Aiden has convinced Luke to play rugby, and Caroline has convinced me it’s a good idea to let him. She said letting him rough house with the other boys in a more controlled setting might be a good idea – I’m not entirely sure that’s true, I think Luke is just a kid with lots of energy and sometimes he’s not that well behaved. I have the distinct feeling that bothers some of the other mums. But Jason is keen on him playing sports and it’s a great way to meet new people.
Friday nights are now rugby training – which basically involves champagne and nibbles for the parents while the kids run around clueless on a paddock. I’m not thrilled about Layla being out in the cold and Jason is never home to take her, but it does force me out of the house and Luke gets some exercise. Caroline always greets me with a huge smile and will not let me watch without a drink in hand. We sit on the club house balcony under an outdoor heater sipping our drinks as the boys play on the field below. The Super 15 is in the background blaring from the bar and the under 6s are wrestling each other while their coaches try and organise something resembling a defensive line. Despite myself it is quite pleasant, (though I had always thought of a clubhouse as a room just big enough to hold club meetings. And maybe a canteen. This clubhouse includes two stories with an audiovisual system, plush couches and a large entertaining deck, not to mention the uniform shop, cooks kitchen and barbeque area.)
“Luke ready for tomorrow’s game?”
“Yes. Uniform sorted mouthguard, head gear, training shirt – all organised?”
“Oh! Yes I bought it last week.”
“And what about you. Are you ready?”
I paused. I knew she was hinting at something but I hadn’t the slightest idea what.
“Um I think so. I have directions to the field.”
“Mmmm. Lower Snobsville. You’re in for a treat!”
“Is the parking difficult or something?”
“Darling we have GPS for stuff like that. I’m talking about the game on the sidelines.”
There it was. I took the bait – part of me wanted to know what she was talking about. “What do you mean?”
“Oh darling. Lower Snobsville is rugby heartland. Dress nice. The mums are always immaculately dressed. We are from the ghetto remember.” She said it with a wink but the intent was clear.
I wondered what she thought of today’s ensemble of jeans and sneakers. Probably the same thing she thought when she saw me wearing it on Wednesday at the pre-school pick up. I had thought that Upper Snobsville was rugby heartland too. The mums were all dressed so beautifully with shiny black leggings, puffa vests and furry hoods. And the boots. Just as I was beginning to feel the sting of autumn and consider trading my thongs in for a nice comfortable pair of heavy duty ugghs these mums were donning designer wellington boots – beautiful tartan patterns often with little coloured rubber bows and thick wedge heels. Perfect for the muddy field and still looking stylish. Since I don’t own a pair (or even know where to look to buy one), I’ve traded my thongs for sneakers instead.
The following Saturday morning I understood what Caroline had meant. Down on the water the open field was picturesque, but freezing cold. We parked between a Maserati and a Porsche which I suppose made a change from the swarm of hybrid black SUV Lexuses of Upper Snobsville. (I’ve often wondered what a herd of Lexuses should be called since moving here…Lexci perhaps?)The parking lot overlooked the beach; a trendy little café already buzzing with rugby parents on one end and a children’s playground at the other.
On the field the boys wore an array of oversized striped jerseys. Some stood and stared at the planes overhead (this particular source of distraction always got an unimpressed look from the sideline) while others swarmed around the ball like a Snobsville mum on a glass of bubbly champagne. The parents stood on the sidelines on opposite sides of the field and I began to understand the divide between upper and lower Snobsville. On our side the mums wore their game day uniform (which was the same as they wore to trainings but with more manicured hair and make-up). Most of the Dads were at work or at golf but a few dotted the sidelines in a reserved silence.
On the other side the women wore heeled knee high leather boots over and expensively tailored jeans with fatigue marks perfectly placed on the thighs. The hair was back and the make-up was perfect. Many wore high waisted leather jackets and bright silk scarves. And then there were the rugby Dads.
Steel Cap leather boots in brown dark blue jeans and rugby jerseys were the fashion. And they made their deep masculine voices heard. “Mason do you think the waratahs stand around looking at the sky during their games? Oliver, eyes on the ball! You look like you belong in the Paramatta 1sts!” That one hurt though I had no idea Paramattta had rugby union teams too.
I was burning with curiousity. “Have you noticed how many Dads are on the sideline over there Caroline?
“Oh yes. The rugby Dads. They are quite a feature of the Lower Snobsville games.”
“My husband works six days a week to be able to afford our home in the ghetto. How do they…?”
She smiled. “Well darling their husbands own the companies our husbands run.”
“Yes. They are living breathing stereotypes here.” It occurred to me that when I first met Caroline I had thought the same thing of her. But I was warming to her charms, and was glad to have her help navigate me through this move. Sometimes it seems like I have come to a foreign country and no one speaks the same language as me.
Luke scored two tries – one over the sideline and one in the other team’s end zone which he argued was completely reasonable because there were people defending his own. Nobody on our side seemed to keep score though one of the older kids asked his mum if they won and she replied that it was six all. “Oh” he said disappointed “We got that score every single week last year.” The other sideline’s parents reported they had won 8 tries to 5 but the boys didn’t really seem to care one way or another.
After the game Caroline invited us to play in the park with some of the other mums, who sat on the benches and gossiped about the other sideline while I listened intently. We enjoyed a sausage sandwich for breakfast from the LSRUGCFU – The Lower Snobsville Rugby Union Football Club Fundraising Unit. After lining up amongst the other rugby parents at the clubhouse I asked the Dad behind the barbeque tongs what they were fundraising for. “We need a new TV for the clubhouse. It’s hard to see the television from one side to the other. So we’re getting a projector for the other end of the bar.” I suppose that makes sense.
I bought myself a sandwich and one for Luke. Where I come from a sausage sandwich is a simple offering – a slice of bread, (two if you’re being generous), with a sausage in the middle. In Lower Snobsville there are an array of options for a sideline breakfast – bacon and egg rolls on ciabatta with barbeque relish, Kofta on a stick with a squeeze of fresh lemon, or lamb and mint sausage sandwich with balsamic mustard on sourdough. All organic meat sponsored by the local butcher. And completely delicious. I cursed myself as I dripped a glob of barbeque relish on my new puffa vest and made a mental note to ask Caroline for some washing tips for artificial fabrics. It cost a small fortune – but it was worth it.