We belong to a casual, low-key country club. We don’t have the golf membership – we have the social membership so the kids can do swim team and so we can eat in the restaurant. I don’t think the pool has been updated since the 70′s. This adds to the relaxed, friendly, “flip-flops welcome” vibe that I love about the place. Also, the lifeguards play Fleetwood Mac, and everybody knows each other.
What irks me are the bathrooms – they’re grotty, the potties are different sizes, and the showers say gas chamber. I’m codependent, as you may know, so when members from other swankier clubs come to us for home meets and have to use our appalling bathrooms, I cringe. Last year, for example, at a home meet, I noticed that the person standing in front of me was Chief Justice John Roberts – watching his daughter swim, right there in his khakis!
I had been enjoying myself until Chief showed up and then I spent the rest of the meet wondering if he was going to have to use our potty – Secret Service would have to go in first, check it out, see how grotty it is, then whisk him off and shut us down, citing a health hazard.
The other clubs in our division are country clubs. Swanky with a capital S. We went to a meet at Chevy Chase (which my kids mispronounce – “Chubby Chase” – I haven’t corrected them) – they have a private ice skating rink, palm trees, a hunting room w. stuffed dead things on the walls, amazing pools…they had heated towels.
I worry about this sort of thing affecting my kids. It goes into my parenting category of Dumb Stuff I Worry About – like when I was on an airplane sitting beside a five-year-old who was annoyed that she wasn’t sitting up in First. I hope my kids don’t turn out like her, but they already have an inkling that the seats up in First are way better than the ones in Coach, where we sit. Now they’re starting to understand that our club doesn’t have an all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae bar, skilled chefs in two-foot-tall hats, and dead animal heads on wood-paneled walls.
I was hoping they wouldn’t notice that our pool is just basically a hole in the parking lot, while Chubby Chase’s is…is…Hotel Disney. Nirvana. But after we had a swim meet there, Fi said: “Why do you think they don’t have heated swim towels at our club?”
I said, “Heated towels are environmentally unfriendly. That’s why at our club we put our towels on the ground and let the sunshine warm them, naturally. It’s better for the environment.”
I have these friends who are members of Chubby Chase. They don’t have kids so when they’re in town they occasionally invite us to the club and whenever they do I feel a little anxious, because of what happened last winter when they insisted on taking us on a tour of the “nice” part of the club. First they took us ice skating at the idyllic, uncrowded ice rink where parents could sit unmolested in the hunt room overlooking the rink, ordering roast beast served by men in the two-foot-tall chef hats, then have a cappuccino and chocolate mousse. They could order a Roy Rogers or some other obscure, vintage cocktail no one drinks anymore except the WASPY people who are actually members of clubs like these, because holy shit where do they get the $100,000 entrance fee to join? Or maybe i’ts $500,000 to join – I’m not really sure.
They took the girls skating in the private ice rink (where they were playing Fleetwood Mac, BTW…I was crushed! I’d pictured muzak, or Barry Manilow, not Fleetwood Mac!).
After skating and “lunching” we went bowling with the well-heeled families – well, minus the parents, because most of the kids were there with nannies.
We saw the “babysitting room” where more smiling nannies watched kids while the parents went to play a round of golf, or have a swim, or talk to the president, or get sloshed on Pim’s Cups or do whatever the very rich do.
Then my friends, who are not codependent, insisted on taking us on a tour of the “nicer” section of the club to see the astonishing bathroom. I do not like to go into swank places when I’m dressed like a stay-at-home-mom who has lost interest in fashion (which is all the time). I was wearing jeans, snow boots, my big stupid Christmas sweater, and Fiona’s Tweety Bird snow hat.
I stopped at the front door and refused to go in because I was having a panic attack and flashbacks. My dad used to drag me into posh places like this against my will – he would be always dressed inappropriately (in his kilt say, or wearing a pith helmet and Bermudas, or worse, his mail-order sky blue pants), and driving one of his rust-bucket jalopies, so understandably, I have a permanent aversion to swank.
“You have got to see the bathroom,” said Michael.
“I don’t have to use the bathroom,” I said, vaguely aware that I sounded like a five-year-old.
“Mommy pleeeease?” begged Ella. “I want to see the marble potties.”
“The toilets are porcelain,” I hissed. “And I’m not dressed properly. Mommy is having a panic attack.”
Fiona: “Couldn’t you have a panic attack after we see the bathroom?”
Me: “We’ll be thrown out. We’re dressed like homeless people.”
“They can’t throw us out. We’re members,” said my friend, pointing out the hedge that she and her friends used to smoke pot behind back in high school before coming inside to use the astonishing bathroom.
A limousine pulled up to the curb, depositing a woman in a ball gown and her tuxedo’d husband at the door – the very same door that my pushy friends wanted me and my Tweety Bird hat to go through. My anxiety level tripled. My kids were starting to hang on my arms and pull at me – their faces smeared with chocolate mousse they’d OD’d on in the hunt room. They were all hopped up on mousse.
Ella: “Please, Mommy? We want to see the swanky potty! I’ll go poo!”
“Could you keep it down?” I said, having more flashbacks of my dad. His funky, rusted dump truck that he drove to a formal occasions “just to make a point that it doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive, it’s your character that matters.”
I let them push me into the lobby, and oh! What a lobby! Astonishing! Beautiful! Mesmerizing!
Instantly, a discreet team of Armani-clad security people descended upon us. I’m assuming it was my awful Christmas sweater that gave me away as not being a member. They were all dressed in black like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. I was starting to sweat – this was my kind of nightmare.
“May we help you?” said one of them. What I heard was: You and the Tweety Bird hat aren’t welcome here.
“We were just leaving!” I said apologetically, turning to leave. My friend stopped me.
“We’re members,” she said, brushing past them. “We’re going to use the powder room.”
The security team kept Michael – who was also dressed inappropriately, like a regular person on a snowy winter night – as collateral, in case we should rush the ball room or something, and melt there.
So hey! We made it into the astonishing bathroom at Chubby Chase. And it was some bathroom. My kids and I ooh’d and aah’d. Ella zig-zagged in and out of every stall, saying: “The potties are all the same size!”
So – I’m uncomfortable in Swanky country clubs. They make me want Xanax. I do best in a casual habitat, a friendly atmosphere like the one at our little club. I don’t care if our toilets smell like port-a-potties, or if our snack bar is a breeding ground for salmonella. We have team spirit, people are friendly, and you can wear flip flops to the dining room without fear of being escorted out by the fashion police.
Linking up with Yeah Write.
You might also like...
Other People’s Parenting
How Not To Plan A Menu
The Plan / What Actually Happened
Excuse Me I Beg Your Pardon But I’ve Had Ample-Sufficiency
The Incredible Randomness of Being