“What does it say?”
“I don’t know Brita, I haven’t opened the magazine yet.”
“I want to know what she said about me. You know girls, we could all be famous soon! Maybe they’ll want to do a Real Housewives Series on us?”
“Oh God I hope not.” That was Caroline. “Besides I have a feeling Linda will feature heavily. And there’s nothing real about her.”
The Snobvillian response to a veiled, (or no so veiled in this case), insult still amused me. It was as if by muffling their laughter behind perfectly manicured hands, somehow they weren’t a party to it. Of course they were. Wholeheartedly. But Snobvillian women don’t like to get their French polished hands dirty. They tend to be much happier laughing politely and barely audibly at someone else’s SNOBbieness than being the owner of such a comment. Caroline, however was always happy to oblige them.
Porshia Bestley had met us at Caroline’s home for a ‘brief in depth interview’, (which in itself was entertaining). She had wafted in as if she was carried on a chariot, looking every bit as high maintenance as her subjects – all lip gloss, smooth blonde hair and perfume. Her bubbly voice carried through the entrance way to where we sat nervously awaiting her. I was decidedly uncomfortable at the thought of being studied, not being entirely comfortable with my new surrounds even now – months after our arrival.
She gave us a quick introduction, her voice lilting between best friend and aspirational bubblegum hipster journalist. She was here to ‘uncover the truth about Snobsville’s elite’ and ‘understand the daily challenges of Snobvillians.’ Like most days, my biggest daily challenge was deciding what to wear. My second biggest was deciding what to wear again after Layla had thrown up on me as I left for Caroline’s house. Luckily for me, the incident meant I was just fashionably late enough.
There was something about Porshia’s voice that made me feel like she was cocking her head to one side a lot. As if she was really trying to take us seriously. Or really trying to understand the big words we were using. After listening to Sarah talk for a little too long about her exercise regime and renovations, she nodded sympathetically and muttered, ‘Hmmmm…as she wrote something in her notebook.
Of course, much of the focus was on Linda, who had organised the article in consultation with Elizabeth. She had needed a group of friends for the interview, (a gaggle as it were), and despite their growing discontent with Linda, the girls were only too happy to be a part of it, despite feigning reluctance. Initially it was to be at Linda’s house, but there was a last minute design emergency, (something about inappropriate cushion choice for a glossy mag). She had called Elizabeth the morning of the interview to move proceedings to her house, but Elizabeth’s cleaners were coming, thus creating the world’s most frivolous first world problem.
Caroline begrudgingly stepped up to the plate when Elizabeth called. I am sure she was thrilled to get a panicked phone call from Elizabeth begging her to host the interview with Yummy Mummy magazine, (which would be featured in print and online). Of course, she was a little put out at the short notice – she would have to have Kristen race up to the market for some seasonal fruits and Guava juice to go with the Champagne in the cellar. She would also have to impose on Kristen to create some stunning canape’s for the photo shoot in her new Thermomix. All this on top of the facial she had booked with her beauty therapist – which in Snobsville are called cosmetic enhancement professionals. Caroline had relayed all this to me after everyone had left, barely stopping for breath she was so giddy with the thrill of it all.
Brita was hyperventilating, so I pressed on.
I skimmed the article, reading pertinent passages as I went, the gaggle wide eyed with anticipation.
“…touching how much these women miss their husbands…Sarah seems to spend a great deal of time with her trainer in an effort to get in even better shape, perhaps preparing herself for his return…” I looked up at Sarah, who had a glint in her eye.
“…then there are the renovations she is undertaking…her list of contractors is long and presents arduous daily tasks…her fencer in particular seems to require her attention daily…” We all paused and stared at Sarah.
“Okay, we all know about Sarah’s handyman-“
“He’s not a handyman!”
“Sounds pretty handy to me…” More muffled laughter behind white fingertips.
“Yes, yes, but what does she say about me?”
“Alright Brita, I’m getting there.”
“For Caroline, the load is lightened by her helpful au pair, who cooks, cleans, organises and babysits, functioning almost as a personal assistant for her boss.”
