The Sydney vs. Hawthorne soccer match is the setting for our first scene this week. Outside the stadium, Lydia phones Jackie to investigate of an imagined slight from Gamble and Gina at the latest dinner party. Jackie implies that they were smirking and ridiculing Lydia while she was sharing her tragic story of losing her newborn son. C’mon! I refuse to believe that – even amongst this spangly nest of vipers – no one would roll their eyes a child’s death. But psycho…ahem, psychic Jackie eggs Lydia on. “I really want to get to the bottom of it,” Lydia declares. Moments later she’s air kissing the gals, who ask her if she is rooting for Sydney – a reasonable assumption since she’s wearing their colors: white and red. Poor, simple, confused Lyds missed the memo – “No! That’s just my fashion!”
Gamble calls Lydia “S&M Barbie” and Lydia – who normally never misses a chance to serve the pervy talk – claims not to know what it means. “Is it ‘sexy mama’ or what?” Puhlease! Drop the innocent act. I’m pretty sure 50 Shades of Grey penetrated the Planet Toorak demographic. Janet jumps at the chance to throw Chyka under the bus, “We should call Chyka slither Barbie, because how she got out of the trouble with Gamble!”
Gamble invites the ladies to Sydney for a girls getaway to her hometown. Gamble and P-fleur attempt to call each other out about their careers. Gamble works as a consultant for an art gallery while Petts develops properties – but they are both suspiciously short on details. Lydia confronts Gamble about smirking during her speech at Chyka’s dinner party. She gives the perfectly plausible explanation that she only giggled at her husband during the beginning of Lydia’s story about the wedding in Florence, since he hates weddings, but that of course she did not laugh at Lydia’s child’s death. “I have a heart as big as Texas, I would never do that!” She also apologizes profusely and blames the booze for any inappropriate behavior. Still, Lydia only half accepts. I have a feeling she will be circling back to pick at this scab in the future. Janet takes Pettifleur aside to recruit her as an ally in advance of the trip to Sydney – she must be desperate indeed. “I like to call Gamble meshugana Barbie,” she snickers. Gooooooooaaal!
As Gamble packs for the Sydney trip, Jackie joins Chyka for lunch in her beautiful garden. First order on the agenda – planning Gamble’s hens night. Gamble has told Chyka she doesn’t want strippers for her bachelorette party – she wants to keep it classy. “Instead of shaking his ding dong in front of someone, he can shake his butt! That’s classy,” Jackie jokes. I’m sure Phaedra would be happy to recommend the infamous Ri-DICK-ulous, from Kandi’s birthday party. Now that was talent! Quick! Somebody get Phaedra on the line. This could be the infamous Ridiculous’s big international break!!
Chyka dishes about her own hens night – some young bucks from the outback auctioned her off, so she stripped down to her bra and undies. Woo hoo! Who would have guessed that mild mannered, self-proclaimed “Switzerland” actually had a wild side?
Our fearsome foursome, Gina, Gamble, Pettifleur and Janet, pop off their Sydney trip with a bottle of champs in their hotel room. These golden girls seem to have all gotten the metallic mini dress memo. Gamble fills everyone in about the artist Charles Billich, an old family friend, whose gallery party they are about to attend tonight. Not to be left out, Pettifleur pedantically points out that she knows something. “Charles is actually amazing. He’s got some paintings at the White House, the United Nations headquarters, and the Vatican,” she recites. Gina asks if she Googled the info. Pettifleur sees this question as massive insult that must be rebuffed. “I know how to do my research! Not Google, don’t worry!” she responds with righteous indignation. Is something wrong with Google? Maybe Petts is the last subscriber on earth to the annual volumes of Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Gamble informs the ladies that they will meet her sister, Tempest, at the gallery. “You’re gonna see her pre-op,” she warns, and for a split second I thought she might be referring to gender reassignment surgery. But I was mistaken – the stakes are much higher. Tempest is about to undergo a slew of cosmetic procedures, including jowl and chin reconstruction and botox – presumably in a bid to resemble her surgically-enhanced sibling. “She’s gonna be in Heaven!!!” Janet, clearly a fan of the scalpel, beams.
