I approached the wine bar with some trepidation. I had dropped the kids off with Kristen early and Caroline was going to be late because of Madison’s dress rehearsal, and that meant the possibility of small talk with Brita, Elizabeth or worse Linda, which was terrifying.
As I entered I saw Linda sitting neatly on an oversized lounge with a glass of champagne in one hand, peering intently through her glasses at a piece of paper in another. She looked up and smiled grimly at me as I steeled myself and readied for the inevitable barbs she would throw my way.
“Oh, you look nice dear.” She said, barely looking up.
“Uh, thanks. You too. What’s that you’re reading?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. The firm has been a bit demanding and nanny is finding herself a little overworked. So I’m looking for extra help. What do you think of the letter to the agency so far?” I blinked, surprised she was asking my opinion – anyone’s opinion really, but especially mine.
I scanned the letter. “So you’re looking for someone to help out with Kingston?”
“Yes dear. Nanny does 40 hours a week but work is a little less part time than it used to be. I need more help.”
“Oh. Someone who can ‘make play educational.’”
“Oh yes. Of course. Kingston, he’s very bright. He needs his brain exercised constantly.”
“Yes, I know. And she…or he… needs to be able to ‘do crafts and be creative with activities?’”
“Of course. And she darling. Definitely she.”
“Plus she needs to follow a strict disciplinary routine and have excellent organisational skills?”
“Yes. And don’t forget the part about being bilingual. So important.”
“Um, how many days is Kingston doing at prep?”
“Five. You know, because he needs the extra stimulation.”
“So, the two nannies? What hours will they do?”
“To be honest dear, I need as much help with the house as I do with Kingston. Twenty hours I worked last week. There’s a mountain of washing to do – his Ralph Lauren for Kids stuff has to be washed by hand you know – and the cleaners are doing a terrible job at the moment.”
“But he or, I mean she needs to be bilingual?”
“Of course. All the good nannies are.”
“Hmmm. Well, I think it’s a wonderful letter. Sounds like you need Mary Poppins!”
Linda looked at me like I was suggesting she skip Tuscany this Summer and holiday at the Coast City Caravan Park instead. Without a nanny. Thankfully, the door burst open and in came Caroline, smiling from ear to ear. She motioned to the bar tender for her usual Prosecco and put up two fingers before sauntering over to our sofa.
“What? Oh yes. Madison is a star in the making. Anyway. You’ll never guess what!”
“Marley dear, don’t be so-“
“Oh come on, just tell us. Stop dragging it out.” Linda had put her letter away in her prim looking brief case.
“Okay, well. We were at rehearsal today and Sienna’s mother Tracy wasn’t there. The girls were talking and apparently, she’s been arrested !”
“What?! What for?”
Caroline’s face became solemn. “Oh, it’s such a shame. I do wonder about poor Sienna sometimes. Did you know her husband is a builder? I should have known they couldn’t afford that house, and the horses and the Mercedes-“
“You know Caroline, I think he owns a construction company. I don’t think he’s actually a builder.”
“Marley, I hardly see the distinction.” Caroline rolled her eyes at me.
“Builder’s can make a fair-“
“Yes yes, can we get on with the story? Wait, don’t tell me…” Linda was getting in on the act now too. “She was a high class hooker? Earning a fortune off all the desperate Snobvillian men?”
“Oh Caroline, what would be better than that?” I was quiet watching Linda. Perhaps her usual frostiness had been thawed by her champagne. On closer inspection, I noted she was beginning to slur her speech. I wondered how many she had before I got here as she motioned to the bar tender for another.
“You’ll never believe it. I mean, they have that huge place in Lower Snobsville, she has half a dozen horses in agistment at Thunderton Ridge, all three kids have their own nanny – I should have known it wasn’t all on a construction salary.”
The bar tender approached and handed Caroline and I a drink then made his way around to Linda, who admired his sculpted arms appreciatively. I had heard from Caroline that the wine bar had employed only well-proportioned young males to work here in an attempt to attract Snobvillian mums. It seemed to be a good business decision.
“I do love the scenery here.” She whispered to us as she stuffed a hundred dollar tip in his belt. Caroline raised her eyebrows and ignored Linda.
Brita and Elizabeth arrived and were taking their time putting in an order at the bar. Brita twisted her long blonde hair around a finger as she spoke while Elizabeth looked increasingly bored.
“So if she’s not a madame-“
“It’s drugs! They seized hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of pot!”
We both gasped and I sensed Linda suddenly sobering up. “Marijuana? Oh dear. Those poor children.”
“Yes I suppose. And she has to stay in there for days until her bail hearing.”
Another gasp. “In prison? Oh my.”
“Yes, I mean, they have their own private chef and as we speak she’s eating spam and crackers for dinner!” Caroline’s voice waivered with excitement. “She was keeping it all at Thunderton Ridge. A stable hand tossed a cigarette too close to the hay bails and there was a small fire. It was quickly contained, but the some of the, um, product was burned and apparently the horses got high off the smell! Some neighbours recognised the stench – bunch of hippies up there you know – and dobbed her in!”
Later in the evening Caroline and I watched Linda stumble into Elizabeth’s car.
“You know Marley, Kristen’s boyfriend, the lifeguard, he’s her nephew.”
“Really. I thought he was from, I don’t know, west of here?” I was suddenly reminded of the day I first met our neighbour on the front lawn and mentally thumbed through the Acronyms I had learned. If I am a SNOBbie, I suppose that makes him a WOH.
“Yes, but he stays in the mansion so he can be close to the beach for work. When he’s not having sleepovers at our house I mean.”
“They had a little party in Kristen’s wing. I heard them opening the window several times last night. Did nothing for the smell though. It’s pretty distinctive.”
“Really? And you’re okay with that?”
“Please. Have you never tried it?”
“Well, they left some brownies in her kitchenette this morning. The kids are asleep and Jason and Brian will be no fun at this time of night. Feeling hungry?”