Blending in, Malibu style

Hola all.

Recent back-to-back trips have rendered me temporarily blog-less. After a jaunt to Martha’s Vineyard, we dumped our suitcase contents into the washing machine, re-stuffed our bags and jetted off to LA. Specifically Malibu.
I know…rough life. But thanks to a family beach house, Malibu’s been one of my vacation destinations since birth.
After all these years, you’d think I’d be accustomed to the locals’ botox-bolstered behavior and strange customs. Like the fact that you can troll the Malibu grocery store in your PJs. But attire for the kids’ playground is one grade below cocktail party.
I forgot this rule when I showed up at the Cross Creek playground — your run-of-the-mill tot lot — surrounded by chic stores stocked with clothes and home furnishings void of price tags. (if you have to ask, you might as well drag your cheap butt out of there.) Cross Creek is a top haunt for paparazzi who snap stars ducking into Nobu for lunch or daring to push their kids on the swings.
But when I show up one day, there’s neither paparazzi nor celebs in sight. Instead, the thriving park population is looking at me. The interloper.
The playground attracts two species of adults: nannies and mommies. The vast majority are nannies; hispanic or black, they are intensely focused on their little charges. The handful of moms are clothed in flowing silk dresses, strappy shoes and they clutch cell phones away from their styled hair and make up. They shun any hint of maternal ties; only toys and tiny shoes near their manicured feet give them away.
Neither nanny or mommie material, I’m The Freak. In my blue “larsen’s fish market” t-shirt and faded cargo shorts I’m virtually indistinguishable from the homeless squatters on the beach. Except that I’m not nearly tan enough.
And I have all my teeth.
I park Brynn’s stroller in a precious square of shade while the Boy and Barbarian shed their shoes. Immediately a little girl loitering at a nearby table pipes up with a tone of annoyance. “Trisha!” she says to her nanny. “Why is that lady trying to share our table?”
Okay, future beotch. I’m not even sitting at your table, much less sharing it. And last time I checked, the shade’s still free. But the 4-year-old has got me rattled, so I push Brynn toward another sliver of shade, near the mommie colony on a bench.
The women stare but otherwise ignore me as I push Had and Cayden on the swings and check on Brynn. Finally, a nanny can’t resist — shabbily dressed or not, I’m a mother with three kids at the park, and no nanny.
Shocking.
She fawns over Brynn and we chat. All is going well until I mention returning to work and daycare for the kids. Daycare?! She registers a look of astonishment and revulsion. Like I’ve just licked my shoe.
Meanwhile, another curious bystander saunters over — a 6 year old boy. He prattles on about his cousin’s baby… I’m barely paying attention and instead focus on the snack he’s juggling in his hands. What the heck is the kid eating? Then it dawns on me: this kindergardener is polishing off a Starbucks frappe and sushi roll.
It’s about this time that Cayden runs up, tugs my shirt and loudly announces, “Mom, this place stinks!”
One of the Malibu mom throws me a faint smile. Because my kid’s right. This boutique-buffered park, beloved by movie stars, faintly smells…
…liked a septic tank.
“Mom, are you listening? I can’t stand this smell. Can we go?”
From then on, Cayden renames Malibu’s famed playground, “The Stink Park.” And Martin stumbles on a new kid-friendly locale on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. A simple, little park away from surgically enhanced mothers. And sushi-wielding toddlers.