Praise for Grannie Panties Are Under Rated
GRANNIE PANTIES ARE UNDER RATED Excerpt:
May 18, 2017
“Hi, Mrs. Martin!” Tabby waved enthusiastically to Elle. Smiley face, smiley face. Four’s girlfriend spoke with such animated emotion, it seemed like everything she said ended with a corresponding emoticon.
Elle waved back as she walked into the crowded stadium. She liked Tabby. She was a genuinely sweet and perpetually happy girl. She hand-painted fairies and flowers onto children’s clothing and sold them at the Junior League Holiday Bazaar, donating the proceeds to St. Jude’s. Tabby was also pretty in the lithe, wholesome, horseback-riding, patrician sort of way Elle so admired. She would go to a good college, major in art history or French, study abroad, and get an internship at a trendy gallery in the city before marrying.
Tabby would always know what to wear.
She was perfect for Four and just the kind of girl Win should have married.
Tabby skipped toward Elle. Along with the de rigueur out-of-school Country Day uniform for females of black lululemon yoga pants and Ugg boots, she wore Four’s #4 away jersey. She hugged Elle, careful to avoid smudging the 4 she had painted in red on her cheek. “It’s so good to see you!” Row of pink hearts. Tabby stepped away from Elle and frowned. “My mom told me about your tennis match. Is everything okay?” Furrowed brow emoji.
Elle wasn’t surprised that news of the argument at the tennis match had already made the rounds. She ran in a small social circle; it had been Tabby’s mom who had sought advice on the color scheme for her Range Rover at Jane’s house that morning.
Although sure Tabby’s concern was genuine, Elle didn’t have it in her to talk about all the bickering. It seemed pointless. She swatted her hand in the air casually. “Oh, it’s fine. Nothing to worry about.”
“Oh, good!” Smiley face. Tabby looked around and then lowered her voice asking, “Did you hear about Thatcher? It’s such a huge bummer.” Frowny face, frowny face, face with a tear drop.
Thatcher’s suspension was another issue Elle had no interest in discussing, so she didn’t answer. Instead, knowing Tabby was easily distracted and not the type to dwell on anything negative, she changed the subject. “Aren’t you glad the weather is so nice?”
“Yes! I’m so glad it didn’t rain! But still, I’m sooo nervous for Four!” Wide eye emoji. Thatcher’s fate temporarily forgotten, Tabby jumped up and down, rubbing her hands along Elle’s arms. “They can do it, right?” Nervous face, hands in prayer.
“Yes! They can. I have a good feeling about this game.” Elle was confident; she had heard “We Are the Champions”—there couldn’t have been a clearer sign predicting victory. She patted Tabby on the arm reassuringly. “Go on ahead with your friends. I’ll see you after the game.”
“Okay. My stomach is just in knots!” Face with tongue sticking out. Tabby offered Elle another quick hug, waved good-bye, and ran to catch up with her friends. Just like the women on the tennis court earlier that day, Tabby wore her blonde hair in a high ponytail. Adorned with navy and red ribbons, it bounced with youthful optimism as she ran off.
Yes, Tabby was a happy girl. How lucky for her. She would continue to make dream boards and end every text to Four with smiley face and heart emojis. In a few years’ time, she would be debating the merits of varying color schemes for a new European car of her own.
Could Elle be happy in the same way Tabby was? If she had grown up in a house with a pediatrician dad and a nurse mom, would she have been one of those girls who used a red sharpie to decorate white boxer underwear with hearts for her boyfriend? If Jimmy hadn’t died and her dad hadn’t left, would she have spent her free time making mixed tapes for friends with each song title written in a different-colored pastel pen?
It didn’t matter, not anymore. What was important was that Elle’s children wouldn’t look back at their own childhoods and wish they had had more.
Elle continued into the stadium and saw Regina Moore, one of Brynnie’s favorite teachers. Elle often sought out Regina’s company at school events. She was kind, smart, and interesting to talk to.
“Hi, Regina, it’s so nice of you to come tonight.” Elle was impressed that Brynnie’s teacher had made the effort to come to the game. She couldn’t imagine that Regina was an avid sports fan. She was too earthy, too academic—someone who didn’t own a TV and spent her weekends reading the classics with a steamy cup of Earl Grey tea.
“Well, I admit I don’t know much about lacrosse, but I wanted to be here to support my students.”
