“So what’s with the puffa vests?”
“What? They’re really warm!”
“Yeah but so are trackies and I don’t see you trotting up to the shops in anything fleece.” Gayle was right. Many times I have secretly coveted a pair of nice fleecy lined track pants, but since moving to Snobsville I’ve haven’t been brave enough to wear any in my house, let alone out in the big bad designer wearing world.
“I suppose you’re right. But look, I’m wearing ugh boots tonight!”
“Hon, those are not ugh boots. They are ‘designer sheep skin boots’. How much did they cost you?” She was reading off the tag on my shoe.
“I don’t remember.” I was borrowing the line from Luke. He used it often when he was in trouble. I knew exactly how much I had spent on the boots. They were Peter Alexander Premium Sleepwear range, and they came with matching gel eye mask covered in pink silk. And they cost $240. She was right, they weren’t ughs. Ughs had holes and worn patches and looked at home with grey marl sweat pants and oversized t-shirts. My designer sheep skin boots actually dressed up my fatigued jeans and puffa vest – (I chose my black one tonight, because I didn’t want to get pizza stains on the white one.) And worse, I had bought the boots especially for tonight. For our girls night in. Thankfully, Gayle’s persistence broke my self-reflection.
“I mean, you have all this money for all these clothes. Your bedroom cupboard is bigger than our bathroom – which is not an ensuite by the way. Why do you all wear the same uniform everywhere?”
I sighed. I had no answer, and as usual seeing Kristy-Lee and Gayle had reminded me that part of me still lived in Neplebian Heights.
Gayle wasn’t finished.
“It’s like there is a school pick up uniform, a café uniform, a walking club uniform-“
“A Saturday morning at rugby uniform.” I always found that the hardest to dress for.
“I haven’t seen that one.”
“You should come and watch Luke play. He’d love it. There’s only one week left of the season.”
“And what will you all do for Friday night drinks then?”
“Then it’s touch football season.”
Gayle and Kristy-Lee giggled.
“So.” They both looked at me expectantly.
“So what? Why are you both looking at me like that?”
“Come on! There must be so much gossip under that perfect Snobsville exterior. Nothing is this perfect.” Kristy-Lee gazed around our living room.
I took a bite of pizza and shrugged. “Don’t know what you mean.”
“Oh come on! That Sarah, she seems like a bit of fun. I bet she has some skeletons.” Gayle was getting in on the act now and I knew I couldn’t hold off for long.
“Not so many skeletons in her bedroom closet, but an awful lot of bones.” I had meant to say it under my breath. At least I think I did. The level of meaningful discussion with other women may have been making me giddy. Or maybe it was the pizza and beer. I hadn’t eaten much except seasonal fruits and canapes, (which seem to pass for a meal in Snobsville), and to be honest I was enjoying the beer a little too much. It suited me much better than proseccio.
In my heart I knew I wasn’t going to try too hard to put the girls off the scent. In Snobsville so much is left tacitly understated, like there was some underlying notion that the more subtle the humour, the more intelligent it’s inventor was. With Gayle and Kristy-Lee my cards were always on the table. It was simpler, and the lack of pretense – the lack of politeness veiling a deep seeded competitiveness or jealousy – was ultimately refreshing.
I sighed dramatically. “Well. You cannot tell a soul. No one.”
They nodded enthusiastically. Very enthusiastically.
“Sarah’s husband works a lot, and Sarah has a lot of friends that keep her company.”
“Well, no, not friends. Sometimes it’s the gardiner, or the pool guy, or the fencer. Once it was her trainer and a few times her tennis coach.”
“She has a trainer AND a tennis coach?”
“Yep. And a handyman who is a fencer. That’s her current, um, friend.”
“Just to be clear here, we’re talking her having an affair?” Kristy-Lee had an endearing way of innocently probing for gossip without interrogating.
“Uh, yeah. Lots of them. I caught her once coming out of an apartment building with her tennis coach. He lives there. There’s no tennis court though.”
“So everyone knows?”
“Don’t think her husband does. Actually I’ve never met him. He’s always away.”
