The High Tea

“I can’t wait to see her Caroline.” Brita was gushing excitedly. “Marley who did your face today? You look positively aglow!”

“No one. I’m not wearing make up.”

It had been a few months, but there it was again. The Snobsville Silence. Four heads with expressions somewhat resembling the Children of the Corn, turned slowly towards me in a state of shocked stillness.

NONE??” Linda was clearly not impressed with my response. “Who is your surgeon?”

“Oh please Linda. She doesn’t need a surgeon. Just invest in a bigger pair of sunglasses Marley. Donna Karan has some fabulous ones in their new line. It will reduce those tiny little crows feet.”

“I never cover these eyes.” Elizabeth was non-chalant. “Why hide a face like this? That’s why I have a cosmetic enhancement specialist.”

Caroline was becoming noticeably agitated that the conversation had turned from her. “Girls, concentrate. This morning tea is terribly important.”

“Is Madison bringing her friends?”

“Oh no. Last year’s lead got mysteriously attacked at the fundraising high tea. A ‘friend’ of her understudy ‘accidentally” tripped her. She broke her ankle and had to pull out of the performance. Heartbreaking.” Caroline gesticulated with finger parentheses. “Madi is on strict house arrest until she performs. She’s going to school and dance and nothing else! Now ladies, please mingle. Have you got the bank details ready? Don’t forget we’re accepting donations as of now.”

As much as I hated exposing myself to unknown Snobvillians, the high tea gave me an opportunity to listen to some of the more salacious conversations. A mother I recognised from Luke’s class was whispering surreptitiously to a friend. I grabbed a fruit plate and wondered over, milling around and hoping not to be noticed.

“I swear to god. Seriously. One of the Southie mums is a receptionist at the police station. She’s been stealing stuff from the kids bags – you know, Chanel purses, diamond studded hair bands, just little stuff – apparently it’s been going on for years!”

“Is that why she left?”

“Yes. It’s a shame really. She was an excellent principle.” Suppressing a grin, I moved to another group.

“Well, Bree, I know Clea is very talented.”

“Tracy, she won the Lower Snobsville Eisteddfod with very little competition.”

“Exactly. Because Sienna was at the Regional dance camp that day. It’s easy to win when the top girls are competing elsewhere.”

“She would have been at Regional Dance Camp too if it wasn’t for her calf injury during trials!”

“Darling, take it from me. Since we built a new garage and converted our old one to a dance studio, Sienna’s skills have really come on. Mind you, the mirrored walls weren’t cheap.”

“Can I help you dear? Are you with the caterer?” Sprung.

“Ah, no. Just helping Caroline out. Would you like some melon?”

Bree sighed heavily and rolled her eyes. “I don’t eat seasonal fruits darling, especially during capri season. Besides, they are full of sugar.” Her perfect white capris were blindingly well pressed. I looked down at my own pale blue pair which already had a small watermelon stain on them and secretly admired her discipline.

“Anything else dear?”

“No. Oh, well yes. Have you donated yet?”

Tracy looked at me unsympathetically. “No dear. Our daughters are in  the performance. We’ve already paid almost a thousand dollars in costume, booking hair and makeups, tans – this is a private conversation by the way.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“Why don’t you go hit up those two over there. Their daughters are only four. Traditionally that’s who donates.”

“Sure. See you later.” They didn’t respond, but got back to their heated discussion.

I walked over to the two mums Bree had pointed me towards, approaching slowly so as not to disturb their conversation.

“I don’t know Claudia. I mean, she hates red. I don’t understand why the costumes can’t be a different colour!” The woman spoke with an affected accent and pronounced her friend’s name ‘Cloudia’.

“Well, in fairness Melinda, it’s only the wings that are red. All the 4 year olds are wearing white for this year’s performance. To be honest, I’m more annoyed about the trainings so far. They haven’t even started rehearsing and the concert is not even two months away! They are still doing those damn fairy runs. When will they start doing plies?”

“I know what you mean. And Dakota has only been the fairy leader once. It’s insane! Maryanne’s daughter has been fairy leader twice since then!”

“Seasonal fruit?” I felt ridiculous interjecting, but couldn’t stooge around for any longer.

“Don’t they have help for this? Are you the help?”

“No, actually, I just thought the fruit might butter you up a bit to make a nice sizeable donation.”

Claudia smiled. “Oh, sure. Pass me your phone. I’ll put in 5.”

Five dollars was less than I had hoped for. “That’s very generous of you.”

“Come on Claudia – make it an even thousand.”

“Oh okay. It is a good cause after all.”

I turned to Melinda. “And you, would you like to put something towards-“

“Yes. I’ll put in fifteen. Oh what the heck. It’s been a busy flu season. Let’s make it two thousand.” She looked at me slyly. “The advantages of being a doctor’s wife!”

I turned back towards Caroline and gave her a thumbs up. She walked towards me grinning.

“Fruitful day so far?”

“Just made three thousand!”

“Who donated that? Quite a sizeable amount.’
“Oh, it was two mothers. Those ones over there.” I lowered my eyes towards Claudia and Melinda and Caroline looked at me with a kind expression.

“Oh darling. Those two are far too nice. You need to target the really competitive mums. Get them to bid each other up! We’re shooting for a an actual Lake on stage. Have you ever seen Swan Lake dear?”

“No. Ballet is not my thing.”

“Well, it would be wise to make it your thing before Layla turns two. The Ballet Academy accepts talented two year olds, and I suppose you never know. And please, darling, stop handing out fruit. You are not nicely dressed enough to be the caterer.”

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