Of course. Elle knew there was a good reason why she was drawn to Regina. She was genuine; a person who actually gave a shit about others.
Regina took in the atmosphere. “What a glorious evening it is.”
“Yes, it is!” Elle nodded in agreement. Wanting to demonstrate a sincere gratitude, she placed her hand in Regina’s and said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you how much Brynnie is enjoying your class on postmodern feminism in fiction. She was really moved by . . .”
“Hey.” Elle was interrupted by a gruff voice. Ward Johnson, her tennis partner Kit’s husband, entered the conversation, nodding his head slightly toward Regina and half-hugging Elle, his hands otherwise occupied with a hamburger and a soft drink.
Elle couldn’t stand Ward. He was an ass. An unapologetic social climber and pompous blowhard who thought he knew everything. He was the type of guy who took his job as president of the Homeowner Association for his gated community very seriously. He walked around with a clipboard and sanctimoniously noted every errant weed and every trashcan left on the curb overnight. Ward had fat sausage fingers, and seeing the hamburger in his chunky hands momentarily reminded Elle of her empty stomach and how hungry she was.
Ward lifted his drink in the air and talked with his mouth full. “I can’t believe this situation with Thatcher. It’s ridiculous! I was on the phone with the headmaster all afternoon. He wouldn’t budge.”
Not for the first time, Elle wondered if Ward suffered from some sort of disability which stymied his ability to read social situations. How else to explain his habit of blurting out inappropriate comments? Did he honestly think it was acceptable to bring the situation with Thatcher up in front of a teacher? What did he expect her to say? Strange how a man with an MBA from Harvard could lack such tact.
Elle was unsure how to respond. She offered a half-hearted smile—seeing Ward’s mouth full of hamburger had at least killed her appetite. Regina said nothing.
Oblivious to the awkward position he had put them both in—or maybe he knew and just didn’t care—Ward took another bite of his hamburger and directed his attention toward Regina. “I want to talk to you about Easton’s grade on his paper—a C? C’mon! I read that paper. It was an A paper.”
There it was again; something really must be wrong with him. Elle fidgeted uncomfortably.
Regina seemed slightly taken aback by Ward’s abruptness but rebounded quickly. “If Easton wants to make an appointment, I’d be happy to go over it with him.”
Still chewing with his mouth open, Ward shook his head. “Here’s the thing: he needs an A on that paper.”
Elle was sorry for Regina and the ambush. She should try to diffuse the conversation, to help Regina out somehow, but she couldn’t. As strongly as she had wanted to flee the tennis court earlier, Elle needed to get out of there. Quickly.
“Oh, I see Brynnie. I need to go talk to her,” Elle lied.
Ward, still focused on Regina and clearly unconcerned with Elle, waved his fat sausage-fingered hand dismissively toward her and continued, “Seriously, he deserves an A.”
Elle mouthed the word “sorry” to Regina as she turned to leave. Regina gave her a nod indicating everything was fine and turned toward Ward with a conciliatory gaze.
Elle didn’t know how Regina, or any of the other teachers, abided such poor behavior. Country Day parents could be total nightmares.
Earlier that week, Aubrey had complained to the headmaster about a math teacher after Grayson had failed his latest calculus test. It simply wasn’t possible for her son to get an F; either it wasn’t a fair test or the teacher hadn’t properly explained the concepts. Aubrey had first talked to the teacher, and when she wasn’t satisfied with the answer he gave—something along the lines of “Perhaps Grayson should have rechecked his work for mistakes”—she decided to go above the teacher’s head, straight to the headmaster. Aubrey would be heard. Grayson would be allowed to retake the test.
Although Elle could—and did—helicopter parent with the best of them, Four’s and Brynnie’s grades were not among her neurosis. She didn’t obsessively track her children’s progress online, fretting over each assignment that wasn’t given an A. Elle trusted the Country Day teachers to be fair and refused to indulge any complaints regarding the types of assignments given or their resulting grades. Given all that her children had, it seemed rather trite and petty to complain.
Elle was considering the possibility that she liked the teachers more than the parents at Country Day when she spotted Brynnie in the concession line with a group of friends. She waved her over, and Elle was surprised to see that her daughter also had a 4 painted on her cheek. Tabby must have been behind this—Brynnie wasn’t one for unabashed displays of school spirit.
