I have a dirty little secret.
Something I don’t want any of the Snobsville Mums to know about.
I’ve been home with Layla for almost four months now and I am beginning to get a little edgy. I was back to work almost immediately after Luke, and have never spent so long out of the workforce. And while we are comfortable financially, we moved here for access to schools – schools that we may need to mortgage an arm and a leg for. Maybe a few extra digits too.
So. With all that in mind I decided to start looking for a part time job. The part of me that still resides several suburbs west and says words like footy and garbo thinks it’s a great idea. But things are changing for me here, and I am beginning to love living in Snobsville. I wouldn’t say I have made lots of friends, but there is always Caroline and more and more I am becoming part of the gaggle. And the tiny part of me that is slowly turning SNOBbie is thinking “what will they think if I get a part time job?”
Of course, I know what they’ll think. They’ll think Jason has lost his job, or is failing. They’ll gossip in hushed tones so I can’t hear but know they are talking about me. Or they’ll wonder if there’s something wrong with me, not wanting to spend every waking moment with my not-so-newborn daughter. Given I will most likely end up in a gym, they may actually assume I’m just trying to get back into shape. Not that I feel particularly out of shape, but this is Snobsville after all. Appearance is, well, not quite everything, but a solid consideration in every important decision.
So while Luke was at pre-school, Jason worked from home for a few hours and Layla slept, I attended my first job interview in many years. It was in a gym in a corporate and residential building in downtown Snobsville. They have a crèche, and I would get a free gym membership.
So, in I went, looking casual but serious. I wore a smart pair of black pants, (which I just fit into four months post baby), some neat gold ballet flats and a button up white shirt. I was hesitant going in, afraid I would see someone I know. I convinced myself this is not the type of gym that the gaggle would frequent. Most clients were from the offices above, or the residential tower, neither of which was a particularly desirable trait for a SNOBbie. Besides, there are no pilates classes and not a lulu lemon yoga pant to be seen.
I walked out pleased with myself, daydreaming about the alone time I just had, and the conversation with an adult in a work setting. I mentally flipped through my iPod to figure out which song I would blast through the stereo on the way home. I was caught up in my own little world for once, and it felt pretty liberating.
I was so involved in my musical fantasy that I almost walked straight into Sarah. Not just Sarah. Sarah and…who was that?
“Sarah!” She blushed and I realised – this was not her husband she was embracing in the lift as it opened.
“Marley! Uh, hi –“ She was lost for words. I wasn’t, but chose to remain quiet anyway.
“What are you doing here?” Now I was on the back foot. I didn’t want her to know my dirty little secret. It was clear she didn’t want to talk about hers either.
“Oh, I was, um – oh, I was at the gym!” Not a lie.
“Well.” She turned to her friend. “Bye dear. See you next time!” She turned and winked at him. Did she know I could see that?
Focussing on damage control, she directed her full attention now to me, (almost full – I’m pretty sure she was checking out his backside as he walked away.)
“Okay. It will have to be quick though. Jason’s at home, and…”
“Is he ill dear?”
“No. Working from home.” I could tell she sensed something was afoot.
We found a little café overlooking the water feature downtown. The winter sun was warm and Sarah was positively aglow.
I was feeling brave. “So…who was that?”
“My tennis coach.”
“Yes. He’s – he’s very, very good. He used to be a pro. Still is if you ask me.”
“He looks very athletic.”
“So. Why were you really in the lobby of that building? You don’t look like you’ve had much of a workout?” She looked me up and down – the Snobsville once over. I was getting quite used to it now, as I was almost always the person that didn’t fit in. Was that another jibe at my waistline, or was I being paranoid?
I sighed. I’m not much of a liar. “I was applying for a job.” I looked at her face for clues of her inevitable inner disdain.
“Oh” Is that all dear? I thought it was something serious!”
“You don’t think its weird me getting a job? With Layla still a newborn?”
“She’s not a newborn anymore dear. Time to get back into shape. You were a personal trainer once, weren’t you? Lots of those around here dear. Plenty of powerful men marry their younger trainers.”
“Oh, Jason is actually the same age-“
“Besides I imagine you want to lose that last few kilos? Seems like a good match?” It was my turn to blush.
“Yes. I suppose it is. Now that Layla’s not a newborn.” Inwardly I rolled my eyes. My secret was safe for now. This didn’t seem like a couple of girlfriends sharing secrets over lunch – this was a fishing expedition. Sarah was trying to figure out what I had figured out about her tennis coach. I decided not to reveal to her that I wasn’t applying for a position as a personal trainer, but for a job on the service desk. That pretty much makes me the hired help.
With nothing to lose, I pushed on relentlessly, the inner gossip in me hoping for something more salacious. “So, your tennis coach trains you in an office building?”
“No dear.” She sighed. She had nowhere to go. She may as well tell me what I already knew and get on with damage control. “We weren’t training today. We were playing other indoor sports.” I smiled, knowing full well she couldn’t bring herself to utter the vulgar truth out loud. She was having a sordid affair, the type Snobsville mums who are walking clichés have with their personal trainers and yoga coaches. The kind that makes hearts race as they whisper the news in the playground at school pickups.
She smiled. “So. We know each other’s juicy, dirty little secrets.”
“Yes. I want to get a job and you are having an affair!” It didn’t really seem like the secrets balanced each other out somehow.
She suddenly laughed and shook her head. “Oh darling. That’s not my secret!” I must have looked confused, and I could tell she was deciding whether to let me in on the joke.
“My secret, dear,” she looked around furtively, “is that I’m having an affair with a man who lives in an apartment building! It’s positively pedestrian! No matter. Your secret’s safe with me.” She winked again and I sensed a playfulness I hadn’t noticed around the rest of the gaggle.
I couldn’t help but smile back, partly at her vanity, and partly at the fact that I had made another ally. Caroline would be proud.