The gals, along with Gamble’s friend Lisa, pour themselves into a limo heading for the gallery. “I hope I don’t flash too much nipple,” Gamble cheerily quips. At Billich gallery, an eclectic cast of characters – many of them with faces stretched tighter than a pair of spanx over a muffin top – are on display. As Gina notes, Billich himself looks like the down under version of Elton John. Pampered pets being toted around by the one-percenters is nothing new – but one of these art lovers trumps them all. She has brought her big fluffy white cat out on the town. Yes, her CAT! Pettifleur is pretty shocked and for once I am with her on this one. The ladies coo over the giant, yawning fluff ball, pretending all of this is normal. Sensing an opening, Billich’s wife, Christa, introduces herself and regales them with tales of her tiny dog eating off her plate in Michelin starred restaurants from LA to Monaco. At least I think that’s what she said. Her frozen face and inflated lips left little maneuver room for enunciation.
We finally get a glimpse at the artwork, which is lovely, including a giant portrait that appears to depict how Christa looked several procedures ago. Beautiful. There’s also a painting of Gamble in the buff. Perhaps this is the root of all the rumor madness??? Gina makes friends with fellow barrister, Sydney socialite Judy Swan, while Janet chats amiably with fellow gay divorcees, “Every now and then I hook up with a 35 year old to party,” she giggles. Pettifleur tries to strike up a friendly fashion feud between Melbourne and Sydney, “How do I look?” she asks. Meanwhile she tells Gamble’s friend to zip her lip. All of this is the giddy calm before the storm…
Tempest approaches, and after a few perfunctory pleasantries about eye lifts, she rains right on Janet’s parade. “Now listen, I’ve been wanting to meet you,” she wags her finger in Janet’s face.“I’ve known this young woman her entire life,” she says, referring to her younger sister, “And I don’t think you have any idea how much you upset her when you make up bullsh*t about her,” she scolds. Janet is caught off guard and tries to shrug it off with a smile. Not to be placated, Tempest swirls into monsoon mode: “It’s indefensible, it’s so not fair. Don’t you DARE do that to her! She’s the most honorable, beautiful, lovely, intelligent person I have ever had the privilege to know, and you doing that sh*t to her hurts me, hurts her. I know you made it up! So get some f*cking evidence, get some evidence!” Janet tries, for the umpteenth to explain that she didn’t make anything up, that she was only trying to warn Gamble that the rumors were out there. “I thought we were over this! I can’t be attacked every time I see you, by you or your family, over a story that’s been made up. I don’t want to do it, I’m going!” she protests as she sensibly saunters off the scene. Pettifleur, redeeming herself in a peacemaker moment, corroborates Janet’s story that she was only the messenger. Tempest instantly simmers down.“I probably need to apologize to her, then.”
Meanwhile, Gamble is in hot pursuit of her prey, Janet, with Gina nipping at her heels like a croc after a wallaby. “Janet doesn’t get far in those stilettos. As she takes a breath in front of a local pub, Gamble catches up and begs her to come back inside, literally twisting her arm in the process – it’s a glittery Greco-Roman housewife tussle. “Really feral moment, not cool,” Gamble laments in her talking head. Pub patrons are lapping up the drama along with their pints. They probably came in to watch rugby and lucked out with the socialite show – fight club edition. Unswayed, Janet catches a cab home.
Back at the art reception, Pettifleur is still lecturing Tempest. I’m sure she will forward her a manuscript of her upcoming ‘Switch the Bitch’ book, once her eyebrow stylists finishes writing it.“You’re getting a bit boring,” Tempest protests, wishing there were a teapot she could climb into (sorry, couldn’t resist). “Apparently I have an IQ of a gnat. I’ve heard you, I’ve heard you!” she says as she tries to stop the feedback loop. “I’m not boring! Don’t call me boring!” Is Pettifleur’s outraged reply.
Back in Melbourne, Lydia, Chyka and Jackie get together for the “real ladies game” of croquet with a side dish of gossip about the Gamble and Janet melee. On day two of the Sydney sideshow, the ladies head out for a a cruise around the harbor. The views are so gorgeous that I find myself wondering how much a ticket would be from San Francisco. Pettifleur has donned a jaunty captain’s hat for the occasion. In the face of all this beauty, Gamble wishes she could bury the hatchet with her frenemy. Janet, who is no doubt licking her wounds, is conspicuously absent from this nautical adventure. Christa, the artist’s wife, is onboard with some words of wisdom. “A rumor is a rumor and nothing else. What’s a rumor? A cloud in the sky!”
Janet reemerges to join the others for a post-cruise dinner and tries to clear the air with Gamble in private, but Gina attempts to assert her lawyerly influence. Janet tells her to butt out and even suggests that she skedaddle. “I’m not doing a big ‘storm off like a skank down the street’ thing!’” Gina declares. In a moment of clarity, the ladies all make a pledge to never discuss the tired old Gamble gossip drama again. Fingers crossed!