The Afternoon Walk

Finally things are progressing and I am beginning to feel as though I belong. Part of me doesn’t feel good about belonging here – I will always be the girl from the ghetto. But life, inevitably, moves forward with or without my permission and I must find a home here. With Jason working so much and considering my new role as a stay at home mother, the Snobsville gaggle are an opportunity to connect with the outside world. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be a fully-fledged Snobbie, but I do live North of the Bridge – straight north to be exact – and I can slowly feel myself not-so-reluctantly transitioning from a NOBbie to a SNOBbie.

With that in mind I decided it was time to invite the girls over for a get together. The inspiration had hit me on one of our afternoon walks. Luke, Layla and I meander around the neighbourhood three afternoons a week on the days that Luke doesn’t have prep. It gives me an opportunity to observe other SNOBbies in their natural habitat. Like mothers in understated high heels and perfectly tailored jeans gracefully sweeping their long, slim limbs into black SUV’s as they place Oroton handbags on immaculately groomed passenger seats. Public school kids from the ghetto wondering the trail home in neat uniforms, ribbons and long socks carrying overloaded school bags and musical instruments. Older boys on their way to the oval for rugby training, jostling and laughing loudly to make sure passers-by know they are popular and athletic. And the large black SUV’s on their way home from the school pick up line with well-mannered kids from the Grammar or College perched on the back seat.

Another species of Snobbie we regularly encounter is the older snobbie. These are women usually in their fifties and sixties who have kids that are about to fly the coop or have raised families in Snobsville that have grown up and sprouted their own Snobsville(or other) roots. They are usually found pottering in their front garden, donning white capris and matching floral gloves and boots. I don’t see their husbands in the garden much, and I wonder if they are travelling on business, working long hours or off playing golf. Perhaps they are the older men I often see in coffee shops wearing Lycra on a Saturday morning and sitting proudly next to a road bike. I rarely see the men with their beautifully manicured wives however – which is probably a good thing, because I’m sure I would be to prone to picturing orange doors and Jacuzzis and the aging swingers of south Snobsville. Not a particularly enticing thought, to be honest.

Anyway, one late afternoon before dinner we were following our usual path. I was pushing Layla in her stroller, and Luke was on one of his adventures, commentating along the way. We were crossing a huge torrent, (a driveway), jumping over the poisonous crocodiles, (newspapers that had not yet been liberated by over-zealous residents in an effort to keep a clean driveway), ducking for cover behind thick hedges, (a tree), to avoid the trolls who may turn our bones to dust, (a health conscious Snobsville resident out on an afternoon run). In the distance I saw my neighbour Brooke, who we had exchanged almost polite conversation with on one of our first days here in Snobsville. Luke continued his dialogue, ramping up the drama as we approached our home.

“Mum look! A toxic swamp!” To my horror he had dropped his pants and was relieving himself on one of Brooke’s trees.

“Luke!”

Brooke was not amused. She smiled as though swallowing razors and through clenched teeth said, “Never mind dear. He is an…active boy. Isn’t he.” It wasn’t a question but a precisely directed statement.

“You know, he would get a lot out of Grammar, where my Trenton goes.” Every time I had met Brooke she mentioned her son Trenton and Grammar. There is quite a rivalry between Grammar and College, and the local residents tend to advertise their allegiance at every opportunity. If I decoded this comment correctly, she was insinuating that my poorly behaved child would get a good deal of discipline at the local private school and may in fact avoid becoming an outright hellian. I didn’t want to fuel the tension by mentioning that he would at the very least start his schooling at the local public school.

Luke was still entertaining his own private universe, (with his pants up now), recanting tales of heroics by the mischievous, daring and probably quite dashing Indian Jones, (Himself. I reminded myself to have the conversation again with Jason about Indiana Jones not being suitable for an already rambunctious four year old). He looked directly at Brooke.

“Oh no! The hideous beast is before us! Half hippopotamus, half demon, this evil monster can suck your face off and…”

My hand promptly flew over his mouth though I laughed internally. Very hard.

“How are you Brooke?”

“Fine thank you.” Her manner was suddenly less polite and more forced. She sighed, outwardly annoyed. “You know Marley, you really should find Luke some friends to play with. He appears to be lacking an outlet for all that-“

“Energy?” I was getting a tad annoyed myself. Maybe we both needed an outlet but Brooke’s comments hurt. I can put up with her veiled barbs directed at me, but watching her take on my young son, (who by the way was winning), raised my hackles and I entered into mother hen mode. I smiled and we continued to our house. Not much point pretending to be nice anymore.

As I walked across to our humble home, with overgrown bushes and a leaf-strewn driveway (on the much less expensive side of the street), I considered creating an outlet. I was getting bored, Layla was growing but still sleeping a lot and I could only bring myself to go to the gym once a day. Back home – or where home used to be – we often did beer and chips on Friday night with a few neighbours while the kids played in the yard. Perhaps it was time to bring the ghetto to Snobsville – the real ghetto, a few post codes across and much further West than south Snobsville. Maybe I was brave enough to start a new tradition. Public holiday eve at Marley’s – there was no rugby training the night before a public holiday. Friday night was mostly spent drinking at the clubhouse anyway, so it seemed apt to have something in lieu of training.

I called Caroline.

“Helloooo?”

“Hi it’s Marley.”

“Oh are you calling about what happened to Sarah? Can you believe-“

“No. Let’s get the girls together. Let’s do an after prep get together on Friday.”

“Oh honey. You’re speaking my language. Cocktails at five. I’ll organise some tapas. Now. About Sarah’s pool man…”

 

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