“Wait, that’s all she said about me? That my au pair is a great cook?”
“She didn’t say she was great.” Elizabeth pointed out.
“Actually, she does. There’s a review of her canapes in here and it says she’s fantastic with the kids.”
“Oh. Well, good thing I hired her then. I could have chosen someone less qualified.”
I sensed Caroline’s disappointment. “Cheer up. If we hadn’t moved the interview, she could have been banging on about Linda’s French cooking, Swahili speaking, PhD qualified tutor.” She barely held back a broadening smile.
“Oh, wait, this is me…um…oh!”
“What does it say Marley?” My face was gradually becoming a crimson shade of chagrin.
“Okay. It says…Marley, (the newcomer), doesn’t say much, but when she does she always refers to her fellow Snobvillians as ‘they’ rather than ‘we’. Despite this, she is deeply entrenched in the lifestyle Snobsville offers having recently hired herself a cleaner and agreeing to take on a new renovation project.”
“Yeah, well, she seems to have you pegged. Do me!”
“What renovation project? Does she mean the tennis court? We’re only having it resurfaced for the capital value. And I just hired the cleaner once, I’m not sure if we’re going to keep her.”
“You should.” When it came to droll comments, Elizabeth seemed to be stepping into Linda’s 6 inch manolos perfectly.
“I haven’t got there Brita. This next bit is about Elizabeth and Linda…best of friends…generous of spirit…charity functions…give back to the community…wow, she really thinks you two are saints!”
Elizabeth leaned in and whispered in a conspiring manner, “She and Linda were friends at university.”
I think I actually did a Snobsville blink. “Porshia went to university?”
“Oh yes dear. She’s very clever. Did a year of law and joined the university press. Then dropped out and found some real success. She’s pretty famous, you know.”
“I know, it’s just…I don’t know how to finish this sentence without being rude about your friend.”
“Marley, she’s quite clever. She may seem light headed, but it’s all an act to get you to trust her and talk openly.”
“Marley! What does it say about me?”
“Oh, sorry Brita. Some lovely pictures of the house, really wonderful Caroline.” Still smarting over her write up, she allowed herself a slight grin.
“Yes. I think the cushions look lovely. Elizabeth, tell Linda I’ll give her the name of our designer.” And she was satisfied again.
“Um, Brita, there’s nothing here.”
“Nothing?!” I swear I saw tears pricking her through eyelashes.
“Oh darling. Maybe they just didn’t want to make you seem stupid?” Sarah was trying to be kind.
We were all quiet for a while. The kids had finally gone into their classroom leaving us alone in the silent playground contemplating the outside perspective the write up offered us all. It seemed Porshia Bestley had indeed bested us, though I wish someone would shine a spotlight on her life and see how she faired. For a brief moment, there were no words spoken as we were lost in our thought processes. (All of us except Brita who stared glumly at the sky).
Ever the optimist, Caroline finally broke the silence.
“Well. We all look fabulous in the photos. The walking group is definitely paying off. Marley, your new jeans are skinnier than ever, and Sarah I can see how much work you’ve been putting in at the gym.”
“Oh, I do home workouts mostly.”
“Yes. Well, I think this remarkable success calls for a coffee and then mani pedis for all of us!”
Like a shotgun blast in the forest, Caroline’s suggestion broke us all out of our reverie.
“Oh, good idea!”
Elizabeth grinned. “Forget mani-pedis. I’ll use my VIP card. Spa Day! My Cosmetic Enhancement Practice offers a fabulous salmon plate for lunch. With seasonal fruits and champers. All very low carb.”
I wanted to roll my eyes and tell Elizabeth that fruits and champagne were almost exclusively carbohydrates, but I was still smarting from the frightening reality the article had juxtaposed against my own self-perception.
Brita was more easily pleased. As we walked away she took the magazine from me and thumbed through it. Stepping into her Mercedes she grinned broadly, and said triumphantly, “Well at least my butt looks great in those capris!”
I had to agree.