real life

"I knew immediately why Simone was standing apart from the other mums at the school gate."

I first saw Simone* standing at the school gate as we waited for our kids.

She was so tall that it felt like she was almost double my height. So it was hard not to notice her.

As I watched her, my eyes moving from the friend who was talking to me, I knew immediately why Simone was standing apart from the other mums.

She stuck out like a sore thumb, not only because of her height, but because she was beautiful, in a Hollywood way. Beautiful, in the 1980s super-model kind of way. She was as classically good-looking as Pamela Anderson when she was in Baywatch.

So, the exact opposite of me.

She was wearing the tiniest denim shorts… and stilettos. Her quite obviously surgically enhanced cleavage was on display. At school pick-up – the horror!

She had a golden blonde mane of hair. Gucci sunglasses hid her eyes, but you could tell her bone structure was classically perfect.

I looked at her, and thought, she’s alone, not because she thinks she’s too good for anyone, but because she doesn’t think she’ll fit in with the other more ‘natural’ or ‘down-to-earth’ looking mums, like me.

That’s always been my weakness – an ‘underdog’. Admittedly, I’d never approached such a glamorous ‘underdog’, but that’s what I did that afternoon. I just went over and said “hi”.

And that’s the instant I started one of my dearest friendships. I discovered Simone was – and is – gracious, generous, kind, and funny.

She’s also very, very wealthy. Combine that with her aesthetic, and she’s quite the ‘package’ – and in a very obvious way. I didn’t think that could be a negative – until I was forced to consider other people’s perspectives.

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To me, Simone was a new friend – lovely and interesting. And so I did what I’d do with any friend: I began inviting her to events with my other friends. Playdates, girls lunches, and even my book club.

Including her in things could have been a fateful mistake – because it eventually cost me a few friends. But actually, I’m grateful for introducing her to some of my gang, because despite how stressful the fallout was, it showed me who my true friends are.

In the time I’ve known Simone, she’s had about five million dollars worth of cars.

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Aston Martins, Rolls Royces, and a Ferrari. I was indifferent to her perceived status; money didn’t impress me. Her nice stuff was nice – but that’s all it was to both of us – just stuff. What we spent our time talking about was books, the death of our parents, our kids, her immature but hilarious husband and my dating life.

There was, and is, so much more to her than her looks, or her money.

But those things seemed to define her in the eyes of other women. I saw her as a beautiful person inside and out, but my friends couldn’t get past her fake boobs.

I learnt pretty quickly they were uncomfortable with Simone. One friend pulled me aside and told me, “You know she’s that skinny because she’s a coke addict.”

I’d partied a bit with Simone by that stage, and I’d seen no evidence of that. I lost some respect for that friend when she chose to make that comment.

Soon after, I was informed that Simone was making people uncomfortable at book club – apparently because she asked people not to post spoilers on our page, and also expressed one night that it was annoying  not to be able to discuss the book when people hadn’t read it, but came to a meeting, demanding we don’t ‘spoil it’ for them.

But that wasn’t the real reason. I think they just didn’t like how they felt about themselves when they were around her.

On another occasion, I overheard a conversation about Simone’s new Maserati – my friends were calling her a C.U.B. – a cashed-up bogan. They asked me how I could tolerate being friends with her, and gave me a lot of grief about it.

“Look at what she wears to Book Club,” one complained. “Her tits are always out, aren’t you embarrassed for her?”

I replied, “If I’d paid 10 grand for tits, I’d have them out all the time, too.”

"Yes, we looked so different to each other. But all I really saw was her heart of gold." Source: Getty
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It soon became clear, my 'old' friends had an issue with my 'new' friend - and they expected me to take sides. If there's one sure way to make me pick a side when I don't need to, it's to insist I pick a side.

And so I chose Simone.

Their issues, their insecurities, were not my problem. All I could see was someone who had a heart of gold, always read the book and contributed to book club, was a good friend to me, and who was simply offending other people by her mere existence.

It all came to a head one night when, after a book club dinner, one of the old friends called to complain Simone had 'looked her up and down' at the restaurant.

To be honest, we all had. My friend had rocked up to a proper restaurant (not a cafe) with a pair of thongs on her feet. She herself drew attention to it by announcing when she arrived, "Sorry, I'm wearing thongs, I'm just so tired."

That was the only reason we had looked at her feet.

I'd had enough. I made it clear I thought this friend was being unreasonable. I was really annoyed that the book club had come to this, but my 'old' friends wouldn't budge - it was a point of pride for them.

The way I saw it, I had one friend who was supporting my interests - and some friends who weren't.

I closed the book club, alienated those friends, and started a new club - with Simone.

These days, I'm very careful whom I include in my friendship with Simone. She is different to other women I know, but that doesn't mean she should be treated like a freak.

She is, just simply, my friend.

* Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

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