As if to temper her nod to convention with the face paint, Brynnie eschewed the navy and red logoed Country Day shirts of her classmates in favor of a purple T-shirt with three sets of stick figures on it. The first was a man, a woman, and a child; the second, two men and a child; and the third, two women and a child. In bright rainbow-colored letters across the top it read: “There are all types of families: Love is Love.”
Elle gave her daughter an earnest hug. Normally, she would be worried over what people would say about Brynnie and the statement she was making with the T-shirt, but not tonight. Tonight, Elle was proud of her daughter’s courage, her indifference to what others thought, and her commitment to what she believed. “Hi, sweetie! I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Of course I’m here. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I wasn’t so sure after your argument with Four this morning.”
“That kid makes me crazy sometimes—he can be so ignorant—but I still love him. And besides, I’m quite looking forward to this spectacle.”
Elle was relieved. It gave her hope that Brynnie had also forgiven her. “Have you talked to Jacinda? Is she okay?”
Before Brynnie could answer, Aubrey approached, marching purposefully, like she had an agenda.
First Ward, now Aubrey. Elle couldn’t escape.
Except for her white jeans—apparently, it wasn’t too early to wear white—Aubrey was dressed almost identically to Elle. This should have been incredibly satisfying—it meant Elle had chosen her outfit correctly—but all she could feel at this moment was dread.
Aubrey removed her sunglasses and placed them on top of her head. She reached for Elle’s hands. “Elle! I’m so glad to see you. Are you sure everything is okay? Can I help?”
“Everything’s fine.” Elle’s tone was short. She didn’t feel like playing along.
Aubrey freed her hands and slowly tilted her head from side to side, silently considering Elle for several drawn-out seconds. Without speaking, she turned toward Brynnie and looked over her T-shirt with disdain—or was it confusion?
Brynnie placed her hand soothingly along Aubrey’s arm, the way one would if comforting a child, and explained, “It’s to honor gay rights. I’m sure you’ve read about how the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality.”
Aubrey didn’t respond. Instead, she twirled at the platinum medallions—each bearing the name of one of her four children—on the necklace that hung near her chest. Was this some sort of power play? A subtle reminder that she was superior? She had borne four children. She could afford private school tuition, first-class plane tickets, tutors, and nannies—four times over.
After several uncomfortable seconds, Aubrey finally spoke to Brynnie through a strained smile, “Read? I don’t have time to read!”
“Of course not!” Brynnie put her hands up against her cheeks. “How silly of me! I forgot how busy you are. You had a tennis match today, right?”
Elle was impressed by Brynnie’s quick retort, yet as much as she admired her daughter’s courage, Elle was apprehensive. Aubrey wasn’t one to be crossed.
Sure enough, Aubrey’s retaliation was swift. She cocked her head to the side and pursed her lips. “So, sweetheart, remind me—who is your date to prom?”
Elle’s stomach tightened. Brynnie had never had a boyfriend, let alone a date. Everyone knew that. Was Aubrey implying Brynnie was gay? Elle wanted to say something to protect her daughter, but what?
Brynnie didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the question. “I’m choosing to go alone. I’m independent like that—kind of a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet . . .” She paused, then condescendingly patted Aubrey on the back. “Oh, sorry. How silly of me—since you don’t read, you couldn’t possibly understand the Pride and Prejudice reference.”
Elle tried to contain her laughter. Good for Brynnie.
Aubrey stood speechless, like she had been scolded by a stranger for failing to pick up her dog’s massive dump on the playground—“Aren’t there people for that?”
Smiling, Brynnie kissed Elle on the cheek. “See you after the game!” She walked away, waving her arms high in the air with feigned enthusiasm. “Go, Country Day!”
Aubrey turned toward Elle, eyes squinted in anger. Ignoring phone calls was one thing. Elle had really crossed a line now. Aubrey expected an explanation. An apology.
Elle refused to give in. Let Aubrey say and do whatever she wanted. She no longer cared. Elle offered Aubrey a quick and insincere hug good-bye saying, “I should go. I need to catch up with Win. He’s just closed a major international deal and we have loads to discuss.”
Aubrey’s mouth dropped in shock. She’d have to pick the poop up herself.
Elle walked away, satisfied. She had done it. She had stood up to Aubrey and it was exhilarating.
Still, Elle knew better than to celebrate too much. There would be consequences for her actions; Aubrey would make her pay. She just didn’t yet know how.