learn how to embroider the school logo onto a t-shirt?”
Jonathon looked aghast. “But I thought Tarquin had a Lego room!”
“Oh no dear. Not tonight. In you go.”
Marta was already looking to the next guests arriving. Guests that Sarah didn’t recognise but who looked far more appealing to Marta than she or Jonathon did apparently. Sarah was beginning to understand that she was not one of the intimidating mother’s that Marta was trying to impress.
Inside Jonathon joined the other boys in a conspirative huddle while Sarah scanned for friendly faces. Sarah saw Marley at a table not too far from the bar – why on earth was the bar all the way over in the corner? – and began walking towards her. Marley was always approachable. It was nice having someone slightly clueless in her group of friends. It reminded Sarah that there are always those less fortunate than yourself, and better still Marley was definitely not intimidating.
Linda appeared from the bar with two drinks and headed over to Marley’s table. Sarah steeled herself, her inwardly rolling her eyes. She didn’t know if she had the patience today to deal with Linda.
“Sarah dear. Nice to see you. Bold choice wearing that colour dear. Especially with your skin tone. I envy that you can take so many fashion risks.”
“Hi Linda, Marley. I think I need a drink.”
“Watch out dear. The bar tender is easy on the eye. Is Ben around?”
“Of course not Linda!” Sarah snapped, then turned on her heels and headed to the bar. She was unpleasantly surprised to see there were no seats at the bar. She wanted to sit out of the way and watch for a while before getting involved in Snobsville games for the evening.
Linda wasn’t lying. The young bar tender was very handsome and his shirt was open just a little bt. She bit her lip and reminded herself that this was a school function and she was attending with her son. She had a strict look but don’t touch policy at public events. She would have to find a way to keep looking without being noticed.
The bar tender smiled at her as she approached, and Sarah’s confidence was renewed at the realisation that at least one person thought her bold fashion choice was paying off.
“Hi. Sex on the Beach please. Just the drink for now.”
She tapped her fingers on the bar while he poured her drink. There was no way around it. This was a boring party.
“Great party.” He handed her the drink.
“No. But you make it more interesting.” She looked him in the eye and slowly put her lips around the straw.
“Pull up a chair?”
“Like a bar fly? People will talk.”
“Probably. You don’t seem like the type that would care.”
He walked over to one of the impossibly small tables and grabbed a stool. She obliged, sitting cross legged and sipping her drink.
“Thank you. You’re a dear.”
Another thirst party guest took his attention for a moment so Sarah sighed and perused the room. From her vantage point, she could Paisley with her two step sons walking towards the boys who were in the corner near a locked timber door whispering about something. Scanning further, she saw Tracy and Bree watching Paisley as she walked away from them. As an added bonus she could just make out their conversation, not that she needed it explained.
“She called her Summer? Oh my, how last season.”
“Yes. Seasons are so last season, aren’t they? It’s all about Landmarks now. A girl in Clea’s class just welcomed a baby sister. They called her Opera. After the Opera House.”
“Oh, that’s lovely.”
“Yes. With such a local flavour.”
“Hmmmmm…do you think she’s had surgery?”
“Of course dear. She had an elective Caesar. Probably had a nip and tuck at the same time.”
“She’s not from here you know.”
“No, that much is clear. Listen to her with those children – she’s so loud!”
“Yes. Brash isn’t she. And with such dated dress sense.”
“With all that money she still can’t buy taste.”
“No, dear, you never can!”
Sarah smiled and turned her attention back to the young bar tender. He looked at her out the corner of his eye and smiled a little. Enough to keep her firmly planted in her seat while he serves the increasing line of thirsty Snobvillians. She was beginning to think hers was the best seat in the house. If she strained her ears just a little she could just make out Marley and Linda’s conversation. Normally she wouldn’t care – they were both too sensible to be interesting. But it was such an odd pairing and they were deep in conversation. It intrigued Sarah.
Linda was getting more and more animated as she spoke and it appeared as though she was quite a few drinks ahead of Marley.
“Yes, but Marley dear, he seemed so appropriate back then. Now he just seems old. And boring.”
Sarah smirked. A night in Snobsville doesn’t get much better than this, she thought to herself.
“God hear comes Marta. God she’s annoying. I need another drink.”
“No you don’t.”
“Did you know she’s getting a helicopter for Tarquin’s birthday?” Marta was approaching at lightning speed now. Sarah wondered what it was that finally broke the botox barrier. Linda was unperturbed, and probably pretty drunk. She continued on. “A freaking helicopter? How can I top that!?”
“Marley tugged at her arm as Marta picked up pace and was almost upon them.
Linda sighed. “This party is so boring I wish there were helicopter rides here.”
Marta was trying hard to hide her fury, but they were escaping from her perfect façade with volcanic energy. Sarah was way beyond intrigued now. She was well and truly hooked.
“Marley. Can I have a word?”
“Uh, sure, I guess.”
“Is it about your boring party?” Linda snickered.
“You know Linda, I know you and I are both in the running for class mother. I’m trying to be charitable given your recent indiscretions…”
Linda’s face went pale and it was hard to tell if she was embarrassed or angry.
“So what! So I had a little fun!”
“Fun? You were half naked with a lifeguard drinking from a bottle!”
“It was a pre mixed drink!”
“A pre mixed drink! With a LIFE GUARD! I’m sorry Linda, but you are just not class mother material. I really think it is best if you withdraw your name.”
“What!?” Sarah sighed. She knew it was the right thing to go over and help Marley or defend Linda or something. She didn’t yet want to give up on her bar tender. Where were Caroline and Elizabeth?
“Marta, let me take her outside-“
“Oh no. You’re not going anywhere! You’re trouble making son just raided my daughter’s bedroom for a bobby pin and helped the boys break into the Lego Room!”
“Oh. Why is the Lego room closed?” Marley looked genuinely confused. And perhaps a tiny bit proud. More and more, Sarah realised, Marley cared less and less about what other Snobvillians thought of her.
“There’s a craft table! A school themed craft table! Aren’t you in the least bit concerned at his delinquency?”
“Well, I’d hardly call it that. He just really likes Lego. Don’t all five year olds?”
Sarah knew it was time. The bar tender was the busiest man in the room. She wrote her name and number on a coaster emblazoned with the school crest and pondered whether the other women in the room would think the gesture was incredibly romantic or downright sacreligious. She didn’t care. To her it was almost the most exciting thing that had happened that night.
Sighing, she got up off her chair and slipped it in the tip jar with a wink to the handsome young object of her desire. She felt the usual pang of guilt and then reminded herself it would be months till she and Ben were in the same room together. With one shared gaze, she walked over to Marley, who was trying desperately to stand her ground against Marta, while Linda swayed and threw insults at Marta.
“Come on Linda. Time to get some air.” Sarah helped her friend to the magnificent balcony and cursed Caroline and Elizabeth for their very on trend tardiness.
Marley nodded with relief, and Linda heard her as she walked off.
“Marta, maybe it’s best if we just go…”
“That’s not necessary.” Marta was composing herself without Linda’s heckling. “But please keep your son under control.”
Despite leaving the bar tender behind, Sarah was pleased to get outside, and even more pleased to see a bit of personality from Linda.
“Well Linda. That was uneccessary!”
“Livened up the party though. This party is God awful.”
Sarah smiled, knowing full well she could remind Linda of this moment in the morning. “Oh I don’t know. I’m kind of having fun!”