“Wow. What’s Linda’s story?”
“She’s an interesting one.” I wasn’t sure where to start.
“She seems kind of bitchy.”
“Mmmmm. But it’s never out in the open, you know?”
“Well, she’s a lawyer. She has a nanny-cum-tutor for her exceptionally bright son who’s apparently Lego champion of Snobsville or something.”
“Is that a thing?”
“Actually I don’t know. I do tend to tune out when she goes on one of her rants. Anyway, they holiday in Croatia and sail the Med, and only eat organic food that her nanny has grown and cooked herself.”
“What do you mean, grown and cooked?”
“Like the vegetables her Nanny grows in the garden.”
“What about meat?”
“Oh they don’t eat meat.”
“Oh Gawd they probably make their own bread too?”
“Well, no. They don’t make anything, nanny does, and they don’t eat bread either.”
“Wow. No wonder she’s so thin.”
“What’s her husband’s story?”
“Don’t know much about him. He’s older though. And she wasn’t keen on the ‘genetic pool’ on his side. Apparently some of his nieces and nephews weren’t ‘all there’. So she had artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor. Some Nobel Prize winning firefighter or something who donates to starving children and heals the sick in his spare time.”
“Yeah I know. She’s fine really I suppose. Elizabeth seems to think so. Of course if you’re from South Snobsville like me, she thinks you’re a lesser form of humanity.”
“What, this place? This palace? Bring her over to Neplebian Heights, that might give her some perspective.”
Kristy-Lee was not impressed. “I like Neplebian Heights!”
I sighed. “I do too.”
“Big fancy houses don’t make life better you know. Though, I have to say, your house is looking suspiciously clean Marley. You must be bored.”
I changed the topic, unsure of how to broach the subject of my newly hired cleaners. “More pizza?”
“No, I’d better be going. I promised I’d check in on the pub on the way home. Though I’m dying to hear about your friend Caroline.”
“Why? Caroline’s really nice. No gossip there.” We began to head towards the door, which was probably a good thing. My new jeans had fit perfectly when I bought them but after a night of pizza and beer they were beginning to feel a little snug.
“Didn’t she just buy her nanny a Thermomix?”
“Yes. It was a nice thought, don’t you think?”
“Those things are expensive. You pretty much have to sell your soul to own one. Jeez, you Snobbies sure love your purchasing cults.”
“I suppose they do.”
“Marley, what the heck is that?”
“That pastel pink thing shaped like a tiny UFO?”
“Oh. It’s a nutribullet. I’m having smoothies every morning.”
“But it’s pink?”
“Yes, that’s just the colour the lady was selling. They were all pink.”
“What’s next a Tupperware party?
“No!” I made a mental note about inviting them to the Linen Party I was having in two weeks time.
“Okay, well, thanks for the pizza and beer. Oh no – your jeans. They have pizza sauce on them.”
“It’s fine. I’ll just get them dry cleaned.”
“You can dry clean jeans? Never mind. Come by the pub sometime for dinner. Bring the kids.” Something in my gut told me it would never happen. Since getting the Nutribullet I had been making a concerted effort for the family to eat more organically.
Upstairs in my bedroom suite I sifted through my old clothes on the left side of my walk in dressing room. I finally found my oldest, most comfortable pair of fleecy track pants and snuggled inside. Last time I wore these I was pregnant, and they were roomy and cosy and reeked of feeling loved. Of snuggling up to Jason on the couch watching a movie. Of thai takeaway and the wonderful lethargy a pregnant mother of a toddler feels at the end of a long day. Of our old couch, and our old family room.
In our master suite kitchenette I poured a glass of strawberry alcoholic cider from the mini fridge chiller, and plated up the last piece of almost cold pizza. I snuggled on the bed, turned on our smart TV and hoped that my fresh white linen would survive the inevitable pizza stain.
Not long after, I drifted off to sleep and pulled my satin pink gel eye mask over my face. It occurred to me that it didn’t matter anyway – in the event of a pizza mishap, I could easily avoid a design emergency with the help of my linen party planner.